Tattered Cover, Inc. v. Brohl

No. 13-cv-01431 (D. Colo. June 11, 2013)


In June 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch issued a permanent injunction barring the enforcement of a Colorado law restricting access to magazines whose focus is marijuana. The injunction was issued after the state of Colorado joined the plaintiffs’ attorneys in asking the district court to declare the statute unconstitutional.


Colorado passes law creating restrictions on marijuana magazines

On May 28, 2013, the Colorado legislature passed the Retail Marijuana Code [4], which included a provision, Section 12-43.4-202(3)(c)(II), that required store owners that allow anyone under 21 years old on their premises to keep all magazines whose primary focus is marijuana or marijuana businesses behind the counter.

Media Coalition files lawsuit

On June 3, 2013, Media Coalition and the ACLU of Colorado filed a lawsuit [2] in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on behalf of some Media Coalition members and Colorado bookstores and newsstands. They argued that because publications and other means of communication devoted to marijuana are not a category of unprotected speech, the law violates the First Amendment.

The plaintiffs are: Tattered Cover; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association; Back Country Books (d.b.a. Boulder Book Store); Thomas Mulligan (d.b.a. Magpies Newsstand in Durango); Newsstand Solutions (d.b.a. Book Train in Glenwood Springs and Woody’s Newsstand in Greeley); and Mountain States News Distributors (operating Al’s Newsstand in Fort Collins).

Three marijuana-related magazines filed a separate lawsuit [3] challenging the law. The plaintiffs in that case, Trans-High Corporation v. Colorado, are Trans-High (d.b.a. High Times Magazine), The Daily Doobie and The Hemp Connoisseur. The magazines argued that the law violates their First Amendment rights.

Court issues permanent injunction

On June 10, 2013, the state of Colorado joined the plaintiffs’ attorneys in asking U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch to declare Colorado’s restrictions on marijuana-related magazines unconstitutional and to enter a permanent order blocking their implementation and enforcement. The joint filing was submitted to the court by both the Attorney General and the bookstores, newsstands and magazine publishers who opposed the restrictions. It stipulates that requiring magazines “focusing” on marijuana to be sold from behind the counter violates the First Amendment and the Colorado Constitution.

On June 11, 2013, Judge Matsch issued a permanent injunction [1] barring enforcement of the law.

Last updated: Oct 1, 2015