Newsbrief: Justice Department Ends Appeal of Ruling Throwing Out Ban on Transit Ads for Marijuana Law Reform 1/28/05

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The Justice Department gave up this week on efforts to keep alive a congressionally-imposed ban on marijuana advocacy ads on mass transit systems. Originating with Oklahoma Republican Senator Ernest Istook, who ramrodded the law through Congress in response to a campaign by Change the Climate that placed ads calling for marijuana law reform on Washington, DC, buses and subway stops, the law was thrown out as an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech rights by US District Court Judge Paul Friedman in June ().

Change The Climate's
controversial subway ad
This week, Acting Solicitor General Paul Clement sent letters to lawyers for the House and Senate saying Friedman's decision would not be appealed because "the government does not have a viable argument to advance in the statute's defense."

The Istook bill sought to effectively censor pro-drug reform ads by taking away federal funds from any transit system that displayed them. As a result, the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority refused to run the ads. Change the Climate, aided and abetted by the ACLU Drug Policy Project, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and the Marijuana Policy Project, filed the suit resulting in the favorable June ruling.

And now the feds have given up the ghost on this issue.

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Issue #372 -- 1/28/05

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