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Pot Laws Are Veterans' Issue

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#1 DEBhasgrn

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 03:38 PM

'Hemp Solo' Says Pot Laws are Veterans' Issue

February 02, 2012
Military.com|by Bryant Jordan

Attached File  pro-pot-powmialogo399x266.jpg   28.04KB   6 downloads
William Solomko knows he’s making a lot of people angry by using the famous POW/MIA image as the logo for his pro-marijuana website, Veterans for Weed United. He doesn’t care.

“Sometimes that’s the job of art, to piss people off,” said Solomko, who goes by the name “Hemp Solo” on his Veterans for Weed United website and Facebook page. “It makes people start talking, then other people start talking to them.”

What the former Marine and Vietnam combat veteran wants people talking about is what he calls the discriminatory nature of the country’s drug laws. Not only are they unfair, he says, but their enforcement disproportionately affects veterans, because a great many veterans smoke pot.

That claim gained some support in a 2005 National Survey on Drug Use and Health study that found there is a higher rate of marijuana use among the U.S. veteran population.

Solomko admits to being one of them. In 2005, police found marijuana seeds germinating in his home, where he grew his own plants. He got two years probation. The last time he was arrested, it was for possession of 7 grams of pot, less than a quarter ounce.

“I pleaded guilty … and now I’m a felon,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “It happens to thousands of guys, and especially veterans. Every day I get emails from guys who had to take a urine [test] at their work or took the test for insurance, and it comes back positive” for marijuana.

They lose jobs, maybe their home and their family, he says.

“And for what? All for a little weed,” Solomko said. “But if you’re famous like Willie Nelson or if you make films and you’re a movie star, if you’re a well-to-do sports person, nothing happens to you. But if you’re ‘Joe Blow’ or ‘Jane Blow,’ you suffer.”

Solomko has been making his point publicly since he put up his Veterans for Weed website in 2009. His site was even noted in a June 2010 High Times magazine article about veterans using medical marijuana for pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.

But after two years of mostly sailing under the radar, the website came under fire on Monday when the military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported on its use of the POW/MIA logo and the initials “VFW”, which are copyrighted by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

After the real VFW threatened legal action, Solomko said he would honor its demand to stop using those letters. He has since changed the name of the group to Veterans for Weed United, or VFWU.

But he refuses to stop using the POW/MIA flag, which he has modified to show the “prisoner” smoking a joint. The flag image never was copyrighted by artist Newton Heisley or the group for which he designed it, the National League of POW/MIA Families.

Solomko believes the image best represents the plight of pot-using veterans who have criminal records or are still serving time for using and possessing marijuana.

Heisley was a World War II Army Air Forces pilot who, according to Solomko, deliberately did not copyright the image because he wanted it in the public domain, to be used by everyone.

Military.com could not confirm that; Heisley died in 2009.

Whatever the artist’s wishes, Solomko said he’s hearing from plenty of people over his use of the image. He says the majority of people emailing him are on his side and have no problem with the POW/MIA flag But not all of them.

“I’m getting calls at home, people telling me to watch my back, and to watch the front door,” he said. “Everyone wants to kill me! They don’t even know me!”

Solomko said he hopes that all controversy will prompt people to focus on the issue he is raising, and not just the flag.

“What is good about this is it’s stirring up conversation,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing -- except for the danger involved.”
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#2 teddys head

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Posted 03 February 2012 - 12:14 PM

interesting for sure thinking.gif

thanks Debs :)


Health and happiness





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