NORML Chapter To File Suit Over Free Speech Restriction

Columbia, SC: The South Carolina chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing organizers of the state’s largest annual music festival to allow representatives from Midlands NORML to distribute promotional materials at this weekend’s Three Rivers Music Festival.

Event organizers initially rejected Midlands NORML’s application to host a booth at the festival because they disapproved of the group’s literature – which argues for reforming marijuana prohibition. After receiving letters from the ACLU, Three Rivers Music Festival representatives agreed to grant Midlands NORML a booth at the event, but said that the group could not freely distribute their written materials to festival attendees.

Festival organizers stipulated to Midlands NORML that “members of your organization may not walk around the festival site and approach people attending the festival with the express purpose of handling them printed materials about your organization, the goals of your organization, or the purpose of your organization. If any members of your organization hand out printed materials to people who have not approached your tent, such action could result in the forfeiture of your location.”

Midlands NORML President Henry Koch called the restriction unconstitutional. “They’re saying that free speech exists only in that booth,” he said. “You either have free speech or you don’t have free speech.”

A judge is expected to rule on the issue before this weekend’s event.

For more information, please contact Denyse Williams, Executive Director of the South Carolina ACLU, at (803) 799-5151 or Midlands NORML President Henry Koch at (803) 691-5227.