Colorado Booksellers, ABFFE Challenge Display Restriction

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Tattered Cover Book Store, Boulder Book Store, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association (MPIBA), and several newsstands filed suit on Monday, June 3, to block enforcement of a Colorado law that violates the First Amendment rights of retailers to display magazines that focus on marijuana and of customers to browse those publications. 

The new law, which was recently approved by the Colorado legislature along with regulations that decriminalize the sale of small amounts of marijuana, forces retailers that allow anyone under 21 years of age on their premises to display any magazine that focuses on marijuana or marijuana businesses behind the counter.

“Clearly, this is speech protected by the Constitution,” said Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis. “It has been sold, borrowed, and read by people who have had rightful access to this material for years and years. To limit this speech now would be a travesty. On behalf of the readers we serve, we cannot permit this law to stand without inviting future legislatures to restrict the display of other kinds of books and magazines.”

Noting that booksellers have battled unconstitutional restrictions on the display of books and magazines for many years, ABFFE President Chris Finan said, “The new law is clearly unconstitutional. It forces bookstore customers to ask permission to peruse magazines they have a First Amendment right to purchase.”

The lawsuit was filed in federal district court in Denver by Media Coalition, which defends the First Amendment rights of producers and distributors of media, and ACLU of Colorado.  The law is also being challenged by High Times.

Read more about the case here; access the complaint here.