NORML ISU Chapter Wins Big in Court of Appeals


Apparently, “Freedom is NORML at ISU.”

The Court of Appeals for the 8th U.S. Circuit concluded today that the Iowa State University NORML chapter was indeed discriminated against during the school’s abnormal trademark approval process, and was driven, at least in part, by pressure from Iowa State lawmakers.

The T-shirt in question, emblazoned with the ISU Cardinal on the front and a marijuana logo above the catch phrase “Freedom is NORML at ISU,” caused more than a little consternation in 2012 among ISU’s administrators and Iowa’s right-wing power base.


Freedom is NORML at ISU

Upset that Cy the mascot would be utilized to spark meaningful marijuana reform discussions around the ISU campus, President Steven Leath and Senior V.P. Warren Madden forgot their fundamental civics lessons and violated the First Amendment rights of Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh, the two students responsible for heading up of the ISU chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws on campus.

Originally okayed by the school’s Trademark Office, the design and decision to accept it became a political quagmire shortly thereafter when a story about marijuana legalization included a photo of NORML ISU members proudly wearing their new ISU/NORML shirts.

Besieged by bad logic and responding to an onslaught of political objections from both state legislators and Iowa’s chief drug policy adviser, ISU administrators caved to the political pressure.

After the school effectively rescinded its approval of the pro-legalization t-shirt by declining to let the ISU NORML group order more shirts, altering the guidelines for using any existing ISU trademarks, and stipulating that any new NORML ISU T-shirt designs be subjected to special scrutiny – the group sued in July 2014 and eventually won that legal battle. After US District Judge James Gritzner ruled the school’s policy violated the student’s right to free speech and barred ISU from prohibiting the printing of these pro-legalization T-shirt, ISU’s President and his group of miscreant administrators decided to appeal the case.

Now, several years after the fact, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed with the initial ruling handed down by Judge Gritzner; “The defendant’s’ rejection of NORML ISU’s designs discriminated against that group on the basis of the group’s viewpoint,” the justices wrote.

Aimed at focusing awareness on the importance of reforming today’s marijuana laws, this case drew attention and support from both sides of the political spectrum, according to Yahoo news.

“This decision protects, not just for this group but for all these groups, the ability to participate in the marketplace of ideas and not be discriminated against because the government doesn’t like your views.”

Still undeterred by their most recent legal smackdown, a spokesman for Iowa State University claims school administrators are “reviewing the decision” and have yet to decided whether or not to appeal the ruling for a rehearing by the 8th Circuit or elevate the case for consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court.

About Author

Born in Long Beach, raised on the central coast: I surf, dab, burn, and blog – though not necessarily in that order. I'm a husband, a father and a lifelong consumer of connoisseur grade weed. I don't drink alcohol or consume any other "drugs." I consider myself to be living proof that weed is not a gateway drug. If it were, I'd be in some serious trouble. Instead, as a 50-year-old ex-realtor that has been smoking weed for nearly 80% of my life (just did the math) ... I can only say, marijuana is safer than prescription pills or alcohol could ever hope to be for calming what stirs the savage beast.


  1. Heather Milder on

    If you want a NORML ISU t-shirt, replete with Cy and a leaf, you can mail:

    1) a note specifying your size and a return address, and

    2) a $15 check (or cash, although that is not recommended)

    to the current NORML ISU treasurer* (endorsed to NORML ISU) at the address below:

    Jackson Lebedun
    NORML ISU Treasurer
    3906 Maricopa Drive
    Apartment 204
    Ames, IA 50014

    *Verification Link:

  2. Such a beautiful article! The tide is definitely turning! Pro marijuana advocates are beginning to accumulate victory after sweet victory and rightfully so! This country has demonized cannabis for far too long, especially when it’s somehow socially acceptable to get ridiculously drunk on a potentially lethal substance like alcohol. That’s pure hypocrisy right there…you can drink as much alcohol as you want, but God forbid if you take a few puffs off a joint or a bowl packed with weed. Fortunately, the marijuana myths and lies are being crushed by scientific research which supports this plant as being relatively harmless and quite beneficial as a medicine for dozens of ailments. 60 % of the American people are in favor of full blown legalization now. Our laws need to change to reflect the will of THE PEOPLE!

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