Pro-marijuana group changes name but keeps POW logo

The group formerly known as Veterans For Weed has agreed to slightly alter its name after the nation’s largest organization for combat veterans raised objections to the use of the VFW acronym. The newly named veterans group will now be called Veterans For Weed United. “We have chosen to remove all current artwork using the VFW sign,” said a statement on the group’s website. “We respect the Veterans of Foreign Wars and apologize for any inconvenience this caused them with the similar abbreviation.” However, the group isn’t backing down from appropriating a modified version of a POW/MIA logo as a symbol of its campaign.

Veterans of Foreign Wars, which owns the copyright to the acronym VFW, sent a cease-and-desist order to the Milwaukee-based pro-pot organization demanding it stop using the name. Joe Davis, a spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the marijuana group has taken a small step. “We would prefer their new acronym be something different, like VWU (Veterans for Weed United) but at least it helps eliminate some confusion,” Davis said. Davis added that continuing to use the POW/MIA logo is wrong.

“They should be ashamed,” he said. “What they have done is a total insult to their memory and sacrifice, and to their families who still grieve.” The original POW/MIA logo, designed for the National League of POW/MIA Families but never copyrighted, features a silhouette of a prisoner of war with a prison camp guard tower in the background. The altered version, called the “Pot POW” logo by VFWU, shows the soldier smoking a joint and adds marijuana plants to the foreground. “We love veterans. And the POW flag has just as much meaning to us as anyone else,” the VFWU statement said. “POW logo is not copyrighted, and is an art piece for all people. This may offend some of you. We apologize that you take offense, but we will not be changing our symbol.”

Pot POW is the group’s name for someone who is jailed for marijuana use. “We did not alter the POW flag lightly, or because we were high. We take it very seriously. As far as fighting the good fight, we fight for the legalization of marijuana, and we use the tools available to us.” “The day that marijuana is legalized, we will pull this logo down ourselves and delete it from our servers,” the statement said. Another change the group made was to close its online store where it sold shirts, caps, buttons and mouse pads with the name Veterans For Pot or with the Pot POW logo.

“The store did not make any profit, but was merely a device to help publicize the site and offset some of the costs of hosting. However, in the spirit of good faith, we decided that the store isn’t needed,” the statement said. VFWU’s statements come from someone identifying himself as Hemp Solo, a Marine veteran who has refused to give his real name. Solo said in a statement that his organization was dedicated to veterans who use marijuana, a habit that may have come from service in Vietnam when troops were “often encouraged to smoke weed.”

“Pot’s ability to reduce stress is a treatment for stress disorders resulting from traumatic events that occurred during war while they are at home,” Solo said. “However, veterans who chose to smoke weed to help with stress are condemned for doing it now.” He is not the only person to say that. “We believe in the use of medical marijuana for those suffering from PTSD and other ailments,” said David Apperson, an Army veteran and spokesman for the advocacy group Vets Helping Vets. “We are totally against the use of or modifying of the POW/MIA logo.”

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