OXFORD, Miss.—On Monday, Judge Michael P. Mills of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, dismissed a lawsuit filed by Tru Source Medical Cannabis owner Clarence Cocroft challenging the state’s ban on advertising legal medical marijuana businesses. Clarence, represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), will appeal the decision.
“I’m prepared to fight this fight for as long as it takes,” said Clarence. “This case is bigger than me and my dispensary – it is about defending the right of everyone to truthfully advertise their legal business in the cannabis industry.”
Clarence opened Tru Source in Olive Branch, shortly after the state law legalizing medical cannabis went into effect in 2022. Mississippi law allows for the cultivation of medical marijuana to be sold to prescription holders in state-licensed dispensaries, such as Tru Source. Under state law, the Department of Health (DOH) has wide discretion to enact restrictions on advertising by dispensaries and the DOH has decided to take that discretion to the extreme by prohibiting dispensaries “from advertising and marketing in any media,” including newspapers, television, magazines, social media, billboards, and email lists. Essentially dispensaries are only permitted to have signage on their own property and maintain a web presence with “general information” about the business.
“When Mississippi legalized medical marijuana, it relinquished its power to censor speech by medical marijuana businesses,” said IJ Senior Attorney Ari Bargil. “If a product is legal to sell, then it is legal to talk about selling it. We look forward to proving to the appeals court that Mississippi’s ban on advertising medical marijuana businesses doesn’t just hurt those businesses’ bottom lines, it also violates the First Amendment.”