Colorado Booksellers Defeat Censorship Law

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A week after Colorado booksellers challenged a law restricting the display of magazines about marijuana, the State of Colorado agreed not to enforce the law. Lawyers for the state acknowledged that the law, which would have forced retailers to display any magazine that focuses on marijuana or marijuana businesses behind the counter, was unconstitutional.

Boulder Book Store and Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver joined with the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE),  the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association, and several newsstands in challenging the law.

“We believed strongly that this law violated the First Amendment rights of our customers and feel vindicated by the government agreeing that it is unconstitutional,” said Joyce Meskis of Tattered Cover, the lead plaintiff in the suit. “The agreement today confirms that the state cannot prosecute booksellers for giving their customers access to material that is fully protected by the Constitution simply because the legislature does not agree with the message.”

ABFFE President Chris Finan noted that “the strong opposition by Colorado booksellers played an important role in the speedy resolution of this case.”

The display restriction was approved by the Colorado legislature as part of a package that legalized the sale of small amounts of marijuana. 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 was challenged in a separate lawsuit by several marijuana magazines, including High Times.

“This is another important victory for the free speech rights of readers and retailers in Colorado,” said David Horowitz, executive director of Media Coalition. “We hope it will remind the legislators in Colorado and all states that they must respect the First Amendment when drafting legislation.”

More information about the lawsuit is available on the Media Coalition website.