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Medical Marijuana Backers Say Missouri Library Denied Them Meeting Room

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
The Rolla Public Library didn't allow a Phelps County man to hold a meeting in one of its rooms because he advocates for legalizing medical marijuana, according to a lawsuit filed here by the ACLU.

The Rolla Public Library director denied Randy Johnson's request to reserve a room there because of his political views, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in a federal court in St. Louis.

Johnson, a volunteer coordinator with a campaign to legalize medical marijuana called New Approach Missouri, planned to host a training session for volunteers on how to lawfully and ethically collect signatures to advance a ballot proposition to legalize medical marijuana, the suit says.

His application to reserve a room was denied even though it met the library's criteria for room usage, the suit says.

The library's rooms are available to community groups for meetings that are open to the general public and not for commercial activities, according to the library's website. The policy says the library reserves the right to disapprove requests to reserve a room:

"Requests for use of the facility shall be made through the RPL staff who will book on a first come, first serve basis no more than 30 days in advance. At the time of the meeting a representative of the group is required to acknowledge acceptance of the Rolla Public Library Meeting Room Policy. RPL reserves the right to approve or disapprove any application."

Johnson was unconstitutionally discriminated against because of his political views, said Tony Rothert, ACLU of Missouri Legal Director, in a written statement.

"The Rolla Public Library violated Mr. Johnson's fundamental constitutional rights in denying him access to a public forum for organizing a public event," Rothert said. "His right to free speech was infringed upon by the library when it denied him access to the meeting rooms rather than following the library's own policies."

The denial meant Johnson had to pay to rent a room in a community center, the suit says.

"Being unable to reserve the public access rooms at the Rolla Public Library required Johnson's group to relocate training to a community center that charged for room use. For many community organizations, this is not an option."

The suit seeks an unspecified amount in damages and legal fees from the library.



News Moderator: Ron Strider 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Medical marijuana backers say Missouri library denied them meeting room | Law and order | stltoday.com
Author: Nassim Benchaabane
Contact: St. Louis Post-Dispatch contact information | stltoday.com
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Website: stltoday.com | the #1 St. Louis website
 
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