- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004

The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Metro and the federal government, claiming their ban on pro-marijuana advertising stifles free speech. The suit is similar to one filed against Boston’s transit agency. The ACLU lost that lawsuit, and we hope it suffers the same fate in U.S. District Court.

The suit was filed on behalf of three organizations: Change the Climate Inc., the Drug Policy Alliance and the Marijuana Policy Project. Change the Climate, which is based in Boston, and the ACLU succeeded last year in getting Metro to accept its advertising campaign — at no charge, since it was a public service announcement. Moral denouncement would be more fitting, since one of the ads said: “Enjoy better sex! Legalize and Tax Marijuana.”

The ads sent the wrong message in a region with frightening teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS rates.

Metro officials themselves criticized the content of the ads. Jim Graham, a D.C. Democratic council member who sits on the Metro board, said last fall that the ads were “over the edge.” By winter, when Congress began threatening legislation that would force Metro to lose funding if it accepted such ads, Mr. Graham spoke out of the other side of his mouth, calling congressional action “petty and punitive.” The legislation, written by Rep. Ernest Istook, prohibits Metro from accepting ads that promote the “the legalization or medical use” of controlled substances, including marijuana. This week, after the lawsuit was filed, Mr. Graham emerged with yet a third opinion, saying “we” should support the ACLU. (Mr. Graham and the ACLU filed a lawsuit in 1998 on behalf of the medical marijuana initiative.)

The lawsuit was filed after Change the Climate and others came calling with yet more pro-drug ads. This time Metro stood its ground — fearful of breaking the law and angering Congress and taxpayers, who generously foot their bills. Metro made the right choice.

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