Newsbrief: Group Can Display Marijuana Reform Ads, Federal Court Rules 12/3/04

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Change the Climate (, a Boston-based organization that fights the drug war with advertisements aiming to change the cultural climate surrounding marijuana, has the right to display its advertisements on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) property, the US 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday. MBTA violated Change the Climate's First Amendment rights by refusing to display its ads in 2000, the court held.

MBTA rejected three of the ads and argued they encouraged children to use marijuana, thus allowing it to reject them on grounds consistent with MBTA policies regarding ads encouraging criminality. But the ads merely expressed a political viewpoint and could not be suppressed based on their political content, the court said.

The ads challenge the status quo on marijuana and urge viewers to change the law. "I've got three great kids," reads one ad. "I love them more than anything. I don't want them to smoke pot. But I know jail is a lot more dangerous than smoking pot."

"MBTA advertising space is literally a billboard for the expression of opinions to citizens at large. As a government agency, they shouldn't have the right to pick and choose what opinions they allow to be advertised," Change the Climate attorney Harvey Schwartz told reporters after the ruling.

This isn't the first time Change the Climate has provoked unconstitutional reactions from offended bureaucrats or politicians. In June, Change the Climate won another victory when a US district court judge in Washington, DC, ruled the "Istook amendment" unconstitutional. That law, named after sponsor arch-conservative Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK), sought to punish transit authorities that allowed ads seeking to reform the marijuana laws by withholding federal transportation funds. Istook had been especially provoked by a Change the Climate ad linking sex and marijuana (

Read the opinion in Change the Climate v. MBTA (No. 03-2285) online by visiting and using the opinion search function.

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Issue #365 , 12/3/04

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DRCNet Event: Rep. Barney Frank to Keynote for Perry Fund Forum/Fundraiser, December 9, 2004, Boston | DEA Retraction of Pain FAQ Angers, Scares Doctors and Patients | Hurwitz Trial Update and Call for Support | Raich Case as Much About Federalism as About Medical Marijuana | Medical Marijuana at the Supreme Court -- a Taste of the Day's Events | Top Cops Say Drug War a Flop in Two New Surveys | Newsbrief: Group Can Display Marijuana Reform Ads, Federal Court Rules | Newsbrief: Supreme Court Puts Hold on Religious Ayahuasca Use | Newsbrief: Delaware Legislature to Take Up Needle Exchange Again | Newsbrief: Britain's Brave New World of Drug Testing Gets Underway | Newsbrief: Afghan Opium Farmers Claim They Are Being Sprayed With Pesticides | Newsbrief: Drug Policy Alliance Rejects Grant Over Anti-Terror Clause | Newsbrief: Federal Sentencing Guidelines Fill Prisons With Blacks, Hispanics, Study Finds | This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | This Week in History | New Harm Reduction Grant Program for Activism and Policy By and for Drug Users | Apply Now to Intern at DRCNet! | Drugwarmarket.Com Seeking Information, Affiliations, Link Exchanges | The Reformer's Calendar

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