Iowa State University Loses Appeal Over Marijuana-Themed Shirts
The students, Erin Furleigh and Paul Gerlich, who were presidents of the ISU chapter of NORML, wanted to create T-shirts with the school's mascot and a marijuana leaf. The 8th U.S. Circuit of Appeals ruled yesterday that ISU administrators, including President Steven Leath, violated the students' First Amendment rights, according to The Des Moines Register.
Furleigh and Gerlich sued the university in July 2014 after officials rejected the group's T-shirt design, which depicted a marijuana leaf and the phrase "Freedom is NormL at ISU."
The two considered legal action after the university told them that they couldn't event print the name of their organization on the shirt because the "M" stood for marijuana.
The three federal judges on the panel unanimously upheld a federal judge's ruling last year that the school's policy violated the students' rights, and any attempt from the university to prohibit them from printing the shirt would be infringing on those rights.
In its appeal ISU officials said that the Constitution and a recent Supreme Court decision gave the school officials discretion in permitting trademark use in this case, but the court disagreed.
"NORML ISU's use of the cannabis leaf does not violate ISU's trademark policies because the organization advocates for reform to marijuana laws, not the illegal use of marijuana," the court said, according to The Des Moines Register.
"I'm most excited about the ruling being unanimous," Gerlich told The Des Moines Register. "That shows how we were clearly in the right from the start."