Pot Smokers Unite Against Kellogg

Since Cannabis Culture Editor Marc Emery’s call for a boycott of Kellogg’s a few days ago for dropping Olympian Michael Phelps after he was photographed smoking a bong, pot smokers from across the globe continue to put the heat on the cold cereal company. Surprisingly, the mainstream media seems to be paying attention.

Pot Smokers Unite Against Kellogg

by Anthony Bartkewicz, MyFox National

Food company Kellogg announced on Thursday that it would not renew its sponsorship deal with 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps after a photo of Phelps smoking from a bong made the news last week. The company said in a statement that “Michael?s most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg.” But its handling of the Phelps incident has angered some pot smokers who are now calling for a boycott of the company.

Marc Emery, editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine, published an editorial recommending that “for 2009, marijuana smokers across the world boycott some or all Kellogg’s products in response to this clearly ignorant and prejudicial decision.” The editorial features a link to Kellogg’s complete list of products. The Huffington Post reports that the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Drug Policy Alliance have also called for a Kellogg boycott.

Huffington Post contributor Lee Stranahan posted a less serious take on Kellogg’s decision , calling the company hypocritical because “we believe that most people over the age of twelve would not eat Kellogg’s products were they not wicked high.”

– Article from MyFox National on February 9, 2009.

Did Kellogg’s Expect Backlash From Phelps Comment?

by Darren Rovell, CNBC

A week after Kellogg’s chose to make a statement on Michael Phelps even though its deal with the swimmer was set to expire in days, the company is probably facing more heat than it expected.

We didn’t get four phone calls returned when we wanted to ask Kellogg’s officials, why, if they were so enraged, have they not taken the extraordinary measure of pulling boxes off the shelves.

Since then, they now have a “Boycott Kellogg’s” Facebook page, that now has 3,288 members. And they got a good old ribbing from Seth Meyers on Saturday Night Live. Thanks to Chris at Eye on Sports Media for the catch.


Update: An organization called the Marijuana Policy Project announced it is supporting a boycott of Kellogg’s in light of its treatment of Phelps. “Kellogg’s dismissal of Phelps is hypocritical and disgusting, and our members are angrier than I’ve ever seen them,” said Rob Kampia, the executive director of the MPP. “Kellogg’s had no problem signing Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving (DUI in 2004), an illegal act that could actually have killed someone. To drop him for choosing to relax with a substance that’s safer than beer is an outrage, and it sends a dangerous message to young people.” The MPP claims to have more than 26,000 members.

– Article from CNBC on February 9, 2009.

Would you boycott Kellogg’s over Michael Phelps?

by Monica Guzman, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

When they saw the notorious tabloid shot of Michael Phelps taking a hit from a bong, the companies that bet money on his goodness had two options:

Forgive the record-setting Olympic swimmer for doing something our president did in his youth, or sacrifice his glory to set an example for the kids.

P-I columnist Joel Connelly was none too pleased with one cereal maker’s choice:

A box of Kellogg’s cereal sits in my Dumpster, part of a vow not to patronize the cereal maker’s products after it dumped Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps as a product endorser.

Connelly didn’t mention it in his column, but a Kellogg’s boycott is already underway online. Filmmaker Lee Stranahan posted a statement against the company on The Huffington Post Friday and more than 3,600 people have signed the attached petition.

There’s no way to know how many of the signatures belong to marijuana smokers, but the push is, predictably, stronger in that group. Cannabis Culture magazine editor Marc Emery last week called for all marijuana smokers to stop buying Kellogg’s products, which — by the way — include plenty more than cereal.

Maybe Kellogg’s saw this coming, and didn’t care. More people have signed a petition to bring back the “Halo” movie than Stranahan’s call against the company. Kellogg’s probably figured keeping Phelps would draw more protest than letting him go. They’re probably right.

Would you give up Pop Tarts over Phelps?

– Article from The Seattle Post-Intelligencer on February 9, 2009

Michael Phelps’ marijuana use puts focus on debate over the drug

by Chuck Culpepper, Los Angeles Times

The Olympic champion’s use of pot is far from a novelty in the sports world and leads to a discussion of whether it is much ado about nothing.

And so suddenly here’s marijuana — yep, marijuana — hogging itself another heyday, bolting into the spotlight, all but sashaying back into dialogue and shouting, “Hey, I’m still here.”

Shadowed in cycles through recent decades while other legal or illegal or performance-enhancing stimulants took turns getting all the hype, marijuana has just hollered in the case of merely the most-decorated Olympian in history, Michael Phelps. It has tried to yell from the recent past of the Super Bowl most valuable player, who alighted at Disney World only four months after a forgotten arrest.

It has appeared this week in the suitcase of an arrested college basketball point guard at an airport, and this winter in the possession of a former Dallas receiver, and a Seattle linebacker, and a Florida State receiver, and a retired NBA forward/center, and amid a Japanese sumo wrestling scandal if you can believe such, and in November with a New York Jets defensive end, and last spring in that bellwether moment on talk radio, when Dallas Mavericks forward Josh Howard readily said he enjoyed an inhale.

Marijuana? Who knew? Yeah, well, OK, pretty much everybody did.

“It has been constant in terms of it being the most popular of the illicit drugs,” said Roger Roffman, a professor at the University of Washington, whose study of marijuana in culture dates clear back to the Vietnam War as a social worker for the Army. Even if its relative usage doesn’t match its peak from the late 1970s, Roffman said its No. 1 ranking has remained impenetrable.

It’s just that news coverage and human discourse run in cycles, as Roffman reminded, and seldom has any cycle known a louder clash than a 14-time gold medalist heralded as classic Americana ramming into a photo at a party with a bong. Such a noise far occludes even the fact that Santonio Holmes, NFL superhero and honored Disney guest, logged a one-game suspension in October after Pittsburgh police pulled him over, got a whiff of his SUV and asked if he’d been smoking, whereupon, according to their report, he said, “No, but yesterday I was.”

Because sports permeates everything, those keen on the marijuana issue all along have seen the case of Phelps and his multitudinous corporate sponsors as a gauge of the American mood circa 2009.

Quiet ruled for days. Then Thursday, Kellogg’s halted its sponsorship of Phelps, finding his behavior “not consistent with the image of Kellogg’s,” the 103-year-old Michigan cereal titan. Subway, another sponsor, opted for censure but not discontinuance. From a far different culture, the Swiss watchmaker Omega deemed it “a non-issue.”

“I think there would have been a much stronger and larger fallout” for an American gold medalist 10 or 20 years ago, said Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In the Phelps brouhaha, Armentano has sensed a profound shift in national dialogue and in media questions, even if he does still chafe when incorrigible headline writers find double-entendres irresistible. In his view, a swift, toned, dominant athlete who “more than the average American is cognizant of what he puts in his body” simply “blows to smithereens” marijuana’s images of slackerdom.

“Kellogg’s is playing by the rules of 20 years ago,” Armentano said. “Subway is playing by the rules of 1986 and the ‘War on Drugs.’ Those rules have changed.”

This time around, in fact, some High Times website readers have called for a boycott of Kellogg’s, while Roffman surmises that could lead to opponents calling for a boycott of the boycott of Kellogg’s.

That’s because as the debate has roiled on and Roffman has followed it, he has detected four sides, all of which, he said, don “blinders” when regarding the other three.

Group 1 emphasizes that most adults who smoke marijuana do so occasionally and “without really any harm,” Roffman said, “and that’s a very hard thing for us to publicly acknowledge.” Group 2 stresses that “a substantial number of marijuana smokers get into real trouble” and “derail” from functionality.

Group 3 considers marijuana central to life on Earth and tends to live alternatively both culturally and politically, yet manages to function. And Group 4 entails medical users, whose approval in various states — California in 1996 — has helped soften the stigma over time.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, for example, trains on Group 2 and maintains in its policy statements, “Smoked marijuana has not withstood the rigors of science — it is not medicine and it is not safe,” and, “Legalization of marijuana, no matter how it begins, will come at the expense of our children and public safety.” More personally, a Colorado mother of a 12-year-old swimmer said of Phelps on ABC News, “I am absolutely appalled. Honestly, absolutely appalled, sickened and saddened.”

Epitomizing the dichotomy of views, 12 states have decriminalized certain amounts of marijuana possession but, Roffman said, “Would the rest of the states pass that? I have substantial doubts about that.” In the athletic realm, there have been 1994 Heisman Trophy winner Rashaan Salaam, who said on the record that marijuana made him lazy and impeded his progress, and five-time Pro Bowl NFL lineman Mark Stepnoski, who said on the record it helped him sleep and alleviate pain without enduring painkillers or hangovers.

Had Roffman run Kellogg’s, he said, he might have opted for a commodity rare in America: nuance. He might have suspended Phelps but said something akin to: We realize he’s a role model. We don’t believe children and adolescents should smoke marijuana. We also realize Phelps is an adult. We recognize that adults often smoke marijuana without being harmed. We also recognize that because he’s a role model, we support his attempt not to repeat this.

That’s too shaded for a zippy sound bite, of course, but that’s hemp in 2009, when a 47-year-old statesman can admit he smoked during youth and become a decisively elected president, and a 23-year-old athlete can succumb to a South Carolina party photographer and a British tabloid and a ruckus, but with his sponsors reacting variously.

It’s a marijuana era clearly new but still perplexing.

“There aren’t many places Joe and Mary Public can turn for a balanced, up-to-date, accurate, rational debate about marijuana and all of its glitter and all of its warts,” Roffman said. So even though the professor lacks a title just yet for his forthcoming memoir about 40 years following the bouncing dialogue, he does know that the title, for diverse reasons, will include the word “myth.”

– Article from the Los Angeles Times on February 8, 2009.