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No appeal set in marijuana case



Published: Thu, January 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department has decided not to appeal a judge's decision throwing out a law aimed at keeping pro-marijuana ads out of the nation's bus and subway stops.

The law threatened to cut off up to $3.1 billion in federal funds to local transit authorities in 2004 if they displayed ads promoting the legalization or medical use of marijuana or other drugs. U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman ruled in June that it unconstitutionally infringes on free speech rights.

Acting Solicitor General Paul Clement sent letters to lawyers for the House and Senate saying Friedman's decision would not be appealed because "the government does not have a viable argument to advance in the statute's defense."

It is rare for the solicitor general not to appeal a ruling striking down a statute. Government lawyers had defended the law in arguments before Friedman.

The letter, sent last month, was made available Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union, one of four groups that sued the Transportation Department last year to overturn the provision that was tacked onto a 2004 spending bill by Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla.

An Istook spokesman said the lawmaker had no comment on Clement's letter.




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