Feds Take Aim at Medical Marijuana Ads

Newspapers, radio stations could face Justice Department's wrath
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 13, 2011 5:39 PM CDT
Justice Department Takes Aim at Medical Marijuana Advertising
A bag of medical marijuana prescription bottles.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(Newser) – The next step in the war on drugs may be a war on ads. A federal attorney tells California Watch that she'll be cracking down on newspapers, radio stations, and other outlets that accept advertising for the medical marijuana industry. "I'm not just seeing print advertising," says Laura Duffy. "I'm actually hearing radio and seeing TV advertising. It's gone mainstream. Not only is it inappropriate—one has to wonder what kind of message we're sending to our children—it's against the law."

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But the law is murky: It targets the entity who "places" an ad for an illegal drug. That could put the publication itself at risk, notes a lawyer, because it's the publication that's "physically putting" the ad out there. That's how Duffy sees it, she says. "I am willing to read (the law) expansively and if a court wants to more narrowly define it, that would be up to the court." California is one of seven states that allows marijuana to be distributed at dispensaries, but the Justice Department says federal law trumps state law. (Read more medical marijuana stories.)

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