Change the Climate, along with the ACLU, MPP, and DPA File Historic Lawsuit

Discussion in 'Marijuana Legalization' started by RMJL, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. An email I received today.

    Today, Change the Climate, along with the ACLU, Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) filed an historic lawsuit against the Bush Administration and the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority for violating our First Amendment right to run marijuana law reform ads in public transit facilities.

    As you may recall, our "Marijuana, Sex and Taxes" advertising campaign on 600 buses, train platforms and bus shelters last fall in Washington outraged right-wing, anti-drug law reform lawmakers, including Representative Ernest Istook (R-OK) who inserted censorship language into the massive federal spending bill. That bill was signed by President Bush and became law on February 2.

    Change the Climate uses provocative transit and billboard ads to stimulate public debate about our country's ineffective, dangerous and expensive marijuana laws. Conservative lawmakers in Washington - like the leaders of Troy taking in the Trojan Horse filled with Greek soldiers - took the bait and delivered us the opportunity to educate citizens about our wasteful marijuana laws. Thank you Representative Istook.

    The lawsuit asks the court to declare the Istook Amendment unconstitutional, to order the Washington Metro System to accept our paid advertisement, and to prohibit the federal government from cutting off any funds to WMATA or other transit authorities that permit the display of advertisements "promoting the legalization or medical use" of marijuana or other controlled substances.

    The lawsuit responds to an amendment buried in the federal spending bill that cuts off all federal funding from local transit authorities that display advertisements critical of current marijuana laws, while at the same time providing $145 million in taxpayer money for pro-"War on Drugs" advertising that focuses primarily on an anti-marijuana campaign. Advertisements appearing in public buses, trains, and subways systems have become a key strategy for the White House's billion-dollar media campaign, which delivers its message via more than 1,300 media outlets nationwide. So much for a fair public debate!

    Fearful of losing millions of dollars in federal support, the Washington Metro system last week rejected a paid advertisement sponsored by Change the Climate, the ACLU, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Marijuana Policy Project. The ad shows a group of ordinary people standing behind prison bars under the headline, "Marijuana Laws Waste Billions of Taxpayer Dollars to Lock Up Non-Violent Americans."

    In our press release, I state "Our constitution ensures that citizens can get both viewpoints on marijuana issues. Government ads promote expensive and harsh punishment, while our ads suggest new ways of thinking that protect our children and save tax dollars."

    Graham Boyd, director of the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project ads, "The government does not want the public to know how badly our drug policy has failed, so it is trying to silence Americans who oppose the War on Drugs. Fortunately, the First Amendment clearly prohibits this kind of blatant viewpoint-based censorship."

    The advertisement, press release, my press statement, the complaint, and background information are online at: www.changetheclimate.org www.aclufairnessnow.org, , www.drugpolicy.org, and www.mpp.org.

    Now is the time to get involved! Please make a contribution at www.changetheclimate.org/supportus

    Download our ads and spread them far and wide.

    Send our website URL to your list of family and friends. Let's make marijuana issues a priority for our political leaders - help them overcome the manufactured fear to speak out.

    I'll make sure to keep you informed as we seek to expand media coverage of our lawsuit and the message that marijuana laws need to be debated and changed!

    Thank you for your support!

    Joseph White
    Executive Director
     

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