Laws around MMJ advertising in Mississippi are more restrictive than in other state markets.
A Mississippi medical marijuana dispensary owner filed a federal free speech lawsuit against state officials, claiming they’ve wrongly infringed upon his First Amendment rights by prohibiting all advertising for MMJ companies.
“All I want to do, like any other business owner, is have the opportunity to advertise. If I pay taxes in this business, which I do, I should be able to advertise,” said plaintiff and dispensary owner Clarence Cocroft II, the Associated Press reported. “All I’m asking from this state is to provide us with the same liberty that they’ve provided other businesses.”
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi against state Department of Revenue Commissioner Chris Graham, state Alcoholic Beverage Control Bureau Chief Pat Daily, and Dr. Daniel Edney, the chief health officer at the state Department of Health.
Cocroft, who owns Tru Source Medical Cannabis LLC, said that he went so far as to purchase multiple billboards in highly trafficked areas in northern Mississippi, but he has been forced to rent them out to other businesses because he can’t use them under state rules.
“It’s simply unfair that every other legal business in Mississippi is allowed to advertise, while I have to rely on word of mouth,” Cocroft said, according to the AP.
While it’s common for many states with functional marijuana markets to also have stringent advertising restrictions, Mississippi goes farther than most, with rules that bar all MMJ advertising “in any media.”
Cocroft and other dispensary owners are allowed to employ advertising to reach patients only if it is on their own property or their own websites, which Cocroft’s attorney said was unconstitutional.
“The state government cannot simultaneously authorize the legal sale of a product or service, while forbidding the truthful advertising of said product,” said lawyer Katrin Marquez, who represents Cocroft. “No law, state or federal, justifies the censorship in this case.”
Spokespeople for the state agencies being sued either declined to comment or could not be reached by the AP.
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