Photo Credit: Stonedware Company
Can this be legal? This question is being raised after pipes and chillums emblazoned with Bernie Sander’s slogan and logo started selling from 29 year old Portland glassblower, Ariel Zimman. What started as a well-intentioned source of grassroots funding (no pun intended) might actually backfire as questions are being asked about it’s legality. Mainly, is it legal for her to use Bernie’s likeness on her wares. Also, there’s another legal question in the mix, is it legal for Bernie to accept these contributions seeing as these glass pieces may be seen as paraphernalia.
“If I was advising one of these vendors, I would probably advise them to be a little less specific in their solicitation,” said Larry Noble, Former Federal Election Commission lawyer, currently working at the Campaign Legal Center.
This is a valid point, seeing as there is a hashtag associated with the product #burnoneforBernie and while cannabis is legal in Oregon, these can be purchased online. So, out of state sales might have more stringent requirements, and have their own interpretations of what constitutes paraphernalia. For example in some states, using certain words like “bowl” and “bong” instead of “pipe” and “water pipe” can be the difference between legal and illegal. So, if somebody orders one of these pieces and it breaks some local law, then there might be some legal liability taken on by the likeness under which somebody is selling a product. Most notably, this liability issue is what caused Tommy Chong, who coincidently endorsed Bernie recently, to do some time in jail. So back to the issue at hand, if Bernie accepts the money and acknowledges that it’s okay for his likeness to be used, then it may have some unforeseen consequences. Then, there’s a whole different issue that could be potentially troublesome too, which is where the U.S. Federal Government defines this operation as selling glassware or paraphernalia, because if he accepts it then there could be a whole issue with taking campaign contributions from illegal activity. Lastly, there’s the issue of whether it’s an authorized use of a likeness. Ken Gross, a lawyer with Skadden Arps commented, “I can’t imagine the campaign going against them… they’re supporters. They don’t want to turn them off.”
However, this question is a glance into the world of campaign finance laws, and also the inevitable complications that will ensue when the cannabis business is added to the mix.
All of these situations are hypothetical and open to interpretation, and some lawyers don’t predict any sort of legal blowback. However, this question is a glance into the world of campaign finance laws, and also the inevitable complications that will ensue when the cannabis business is added to the mix. In the meantime Zimman is still selling her Bernie themed smokeware as she awaits any sort of future legal action, if any occurs. And if anything does happen, she told the media that she’ll comply with any cease and desist orders from the campaign, “if they need me to stop and they ask me to stop, I’ll stop.”