DENVER, CO—The High Times lawyer was all business. Prompted by a recently proposed amendment that would force magazines featuring luscious photographs of mouth-watering marijuana buds behind the retail store counter with the other more lascivious mouth-watering magazines, he promised that if Colorado passes it, a lawsuit will be filed immediately. No ifs, ands or butts.
While High Times' concerns are certainly understandable, and the threat to literally align pot with porn does raise legitimate constitutional questions, it would do little to diminish Colorado’s standing as a progressive paradise for being one of only two states (Washington being the other) to have legalized the recreational use of pot by people over 21, flouting federal drug laws in the process.
The bill, HB13-137, which has cleared the House and is being introduced to the Senate Finance Committee today, includes many other provisions related to the state’s burgeoning regulation of marijuana. According to the AP, “The bill also includes labeling and packaging requirements and a limit on marijuana purchases by out-of-state visitors. The bill limits retail sales to out-of-state customers to one-fourth of an ounce in a single transaction, though all adults would be allowed to possess a full ounce of the drug.”
The magazine amendment was slipped into the comprehensive bill during a late night session last week. The idea behind it, according to the amendment’s sponsor, Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), is that the magazines simply serve as advertisements for what will be a state-regulated controlled substance.
“As we legalize marijuana, I think we can also control — in time place and manner — how it is advertised. I think that it’s constitutionally defensible,” he said.
But he also added, “It’s analogous to the pornography example.”
Not quite. So-called smutty magazines are not placed behind counters because they advertise adult products, but because they actually show images of the products that the state believes it has a vested interest in keeping away from the prying eyes of minors.
As such, the High Times lawyer, David Holland, was single-mindedly clear that segregating the magazines is “a content-based restriction that violates freedom of speech.”
No need to panic just yet, though. While the bill did make it out of the House, the AP reports that this particular amendment may be short-lived in the Senate, where it is "expected to be removed by Democratic sponsors." Gardner even conceded Thursday "that he wouldn’t be surprised if his magazine idea fails to make the final marijuana regulation bill.”
Which is fine by us; after all, if High Times is kept behind a counter, how will we sneak a peek at their mouth-watering centerfolds?