|What’s the big deal?|
An attorney and marijuana advocate from southwestern Nebraska is suing the state Department of Motor Vehicles after his application for a personalized license plate was denied because state officials claimed it would “promote illegal drug use.”
The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed the federal lawsuit Thursday on behalf of Frank Shoemaker of Holbrook, saying that Nebraska violated Shoemaker’s constitutionally protected right to free speech, reports KETV.
|Attorney Frank Shoemaker wants a license plate reading “NE420.” The State of Nebraska won’t let him have it. He’s suing.|
“Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of marijuana use,” Shoemaker said, reports the McCook Daily Gazette. “This is a conversation happening around the country, so how can Nebraska say it’s illegal to even talk about it here?”
Shoemaker had applied earlier this year for a vehicle license plate that read “NE420,” according to the lawsuit.
The DMV rejected Shoemaker’s application, claiming the number 420 is “associated with a date and time for people to gather and smoke marijuana/cannabis.”
The lawsuit aims to have the DMV’s rejection declared an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.
Shoemaker has submitted a proposed ballot initiative to the Nebraska Secretary of State’s office, which will need to collect valid signatures from 10 percent of the state’s voters — more than 112,800 signatures — before July 7.
Nebraska has a policy against vanity plates that “express, connote or imply objectionable, obscene or offensive words or phrases,” and apparently state officials find the very mention of 420 “offensive.”
Shoemaker’s move has already achieved one important goal — drawing attention to the proposed ballot issue.