Iowa State administrators motion to stop NORML t-shirt production denied


Photo: William Deaton/Iowa State

Tom Hill, senior vice president of Student Affairs, and Warren Madden, senior vice president for Business and Finance, look at the NORML ISU T-shirt during a meeting with the club. The shirt is the subject of controversy due to the logo of ISU mascot Cy being used, since the use of marijuana is illegal.

Alex Connor

four-year long battle between four ISU administrators and two ISU students came to a head again — and this time, same as last, a court ruled in the students’ favor.

Iowa State’s motion to halt T-shirt production of the student chapter for the National Organization for the of Reform of Marijuana Laws, NORML, was denied in a ruling by the 8th U.S. Court Circuit of Appeals on Thursday.

“The stay filed by appellants is denied. The motion to supplement filed by appellants is denied. The motion for conditional leave to supplement filed by appellees is also denied,” the circuit ordered.

The choice to appeal, which John McCarroll, executive director of university relations, explained in a statement from mid-February, rooted from the fact that the defendants felt that “this is an important issue of law.” 

“It is our view that the U.S. Constitution and a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision gives us discretion in permitting trademark use,” McCarroll said.

The defendants listed in the case include ISU President Steven Leath, Senior Vice President for Business and Finance Warren Madden, Director of Trademark Licensing Leesha Zimmerman and former Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Hill.

For now, NORML ISU is free to produce and distribute T-shirts with the ISU logo and anything else it may please, including a cannabis leaf.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, FIRE, which has represented plaintiffs Erin Furleigh and Paul Gerlich since July 2014, when they first decided to file a suit against the university, fought their case on the basis that the university had infringed on the organization’s First and 14th Amendment Rights.

They won Jan. 22 with the court’s ruling that “the university is now permanently restricted from enforcing the trademark policies against NORML in a discriminatory manner.”

NORML ISU has 19 new T-shirt designs ready to use that “convey the group’s message that the laws criminalizing the use of marijuana should be repealed — core political speech protected by the First Amendment,” according to FIRE’s website.