Judge rejects plea to expand pot ads

By: John Ingold The Denver Post
February 18, 2014 Updated: February 18, 2014 at 5:10 am
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photo - In this Aug. 4, 2013 photo, a man identified only as Pedro holds a leaf from a marijuana plant at his home in Mexico City. A group of leftist Mexico City lawmakers have introduced a bill, Thursday Feb 13, 2014, to legalize the sale of marijuana in the nation's capital. Since 2009, Mexico has allowed the possession of 5 grams of marijuana, about four joints, for personal use. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte)
In this Aug. 4, 2013 photo, a man identified only as Pedro holds a leaf from a marijuana plant at his home in Mexico City. A group of leftist Mexico City lawmakers have introduced a bill, Thursday Feb 13, 2014, to legalize the sale of marijuana in the nation's capital. Since 2009, Mexico has allowed the possession of 5 grams of marijuana, about four joints, for personal use. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte) 

A federal judge has initially rejected a plea from High Times and Westword magazines to block state rules that prevent recreational marijuana businesses from advertising in most publications.

But Chief U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger said she would let the magazines amend their lawsuit to keep the case alive.

Colorado rules for recreational marijuana businesses prohibit the shops from advertising in publications unless the publication "has reliable evidence that no more than 30 percent of the publication's readership is reasonably expected to be under the age of 21."

Medical-marijuana businesses do not face such restrictions.

High Times and Westword argued the recreational marijuana rules violate their free speech rights. But, in an order issued Friday, Krieger wrote that the magazines don't have standing to challenge the laws because they are not the ones bound by them.

"Generally," Krieger wrote in the order, "a party cannot challenge laws or regulations that burden someone else's rights."

Krieger concluded the magazines might have standing if the rules had discouraged stores from even considering advertising in the magazines. But High Times and Westword didn't allege specific instances where marijuana stores had chosen not to advertise because of the state's rules.

Krieger denied a motion for an injunction against the rules but ruled that the magazines could amend their lawsuit to fix the issue.

Attorney David Lane, who is representing the publications, said the problem cited is, "basically a small issue."

"We're going to be amending the complaint within the next three weeks to get more plaintiffs involved," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Attorney General's Office earlier would not comment.

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