Judge Strikes Down Ban on Drug Legalization Ads

A judge in California has struck down a federal law prohibiting public transit carriers from displaying ads advocating the legalization of drugs:

A federal law cutting off funds to any public transit agency that runs ads calling for legalization or medical use of an illegal drug was declared unconstitutional Wednesday by a federal judge. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman of Washington, D.C., said the amendment attached to a $3.1 billion transportation measure, signed in January by President Bush, violated freedom of speech by banning messages based on their viewpoint.

The government has articulated no legitimate state interest in the suppression of this particular speech other than the fact that it disapproves of the message, an illegitimate and constitutionally impermissible reason,'' Friedman said. He prohibited the government from enforcing the funding restriction.

Totally right decision. If the Office of National Drug Control Policy can publish their anti-drug ads, the pro-legalization groups have to have the same right to publish their's.

Bruce Mirken, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, noted that Muni's bus shelters now carry ads, sponsored by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, suggesting that youthful marijuana use leads to a life as a derelict. "If this amendment stood, we would be barred from putting ads in that same forum to counter that message and to engage in a political debate about the wisdom of the marijuana laws,'' Mirken said.

BART spokesman Mike Healy was unavailable for comment Wednesday, but denounced the federal ad restrictions as "blackmail of the transit industry'' when the suit was filed in February.

What's good for the goose....

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