Statement of Graham Boyd, Director, ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project
Government Censors Marijuana Reform Ads
Make a Difference
Your support helps the ACLU end punitive drug policies and defend a broad range of civil liberties.
WASHINGTON -- Today I am here to show you what the government wants to hide from America: a message the government is so eager to keep out of the public eye that it has resorted to censorship and violation of the First Amendment. What is the government hiding? The fact that current marijuana laws are a cruel and expensive failure - a failure so profound that, once Americans know the facts, they will demand new marijuana laws.
Last week, the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, following the command of a new federal law, rejected an advertisement designed and submitted by a group of advocates who believe that America's marijuana laws need changing.
Our ad was rejected because it provides the stark facts and plain truths that the White House fears will shed light on its failed drug policy. Our ad does not promote or advocate drug use - it is an attempt to restore fairness and reason to drug policy in America.
Today, the ACLU, along with Change the Climate, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Marijuana Policy Project, has filed a lawsuit against the federal government and the D.C. Metro for violating our First Amendment rights to promote our political message through the display of paid advertisements in a public forum. The federal government has passed a law that clearly engages in viewpoint-based discrimination.
The federal government spends billions of our taxpayer dollars to voice its views about marijuana, including in ads on local transit authorities all over the country. Our coalition cannot compete with those billions the federal government spends on its media campaign, but we did collect enough money to put together an ad in the D.C. Metro system. Even though we are willing to pay, using private funds raised from Americans who support drug policy reform, the federal government has threatened the D.C. Metro with a total revocation of all its federal funding if it allows our message to be displayed.
We filed this lawsuit today because we believe that every viewpoint should have a chance to compete in the marketplace of ideas in America - including the viewpoint that current marijuana laws are not working.