The marijuana reform group whose controversial ads on Washington Metro buses and subway stops spawned a congressional effort to effectively censor them it back at it, and this time it has partners. Change the Climate (http://www.changetheclimate.org), the Boston-based group behind the ads, was vindicated in federal court in June, where it was joined by the Marijuana Policy Project (http:www.mpp.org) and the American Civil Liberties Union Drug Policy Reform Project (formerly the Drug Policy Litigation Project -- http://www.aclu.org/DrugPolicy) in filing suit. US District Court Judge Paul Friedman ruled that an attempt to block the ads by pulling federal funding from any transit system that ran them was an unconstitutional infringement of free speech rights. That failed effort to suppress political opinions with which he did not agree was the brainchild of Oklahoma Republican Rep. Ernest Istook (http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/340/istook.shtml).
"Istook's ban provides powerful evidence of how scared the federal government is of genuine debate," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Alliance (http://www.drugpolicy.org) in a press release announcing the new ads. "I guess that's no surprise since they're trying to defend a policy that is indefensible."
The federal government has appealed Judge Friedman's ruling to the DC District Court of Appeals, but in the meantime, free speech reigns once again. And beginning Thursday, marijuana reform ads are once again appearing, this time at the Union Station and Capitol South stops of the Metro. But this time, Change the Climate has been joined by MPP, the ACLU, and DPA as sponsors whose logos appear on the ads.
"We are pleased that the court's ruling will allow the public to see this message, despite the efforts of the government to stifle our point of view," said Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project.
The ad will run throughout September and features a group of ordinary looking people standing behind prison bars under the headline, "Marijuana Laws Waste Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to Lock Up Non-Violent Americans." It can be viewed at http://www.aclu.org/images/client/decrim_ad.jpg online.