Why it matters: The owner of a cannabis dispensary in Mississippi is filing a lawsuit claiming that state laws preventing him from advertising his business violate his First Amendment rights. Mississippi legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes in 2022, but the laws prohibit cannabis providers from advertising in any form, which the owner argues is a violation of his constitutional rights.
What they are saying: Clarence Cocroft II, the owner of Tru Source Medical Cannabis, argues that as a business owner who pays taxes, he should have the opportunity to advertise his business like any other. His attorney, Katrin Marquez, argues that the ban on advertising constitutes unlawful censorship and violates the First Amendment.
The big picture: Many states with legal adult-use or medical cannabis markets have regulations on cannabis advertising, such as restrictions on public broadcasts to ensure the majority of the audience is of legal consumption age. However, Mississippi’s laws banning cannabis advertising are among the strictest, and Cocroft’s lawsuit argues that they unfairly target legally operating cannabis businesses.
What to watch: The outcome of this lawsuit will determine whether Mississippi’s laws prohibiting cannabis advertising violate the First Amendment rights of cannabis businesses. If successful, it could set a precedent for other states with similar restrictions on cannabis advertising.
My take: I believe that cannabis businesses should have the right to advertise their products and services, as long as they follow reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions to ensure responsible advertising. Complete bans on cannabis advertising, as seen in Mississippi, can be seen as a violation of free speech rights, especially if the product is legal. Allowing cannabis businesses to advertise can also help promote informed consumer choice and reduce the stigma surrounding cannabis use.