A photo of President Barack Obama, a former marijuana smoker, is seen on the cover of the magazine 'Cannabis Now' at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Colorado Regulators Ditch 'Absurd' Rule Treating Marijuana Publications Like Porn

The state's attorney general decided the legislature-mandated restriction was unconstitutional.

A photo of President Barack Obama, a former marijuana smoker, is seen on the cover of the magazine 'Cannabis Now' at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

A photo of President Barack Obama, a former marijuana user, is seen on the cover of 'Cannabis Now' magazine at the HempCon medical marijuana show, May 24, 2013, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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Marijuana-themed publications won't be treated like pornography in Colorado, state regulators announced Thursday in the face of lawsuits.

The rule would have forced stores to keep publications with a "primary focus" on pot away from shoppers under the age of 21, and was mandated by a package of legislature-approved marijuana regulations signed into law by Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper on May 28.

Colorado's State Licensing Authority said the rule was unconstitutional and would be ignored. An "emergency rule" issued by the licensing authority said "such a requirement would violate the United States Constitution" and Colorado law.

The decision was made with input from the state attorney general's office. "We support the laudable goal of keeping retail marijuana out of the hands of those under 21, but that has to be consistent with the Constitution," a spokesperson for the state attorney general told The Denver Post.

[POLL: Majority Supports Marijuana Legalization]

Colorado's marijuana-regulating legislation mandated that the licensing authority adopt a rule by July 1 "[r]equiring that magazines whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses are only sold in retail marijuana stores or behind the counter in establishments where persons under [21] years of age are present."

"We applaud the Attorney General's decision to declare as unconstitutional this absurd rule that marijuana-related publications be treated like pornographic material," said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project.

"The idea that stores can prominently display magazines touting the joys of drinking wine and smoking cigars, yet banish those that discuss a far safer substance to behind the counter, is absolutely absurd," said Tvert, who co-directed the successful Amendment 64 campaign that legalized pot in Colorado. "The fact that legislators passed this rule despite being informed it is a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution demonstrates the bigotry that still exists with regard to marijuana. It is time for our elected leaders to get over their reefer madness and recognize that a majority of Coloradans – and a majority of Americans – think marijuana should be legal for adults."

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It's unclear if other restrictions might be deemed unconstitutional. Two federal lawsuits, one filed by the three pot publications – High Times Magazine, The Daily Doobie and The Hemp Connoisseur – and another by the ACLU on behalf of booksellers, had sought to have the rule declared unconstitutional in court.

Permanent rules for recreational marijuana will be crafted by Colorado's State Licensing Authority with input from an appointed "representative group" of citizens over the summer. A formal rule-making hearing is scheduled for the week of August 19.

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