August 15, 2018


T-shirt sales for the Iowa State University student chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Rights will recommence next week following a court decision earlier in the month that blocked the school from prohibiting the apparel, which features a marijuana leaf and the ISU mascot, Cy.

In 2014, Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh, two members of ISU NORML, filed a lawsuit that claimed the school was violating their First Amendment rights to free speech by not allowing the club to use the mascot’s image after the school had already approved a T-shirt design that featured Cy.

In early April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit denied ISU’s request to halt the sales of any T-shirts while ISU filed an appeal to a January ruling that barred university administrators from using a trademark policy to prevent NORML from printing T-shirts depicting a marijuana leaf. Because of the circuit court’s ruling, ISU NORML has been given permission to begin printing shirts again.

”We were just really, really pleased and really excited to get a bunch of those T-shirt designs out. So, we’ve been wanting to do good T-shirts for a long time and we finally can,” said Eric Cooper, faculty advisor for ISU NORML.

According to Cooper, the students in NORML held a campus-wide contest to see who could create the best design for the newly allowed T-shirts and at the end of the contest two winners were picked out of roughly 20 entries.

”We had 19 entries to the contest, and then we submitted all those to the university for approval,” Cooper said.

He added that he was surprised when the university actually approved all of the designs that were entered by the student organization.

”They even approved ones with Cy on it, and they weren’t required to approve ones with Cy on it, so I was very surprised,” Cooper said. ”They said explicitly on one of our approvals that they thought the shirt violated their rules, but because of the order they were going to approve it anyway.”

Cooper said he believes the shirts were only approved because the university is doing everything it can to stay within the court’s ruling.

According to Cooper, the shirts are in production and he hopes they are available for purchase next week. He said he hopes the attention that has been given to the case will help the shirts sell quickly and that it should be good for the club.

ISU still has an appeal pending with the courts that could potentially stop the T-shirts from being printed again, but for now Cooper said the shirts will be available and the club is happy with that result.

Attempts to reach members of ISU NORML for comment Thursday were unsuccessful.

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