A glimmer of hope: CRN’s NY age-restriction case moves forward on First Amendment issue

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / 	Valerii Evlakhov
Getty Images / Valerii Evlakhov

Related tags Crn New york

While some media outlets have focused on how most of CRN’s case has been struck down, CRN’s Mister is looking at the development as “a reason for measured celebration.”

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) received an update Tuesday in its lawsuit that aims to overturn a law restricting the sale of some supplements to minors in the state of New York.

A federal court in the Southern District of New York has dismissed all claims in CRN’s lawsuit, however it did leave some hope for the trade by denying the State of New York’s motion to dismiss CRN’s claims that the recently enacted age-restriction law in the State infringes on lawful commercial speech and violates the First Amendment rights of supplement marketers and retailers. 

This week’s ruling permits CRN to continue arguing on the merits that the law infringes on the right to make truthful and lawful claims for certain dietary supplements in the muscle support or weight management categories. CRN has standing to pursue these claims on behalf of its members, the judge previously decided. 

“CRN’s primary challenge to the New York law—namely, that it is an unconstitutional infringement on the First Amendment rights of marketers, retailers and consumers to disseminate and receive truthful and lawful information about our products—proceeds to briefing on its merits,” Steve Mister, CRN’s president and CEO, said in a LinkedIn post.​ 

In the same post, Mister pointed to a recent headline that noted that most of CRN’s case has been struck down, saying “It's what the judge did *not* strike down that is the real headline here.”


CRN initially filed its lawsuit in March 2024, arguing that the New York law's broad and ambiguous definitions lead to unwarranted restrictions on a wide range of dietary supplements. CRN alleged that the law's vague language creates a chilling effect on commercial speech, prompting retailers to overly restrict access to beneficial products out of fear of penalties.

A judge in the Southern District of New York denied CRN’s motion for a preliminary injunction​ against the law April 19th. 

The legislation (A.5610​/S.5823​​) went into effect April 22. CRN continues to argue that the statute infringes on First Amendment rights by restricting truthful commercial speech and access to lawful products without clear scientific justification.

The law defines dietary supplements for weight loss or muscle building as: products labeled, marketed, or otherwise represented for the purpose of achieving weight loss or muscle building, but not including protein powders, protein drinks and foods marketed as containing protein unless those products contain an ingredient other than protein which would, considered alone, constitute a dietary supplement for weight loss or muscle building. 

Examples of those ingredients include creatine, green tea extract, raspberry ketone, Garcinia cambogia and green coffee bean extract, according to the text of the bill. 

The law also states that a dietary supplement may be subject to the age-based sales restriction through the actions of the retailer by “placing signs, categorizing or tagging the supplement with statements,” suggesting that the supplement will impact weight, fat, appetite, metabolism, muscle or strength.

The law prohibits retailers from selling dietary supplements to individuals under 18 years old if the products, or their ingredients, are labeled, marketed or otherwise represented for weight loss or muscle building. CRN argues in the lawsuit that the statute infringes on First Amendment rights by restricting truthful commercial speech and access to lawful products without clear scientific justification.

Looking ahead

Speaking to NutraIngredients-USA, Mister said that as CRN prepares to appeal the district court judge’s earlier decision on their preliminary injunction, he is encouraged by yesterday's ruling. 

​It’s clear the sales restrictions in the New York law are based on the content of truthful, and otherwise lawful claims made for the products, which means these are restrictions on commercial speech. This means the law faces heightened scrutiny by the court: it must be directly related to addressing the government’s substantial interest in curtailing speech and be narrowly tailored to address only that speech. It’s clear the New York law fails on all these counts. We are confident in our legal arguments and look forward to presenting them to the court.

Natural Products Association​ 

The Natural Products Association (NPA) filed a separate suit against New York in December​ and recently announced its own efforts for a preliminary injunction​.

On April 23rd the judge allowed NPA’s motion for a preliminary injunction to move forward, but limited it to the Dormant Commerce Clause​.

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