JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The proprietor of a Mississippi medical marijuana dispensary filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday difficult state rules that he says censor enterprise house owners by stopping them from promoting.
After Mississippi legalized medical marijuana for folks with debilitating circumstances in 2022, Clarence Cocroft II opened Tru Supply Medical Hashish in Olive Department, Mississippi. However he says he has struggled to succeed in clients as a result of Mississippi`s Division of Well being has banned medical marijuana companies from promoting in any media.
That violates enterprise house owners’ First Modification rights, Cocroft`s attorneys wrote in a lawsuit filed within the U.S. District Courtroom for the Northern District of Mississippi.
“All I need to do, like every other enterprise proprietor, is have the chance to promote. If I pay taxes on this enterprise, which I do, I ought to be capable of promote,” Cocroft mentioned at a information convention. “All I’m asking from this state is to offer us with the identical liberty that they’ve offered different companies.”
Cocroft, who’s represented by the Institute for Justice, sued the leaders of the state`s Division of Well being, Division of Income and Alcoholic Beverage Management Bureau. The lawsuit accuses state rules of prohibiting enterprise house owners from participating in truthful industrial speech to advertise their authorized companies, which attorneys argue violates the First Modification.
“Below the ban, Clarence can’t promote in any media. He can’t place adverts in newspapers or magazines, on tv or radio, and even on billboards that he already owns,” mentioned Katrin Marquez, one in every of Cocroft`s attorneys. “The First Modification doesn’t permit a state to fully censor a authorized enterprise. Whether it is authorized to promote a product, it’s authorized to speak about that product.”
A spokesperson for the Mississippi Division of Well being didn’t instantly reply to an e mail requesting remark Tuesday. A spokesperson for the Division of Income mentioned the company had not heard in regards to the lawsuit.
Arkansas, Louisiana and Alabama even have rules that prohibit dispensaries from promoting by way of public mediums. However Cocroft’s attorneys mentioned Mississippi’s rules are extra stringent than these in neighboring states.
The state Well being Division can’t stop dispensaries from inserting “applicable indicators” on their properties or displaying merchandise they promote on their web sites. All different promoting restrictions are as much as the Well being Division, which prohibits dispensaries from promoting or advertising “in any media.”
“The state authorities can’t concurrently authorize the authorized sale of a services or products, whereas forbidding the truthful promoting of mentioned product,” Marquez mentioned. “No regulation, state or federal, justifies the censorship on this case.”
When Cocroft began Tru Supply, he says he budgeted for promoting and bought a number of billboards in extremely trafficked areas in northern Mississippi. He has been leasing the billboards to different companies and relied as a substitute on word-of-mouth suggestions to succeed in potential clients.
“It’s merely unfair that each different authorized enterprise in Mississippi is allowed to promote, whereas I’ve to depend on phrase of mouth,” Cocroft mentioned.
Photograph: Clarence Cocroft II. (Institute for Justice through AP)
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