Drug Policy Alliance
APRIL 20, 2004
9:35 AM
CONTACT: Drug Policy Alliance  
Tony Newman 646-335-5384,
Anjuli Verma (203) 787-4188
Federal Court to Hear Arguments re: Government Censorship of Marijuana Law Reform Ads

WASHINGTON - April 20 - At 9:30 a.m. next Wednesday, April 28 the nation’s major drug policy reform groups will present oral arguments before Judge Paul L. Friedman in two consolidated lawsuits filed against the United States government and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) for censoring the speech of those critical of the government’s “War on Drugs.”

With more than $85 million at stake, WMATA rejected in February an advertisement submitted by the ACLU, Change the Climate, the Drug Policy Alliance, and the Marijuana Policy Project that promotes the reform of our nation’s marijuana laws. The groups are challenging Section 177 of the 2004 federal spending bill, which directs Congress to deny federal funds to local transit authorities that display advertisements promoting “the legalization or medical use of any substance listed in Schedule I…of the Controlled Substances Act.”

The lawsuits, filed on February 18, ask the court to declare the law unconstitutional because it coerces local transit authorities into censoring pure political speech protected by the First Amendment. The lawsuits name Norman Y. Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, and Richard White, the CEO of WMATA, respectively, as defendants.

The rejected advertisement, previous press releases, the plaintiff’s complaint, the United States government’s opposition brief, and the plaintiff’s reply brief can be found online at: www.aclu.org/drugpolicy, www.changetheclimate.org, www.drugpolicy.org, and www.mpp.org.

WHEN: Wednesday, April 28 at 9:30 a.m. EST

WHERE: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

333 Constitution Avenue, N.W. / Washington, D.C. 20001 Courtroom 17 – Open to the Public

WHO: Hadrian Katz, Arnold & Porter LLP, Counsel for Plaintiffs

Arthur B. Spitzer, ACLU of the National Capital Area

Steve Fox, Director of Government Relations of the Marijuana Policy Project

Bill Piper, Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance

WHAT: Oral arguments in challenge to government censorship of marijuana law reform advertisements. Spokespersons for the groups bringing the challenge will be available after the hearing.