Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner Sues Mississippi Over Ad Ban, Arguing First Amendment Violation

Clarence Cocroft II, owner of Tru Source Medical Cannabis is suing Mississippi regulators over the state's marijuana advertising banreports The Associated Press. Cocroft, represented by the Institute for Justice, sued the leaders of the Department of Health, Department of Revenue and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Bureau.

In February 2022, Mississippi became the 37th in the union to legalize medical marijuana, but with the legalization came specific rules, and one of them concerns advertising. Cocroft’s attorneys are now arguing that the state’s ban on medical marijuana advertising in any media actually violates dispensary owner’s First Amendment rights.

“The Department’s complete ban on advertising and marketing in any media violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution by prohibiting business owners like Clarence from engaging in truthful commercial speech to promote their legal businesses. As a result of Defendants’ ban, Tru Source has struggled to reach its desired clientele, cannot promote its products or its location, and has sustained and will continue to sustain significant harm,” reads the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi.

During a news conference, Cocroft said he is asking the state to provide medical marijuana dispensaries with the same liberty all other legal businesses have. “It’s simply unfair that every other legal business in Mississippi is allowed to advertise, while I have to rely on word of mouth,” he said.

Cocroft’s attorney Katrin Marquez argued that “The First Amendment does not allow a state to completely censor a legal business. If it is legal to sell a product, it is legal to talk about that product.”

Under the state law, the Mississippi Health Department cannot prohibit dispensaries from putting “appropriate signs” on their properties or showcasing products they sell on their website, but all other advertising restrictions are decided by the department, which doesn’t allow marketing in “any media.”

The lawsuit seeks a judge’s declaration that the advertising ban is unconstitutional and a permanent injunction preventing its enforcement.

See Also: 

This Massachusetts Marijuana Dispensary Finds A Way Around Strict Advertising Rules

Rhode Island's Cannabis Advertising: Dispensaries Struggle Against Billboard Restrictions 

Photo: Benzinga edit with images by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA by Pexels and Wikimedia Commons

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Posted In: CannabisNewsMarketsClarence Cocroft IIKatrin MarquezMississippi cannabisMississippi cannabis advertisingMississippi cannabis lawsuitTru Source Medical Cannabis
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