UPDATE: The group formerly known as Veterans For Weed has altered their name after the nation’s largest organization for combat veterans raised objections to the use of the VFW acronym. The Veterans group will now be called Veterans For Weed United. A message on their website now reads, “We have chosen to remove all current artwork using the VFW sign. We respect the Veterans of Foreign Wars and apologize for any inconvenience this caused them with the similar abbreviation.”
A pro-marijuana group has offended the nation’s largest group of combat veterans by using the group’s modified logo on their web site, Facebook page, and on t-shirts, hats and other marijuana-related items.
The group, based in Milwaukee, is called Veterans for Weed. They borrowed the logo from the National League of POW/MIA Families that show a silhouette of a soldier and a prison tower. The group has altered the logo to show the soldier smoking a joint. Their website and Facebook page was filling up with complaints asking them to stop using the POW/MIA logo and the VFW acronym, which also represents the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The Veterans for Weed, so far, have not backed down. A representative for the group, identified as Hemp Solo and a Marine veteran, said they did now intend to offend anyone and apologize to those they did offend. But the image is not copyrighted, so they say there is no legal reason why they should stop using it.
The website had a message posted today that said, “We did not alter the POW flag lightly, or because we were high. We take it very seriously.” But they did get a cease and desist letter from legal counsel of the Veterans of Foreign Wars that said if they wanted to avoid further legal action by the VFW, that Veterans for Weed must immediately cease using VFW on communications, products, or other representations. [Update from Russ: Veterans for Weed has changed to "Veterans for Weed United", or VFWU, to avoid a lawsuit.] The letter clearly stated that the VFW is not affiliated with and does not support Veterans for Weed or any of their initiatives. The statement does agree that the logo, however, is not copyrighted and is in the public domain, but called terms used on the website highly offensive, such as “stoner soldier” and “semper high”.
A chairman of the National League of POW/MIA families said that offenders will usually stop using their logo when asked, or when pressured by members of POW/MIA family members. She said that all they can legally do is to keep asking them to do what is right and responsible. Hemp Solo said in a statement for the Veterans for Weed group that the usage of the logo is important to get attention to the issue of vets who are jailed and their lives are ruined because of a little pot. He says that they have also received quite a bit of positive feedback as well, so they like that he logo is stirring up the conversations. Solo said that when you are in prison because of pot, they you are a POW, a prisoner of weed.