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Cannabis Industry Says Ban on Advertising Violates Free Speech

Cannabis Dispensary

Hempfest is one of the biggest celebrations of marijuana in Seattle. Two of Washington’s leading marijuana retailers have filed a lawsuit to prevent the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board from maintaining its ban on advertising Hempfest. Organizers say the ban violates free speech rights.

Seattle Events has sponsored Hempfest at its location at Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Parks for 27 years, according to the Seattle Times. The lawsuit also cites a bulletin that encourages licensed marijuana businesses from participating in Hempfest events with threats of citations for violating advertising restrictions. The law says that advertisements for marijuana businesses can’t be within 1,000 feet of schools, public parks, libraries or playgrounds. Hempfest is held at a park.

Attorney Fred Diamondstone said, “City parks are the quintessential public forums that have been recognized as free speech areas under the Washington and federal constitutions for time immemorial.”

It’s unknown when the arguments will be heard or how these concerns will affect the festival this year, which is scheduled for early August.