Marijuana

Maine Legalization Initiative Would Force Merchants to Hide Marijuana Magazines

MPP, which decried the behind-the-counter rule as "absurd" and "unconstitutional" in Colorado, is backing it in Maine.

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High Times

In 2013 Colorado legislators approved a bill that included a provision requiring merchants to keep marijuana magazines like High Times behind the counter if their stores were open to customers younger than 21. The provision was so blatantly unconstitutional that John Suthers, then Colorado's attorney general, said the state would not enforce it. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) applauded Suthers' decision, caliing the magazine rule "absolutely absurd" and "a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution." Yet three years later, MPP is asking voters in Maine to approve the same restriction as part of that state's legalization initiative.

Maine's Marijuana Legalization Act, which recently qualified for this November's ballot, says "a magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses may be sold only in a retail marijuana store or behind the counter in an establishment where persons under 21 years of age are present." David Boyer, the initiative's campaign manager, told the Bangor Daily News that provision "attempts to strike a balance" between freedom and community standards. "The community has the opportunity to approve it," he said, "and if members of the community wish to challenge a particular provision within it, they will have that right, just as they would with any other law."

That anondyne description stands in stark contrast with the way Mason Tvert, MPP's communications director and a driving force behind Colorado's legalization campaign, viewed the behind-the-counter rule for marijuana magazines in 2013:

We applaud the attorney general's decision to declare as unconstitutional this absurd rule that marijuana-related publications be treated like pornographic material. The idea that stores can prominently display magazines touting the joys of drinking wine and smoking cigars, yet banish those that discuss a far safer substance to behind the counter, is absolutely absurd.

The fact that legislators passed this rule despite being informed it is a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution demonstrates the bigotry that still exists with regard to marijuana. It is time for our elected leaders to get over their reefer madness and recognize that a majority of Coloradans—and a majority of Americans—think marijuana should be legal for adults.

Has MPP succumbed to anti-pot bigotry? Not quite. The initiative the organization originally supported included no such rule. But last fall MPP decided to merge its efforts with those of Legalize Maine, a group of medical marijuana growers who evidently thought that promising to keep marijuana magazines out of sight would reassure leery voters worried about the message that legalization might send to the youth of Maine. That promise is bound to be broken, since the restriction is unenforceable.

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  1. This is a great example of the perfect being the enemy of the good.

    The main point is getting drugs legal. Yes, it’s absurd to put magazines behind covers, but it’s almost completely meaningless. Did it ever stop someone from buying pornography? No.

  2. So, does this ‘first amendment’ apply to ‘non-adult’ materials? Because I’m pretty sure most places that have under-21’s have to keep the nudie mags behind the counter and the videotapes behind the curtain.

    If not, then how do we make the distinction that says Playboy is ‘adult’ but Fangoria is not?

    1. Playboy has less nudity in it than GQ nowadays.

    2. How are porn magazines still a thing?

      The obscenity exception to the first amendment is wrong, but it’s long established. There isn’t any such precedent regarding pictures of plants that are legal to posses or cultivate, which is what it would be if the law passed.

    3. For one thing nobody who qualifies as an adult has ever purchased an issue of Fangoria.

    4. If not, then how do we make the distinction that says Playboy is ‘adult’ but Fangoria is not?

      Constituents. How many constituents you got?

  3. With the internet, how many print copies actually get sold anymore?

    1. Yep, it’s pretty much a moot argument.

      1. You misspelled mute.

      2. Not really. A precedent here, a precedent there, next thing you know you have no rights at all. It took the government about 150 years to realize the constitution allowed it to regulate firearms. It took about another 60 years for it to realize the constitution allowed it to strip ‘the wrong’ American citizens of their second amendment rights for conviction of state felonies which may not even be criminal acts in other states. Today we have to pass a federal background check.

        And think, just over 100 years ago both the politicians and the citizens recognized that to give the federal government the power to prohibit alcohol required a constitutional amendment giving it that power, which we gave them and then actually took away when we realized how dumb that was. Today we can pass a prohibition on light bulbs just by the votes of the federal congress. These things just seem to grow once you’ve planted them. Must be all of the fertilizer flowing around every capital.

  4. Let the market and people decide what they think is appropriate press and shop accordingly …. not the state.

  5. “a magazine whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses may be sold only in a retail marijuana store or behind the counter in an establishment where persons under 21 years of age are present.”

    OK, then “a magazine whose primary focus is politics may be sold only in a retail politics store or behind the counter in an establishment where persons under 21 years of age are present.”

    Although TPTB might be fine with that, too.

    1. “” magazine whose primary focus is politics …”

      That’s disgusting and obscene!!

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  8. a group of medical marijuana growers who evidently thought that promising to keep marijuana magazines out of sight would reassure leery voters worried about the message that legalization might send to the youth of Maine.

    Funny what we’re willing to compromise on just to get our nod from the state.

  9. This is really odd, since I’ve seen several magazines in store here in MD with pot plants on the cover, and weed’s not even legal here for recreational use.

    Seems like I remember when I was a kid that stores used to keep Penthouse hidden behind the counter. Which is more dangerous to your kid, a pot leaf or some boobies?

  10. Censorship is unconstitutional thruout the country.

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  12. They still make magazines?

  13. Why will there be anyone under 21 in the shops anyway? I’m missing something very elementary here, I think. Regardless, it’s a stupid proviso.

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