Weed's Advertising Not Protected Under First Amendment While Federally Banned, Rules Judge

Zinger Key Points
  • Federal judge dismisses lawsuit challenging Mississippi's medical marijuana advertising ban.
  • The judge said that challenging the state’s cannabis advertising rules would be a “drastic intrusion upon state sovereignty.”

A federal judge dismissed a marijuana advertising lawsuit last week, siding with the State of Mississippi on the argument that while marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, it can't be granted some constitutional protections, according to the Associated Press.

Back in November, Clarence Cocroft II, owner of Tru Source Medical Cannabis, sued Mississippi regulators over the state’s marijuana advertising ban. Cocroft, represented by the Institute for Justice, sued the leaders of the Department of Health, Department of Revenue and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Bureau.

Cocroft's attorneys argued that the state's ban on medical marijuana advertising in any media actually violates dispensary owner's First Amendment rights, reported the Associated Press.

"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.

Drastic Intrusion Upon State Sovereignty'

In a Monday ruling, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills said that since cannabis possession is illegal under federal law, it does not constitute a "lawful activity" and as such doesn't enjoy the constitutional protections reserved for some forms of commercial speech, the AP reported.

Mills said that challenging the state's cannabis advertising rules would be a "drastic intrusion upon state sovereignty."

"This is particularly true considering the fact that, by legalizing marijuana to any degree, the Mississippi Legislature has gone further than Congress itself has been willing to go," the judge wrote. "In light of this fact, on what basis would a federal court tell the Mississippi Legislature that it was not entitled to dip its toe into the legalization of marijuana, but, instead, had to dive headfirst into it?"

Cocroft stated Tuesday that he plans to appeal the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and that Mississippi's rules violate the First Amendment rights of businesses. 

"I'm prepared to fight this fight for as long as it takes," Cocroft said. "This case is bigger than me and my dispensary – it is about defending the right of everyone to truthfully advertise their legal business in the cannabis industry."

Related links: 

70% Of Medical Marijuana Products In Mississippi On Hold As Officials Retest For Pesticides 

30-40 Times Higher THC Levels Than Permitted Found In Mississippi Weed Products, GOP Rep. Will Address Situation 

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Photo: Courtesy of Ulf Wittrock via Shutterstock and Jose Luis Sanchez Pereyra via Unsplash 

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Posted In: CannabisNewsTop StoriesMarketsClarence Cocroft IIMichael P. MillsMississippi cannabisMississippi cannabis advertisingStories That MatterTru Source Medical Cannabis
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