From today’s 8th Circuit decision in Gerlich v. Leath:
Iowa State University (ISU) grants student organizations permission to use its trademarks if certain conditions are met. The ISU student chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU) had several of its trademark licensing requests denied because its designs included a cannabis leaf. …
ISU … [has] approximately 800 officially recognized student organizations. Student groups often create merchandise that contains the group’s name and ISU insignia to generate awareness about the group’s cause or attract members. Student groups may use ISU’s trademarks on merchandise if ISU’s Trademark Licensing Office (Trademark Office) determines that the use complies with ISU’s Guidelines for University Trademark Use by Student and Campus Organizations (Trademark Guidelines). ISU’s trademarks include word marks like “ISU” and “Iowa State,” as well as logos, such as the school’s mascot (Cy the Cardinal).
NORML ISU at first got permission from the Trademark Office to use a T-shirt “that had ‘NORML ISU’ on the front with the ‘O’ represented by Cy the Cardinal,” with “Freedom is NORML at ISU” and a cannabis leaf depicted on the back. But after a Des Moines Register article mentioned the T-shirt, a state legislator and someone at the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy heard about this and objected, and the University barred NORML ISU from printing further T-shirts with the design. After that, the University’s Trademark Guidelines were changed to ban “designs that suggest promotion of the below listed items … dangerous, illegal or unhealthy products, actions or behaviors; … [or] drugs and drug paraphernalia that are illegal or unhealthful.”