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Law treating pot mags like porn challenged

9:15 PM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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DENVER - A pair of local marijuana publications are preparing for a legal challenge in the event that Gov. John Hickenlooper signs a sweeping marijuana bill into law.

Contained within HB-1317, a bill that sets regulations for retail pot, is a requirement that requires magazines "whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses" to be sold behind the counter.

The law would not apply to marijuana shops because they will not be open to people under 21.

The idea for the law came a couple of weeks ago when Gina Carbone was buying her kids Slurpees inside a 7-Eleven store in Denver.

"I'm at the counter paying and the boys were next to me and out of the corner of my eye I see that they're all huddled together," Carbone sad. "I turn and look and of course, they're huddled around a High Times magazine."

That led to an uncomfortable exchange.

"My son was asking what a vaporizer is. I don't want to explain that because he's looking at that kind of stuff in magazines," Carbone said.

Carbone was already involved with SMART Colorado, a group lobbying for strict control of pot, so she worked to get language into the marijuana regulation bill to address the issue.

"This magazine belongs with other magazines that are not appropriate for people under 21," Carbone said.

There are at least three Colorado-published periodicals that focus on pot, and they see this differently.

"They're basically treating us like we're porn," said David Maddelena, who publishes The Hemp Connoisseur (or THC), a bi-monthly magazine. "They're saying you have to be behind the counter."

Focused on industrial hemp and marijuana, THC magazine contains everything from legal tips to recipes and ads for pot.

It and another Colorado publication, The Daily Doobie, plan legal action if the bill becomes law.

My first amendment rights are being violated right now," Maddelena said.

Losing access to convenience stores is an especially big problem for his magazine because it's free.

The governor is expected to sign the bill. If he didn't, Colorado would have no regulatory structure for pot.

That means this is almost certain to go to court.

The first amendment hasn't protected tobacco companies from restrictions on their ads.

But magazines are different than the ads inside of them, which makes it difficult to predict what a court may decide.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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