Mississippi cannabis advertising ban is constitutional, judge rules

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by a Mississippi medical cannabis dispensary challenging the state’s ban on cannabis advertising.

However, U.S. District Judge Michael P. Mills seemed to hint that his Monday ruling could change if federal law changes.

And Clarence Cocroft II, who brought the lawsuit and operates a state-licensed marijuana dispensary that he claims the advertising ban is harming, told the Associated Press he plans to appeal.

Medical marijuana sales began last year in Mississippi.

Cocroft’s attorneys claimed in their November suit that the state has the nation’s toughest laws on cannabis advertising.

State-regulated MMJ businesses are prohibited from even listing products for sale on websites or billboards that Cocroft owns.

That forces potential customers of Cocroft’s business, Tru Source Medical Cannabis, to physically enter the store to see what’s for sale.

Cocroft and Tru Source sought a ruling that the ban is unconstitutional.

In seeking dismissal of Cocroft’s challenge, attorneys for the state of Mississippi argued that the U.S. Constitution protects only speech that is lawful.

And since marijuana still remains federally illegal, there’s no First Amendment allowance for advertising such an “unlawful activity,” Mills ruled.

“This court can discern no federal interest which would justify the drastic intrusion upon state sovereignty urged by the plaintiffs in this case,” Mills wrote.

Federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

However, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is currently weighing a recommendation from federal health regulators to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 3 drug.