Iowa State University loses appeal in marijuana T-shirt case

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ISU student and NORML spokesman Mike Bankers. Photo courtesy of the Iowa State Daily.

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa State University has lost an appeal in a federal free speech lawsuit that affirms student rights regardless of political viewpoint.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Monday that ISU administrators including President Steven Leath violated First Amendment rights of two students who were top officers of the ISU chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The students planned to print T-shirts depicting the school mascot and a marijuana leaf but Leath and others claimed it violated the school’s trademark policy.

The appeals court upheld a federal judge’s ruling that declared the school’s policy violated the students’ free speech rights and barred the university from prohibiting printing the T-shirt.

The case drew support from conservative Christian groups which say they’ve faced free-speech discrimination on campuses.