As 25 More Denver Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Shut Their Doors To Keep the Feds Away, There's Talk of the Need to "clean up the industry" and Help "the kids" by Banning Sign Spinners, or Banning Medical Pot Advertising Entirely

Keen supporter of marijuana legalization, or even just the medical kind? Well, Colorado, and especially Denver, is way ahead of most of the U.S. on the latter. It's entirely possible that the former will happen this year as well, thanks to the soon-to-be-voted-on Amendment 64, which would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. We can only hope that if it does pass, it will prevent the occasional full-on SWAT raid which still happens to medical patients in that Rocky Mountain state (like these folks who were suspected of having a few too many plants).

Unfortunately for people who enjoy freedom in a general sense, some members of the medical marijuana lobby in Colorado are strongly advocating for restrictions on a different kind of freedom: the freedom to have sign-spinners or basically any kind of out door advertising to try to drum up patients for dispensaries. In spite of the fact that dispensaries in Denver now outnumber the city's Starbucks, Michael Elliot, the head of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group is engaging in some old-fashioned pearl clutching about the unseemliness of advertising for a perfectly legal (under local and state law) economic good. Likely this is due to the very real threat of Department of Justice crack-downs. Colorado dispensaries are currently living under the shadow of another U.S. Attorney's letter that led to 25 dispensaries that were within 1000 feet of schools, closing their doors under threat of prosecution. Still, it's a nasty game for Elliot to be playing when he's fighting for one kind of freedom.

See, says Elliot, they have to "clean up the industry." And " the justification for a complete ban of outdoor advertising is to prevent the encouragement of non-qualifying patients to use marijuana."

According to The Denver Post:

Denver's City Council is considering a bill to outlaw outdoor advertising for medical marijuana centers 1,000 feet from schools, day care centers and parks or recreation centers. But council members may look at a citywide ban instead.

"I was trying to look at doing something that was reasonable and something that I knew could withstand a court challenge and was focused on the kids," said Councilwoman Debbie Ortega, who is sponsoring the legislation.

Ortega asked the medical marijuana groups to come together and support a farther-reaching ordinance.

"Are you willing to support this and move forward," she asked the groups gathered at a council committee meeting on Wednesday. "If you all could get on the same page, I would be more than willing to work with you on a citywide ban."

Ortega has crafted the ordinance from the federal tobacco advertising laws. The ordinance's purpose, she said, would be to reduce use and possession by minors.

Norton Arbelaez, board chair of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, said medical marijuana advertising is not protected free speech under the First Amendment because the product is illegal under federal law.

"In order to qualify for the protection of free speech you have to say something legal," he said. "This is a substance that is against federal law. Because its status is illegal, it doesn't qualify for First Amendment protections under federal law."

Is this semi-soul-selling worth it? Maybe. There are some sick people in the world and making medical marijuana a serious, sober issue wouldn't be so bad.

But that still doesn't justify this. Nor, most likely, will such restictions save any dispensaries from crack-downs. There will always be another excuse, even if the Denver law passes. Protecting the children from drugs is a well that will never, ever run dry and whose water always grow more government

(Hat tip to Chuck Plunkett)

Reason on medical marijuana, and the state of marijuana in Colorado

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  • Gladstone||

    So tobacco advertising is banned and there are some movements to ban Happy meals so why are you surprised?

  • Gladstone||

    So once pot is legalized will there be laws making the smoking of it and the advertising of it illegal?

  • JoshSN||

    The London Economist's rather liberal view on drugs is LED: Legalization, Education, Discouragement.

    Are there dangers associated with tobacco, alcohol and marijuana? The government of Denver is, apparently, ill-prepared to make that case (it is easy, but they probably don't have the right people on staff) to the public.

    If prostitution is legalized, I sure don't look forward to the ads running on billboards in my neighborhood. The card flickers on the Vegas strip are obnoxious. The taxi cab ads for "Not Very Gentlemanly" Clubs are fairly embarrassing.

    Instead of straightforward discouragement, Denver is seeking to ban the encouragement. It's not wholly separate.

    Yes, I think Zurich is beautiful, and if there were tons of sex and drug club adverts in the beautiful, classical older parts of town, it would be significantly more seedy, and less nice.

    Don't be completely surprised. I find most advertisements to be fairly tasteless exercises in pandering to the lowest common denominator fantasies of sex and power combined with the distinctly amoral scientific studies funded by Madison Ave.

  • General Butt Naked||

    ...and some think that the things that you think are nice are boring.

    Let the market decide what is "nice".

  • Sevo||

    JoshSN|5.9.12 @ 10:49PM|#
    ...Don't be completely surprised. I find most advertisements to be fairly tasteless exercises in pandering to the lowest common denominator fantasies of sex and power combined with the distinctly amoral scientific studies funded by Madison Ave."

    Surprised? No.
    You're simply one more tired moralist who presumes to know what's 'nice'. One more self-righteous twit who is better off not posting to prove it.
    Stuff, it, Josh.

  • deified||

    Today I learned that civilized disagreement is against The Libertarian Code.

    Seriously, this guy deserves better (even in disagreement) than "fuck off, slaver."

  • Brandon||

    If you'd paid attention to his other posts, no, he doesn't.

  • ||

    Fuck off slaver.

  • deified||

    Today I learned that civilized disagreement is against The Libertarian Code.

    Seriously, this guy deserves better (even in disagreement) than "fuck off, slaver."

  • R||

    The card flickers on the Vegas strip are obnoxious.

    You realize prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, right? Because it's kind of ironic about you moaning about the untasteful ads that you think legal prostitution will bring by using an example of a place where they're illegal.

    I grew up in one of the counties in Nevada where prostitution IS legal, and there was a whorehouse not more than a few miles from my house. You'd never know it was there unless you were looking for it.

  • fried wylie||

    You'd never know it was there unless you were looking for it.

    Such ineffective marketing...

  • Mickey Rat||

    "Michael Elliot, the head of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group is engaging in some old-fashioned pearl clutching about the unseemliness of advertising for a perfectly legal (under local and state law) economic good."

    Color me shocked that the marijuana advocate is uncomfortable with commercialism and free-market behaviors.

    "In spite of the fact that dispensaries in Denver now outnumber the city's Starbucks,..."

    It seems unlikely that there is that much legitimate medical usage of marijuana. So can we end the farce of saying that "medical" MJ has much to do with actual medical necessity?

  • deified||

    For the one person who is able to, y'know, WALK without excruciating pain because of cannabis... it really doesn't matter too much about the statistical portrait of the modal MMJ user.

  • Guest||

    I for one live in constant pain, I have scar tissue from a spinal tap that didn't go exactly right when I was a child, both of my knees are shot, and my whole right arm has issues. I can not take any form of painkiller that a doctor can prescribe me because they eat away the inside of my stomach and have caused ulcers. Please, still tell me that there is no medical use for something that makes it so I am not laying in bed in pain all day.

  • Brandon||

    Does the state have to fuck up every successful industry?

  • ||

    The ordinance's purpose, she said, would be to reduce use and possession by minors.

    ...or its purpose is to entrench the already established dispensaries whose locations and existence are already known by the populace.

  • Sevo||

    Boy howdy!
    That's some headline!

  • Lucy Steigerwald||

    It got away from me a bit, didn't it?

  • ||

    am i high, or is Dragon the Line the most righteous song for like an LP convention?
    also, Wheel of Time! i can't wait for book 14! (just trying to provoke a Game of Thrones thread, on weed man)

  • General Butt Naked||

    The song's called "Drag in the Lion", dumbass.

  • PantsFan||

    Book 14 is so large is has been split into 6 books.

  • fried wylie||

    I wouldn't complain.

  • Raymond Luxury Yach-t||

    You are high AND Drag in the Lion is a most righteous song.

  • ||

    If you toe the lion you don't need to drag it. It just goes.

  • SIV||

    There was never an "issue" with marijuana advertising back when it was perfectly legal. Tomato advertising today is rather sparse and subtle.

  • fried wylie||

    yeah, you just kinda hear through the grapevine about really great tomatoes.

  • RandomJackass||

    There's no advertising here in California either, but that doesn't stop the feds from busting and closing down dispensaries which are legal under state law.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Even without the advertising, I think customers and SWAT teams will be able to find the businesses just fine.

  • RFID||

    How can anyone take this "1000 feet away" bullshit seriously? I've never understood this. I think this is what politicians think minor illicit substance takers' conversations go:

    A: Dude we should totally get drunk.
    B: Naw dude we'd have to walk at least 1000 feet because of the heroic city ordinance of heroes that says that liquor stores can't sell within 1000 feet of a school, church, or dorm!
    A: Curse you heroic ordinance! I'm never drinking again!

  • ||

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  • ||

    "consequence management,
    and consequence mitigation."

    I'm not sure what this phrase means but it sound ominous.

  • fried wylie||

    stop being consequential. or do you enjoy being mitigemented?

  • l0b0t||

    "In order to qualify for the protection of free speech you have to say something legal," he said. "This is a substance that is against federal law. Because its status is illegal, it doesn't qualify for First Amendment protections under federal law."

    Wait, what?!?

  • BigT||

    was focused on the kids

    Always the chilluns with these people! Irrelevant emotional tug is irrelevant.

  • BOBSAYSO||

    Smoke Pot - Smoke Pot - Everybody - Smoke Pot

  • Guest||

    First off, when did the right to free speech start being so specific? We have the right to say any damn thing we want in this country, without limitation, and it was written this way because our founding fathers were committing treason against the crown (Much worse than saying something about something that may or may not be legal). Second, It may be against Federal law, but another bit that was written in by our founding fathers says we have state sovereignty, and put in simple terms it means that as a state we have the right to pass and police our own laws without the government getting in the middle of it. Sure, the wording is more complicated but what it boils down to is this; Colorado has passed a law making it legal, so the Federal Government no longer has a right to go in and make arrests or persecute anyone who runs a dispensary or is a patient, so technically what the government is doing is against the law, not what Colorado is doing.

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