Pubdate: Tue, 10 Feb 2009
Source: Charlotte Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2009 The Charlotte Observer
Author: David Crary, Associated Press
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Bookmark: (Drug Policy Alliance)
Bookmark: (Students for Sensible Drug Policy)


NEW YORK - Snap, crackle ... pot?

Bursting with indignation, legions of legalize-marijuana advocates are
urging a boycott of Kellogg Co., including all of its popular
munchies, for deciding to cut ties with Olympic hero Michael Phelps
after he was photographed with a pot pipe.

The leader of one of the biggest groups, the Marijuana Policy Project,
called Kellogg's action "hypocritical and disgusting," and said he'd
never seen his membership so angry, with more than 2,300 of them
signing an online petition. "Kellogg's had no problem signing up
Phelps when he had a conviction for drunk driving, an illegal act that
could actually have killed someone," said Rob Kampia, the group's
executive director. "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."

Also urging a boycott were the National Organization for the Reform of
Marijuana Laws, Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the Drug Policy
Alliance. They encouraged their members to contact Kellogg to vent
their views. In one sign of the campaign's impact, the Phelps saga
took precedence over the tainted peanut butter outbreak in the
recorded reply on Kellogg's consumer hot line Tuesday.

"If you would like to share your comments regarding our relationship
with Michael Phelps, please press one to speak to a representative,"
said the recording. "If you're calling about the recent peanut butter
recall, please press two now."

From Kellogg's media office, there was no immediate reply to a request
for an assessment of the boycott campaign. A Kellogg spokeswoman, Kris
Charles, said by e-mail, "Our contract with Michael Phelps was set to
expire at the end of February and we made a business decision not to
extend that contract." Last week, the company announced his contract
would end and described Phelps' conduct as "not consistent with the
image of Kellogg." Kellogg has been placing images of Phelps on the
fronts of Frosted Flakes and Corn Flakes boxes since September, after
the swimmer's record-shattering haul of eight gold medals at the
Beijing Olympics.

The groups calling for the boycott were angry at Kellogg, but also
eager to use the opportunity to restate long-standing calls for
decriminalization of pot. "It's not just that Michael Phelps did what
millions of other twenty-somethings do," said Ethan Nadelmann,
executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. "It's that he did what
over one hundred million Americans have done at least once in their
lives, including the president, former presidents, members of the U.S.
Congress and Supreme Court." Similar commentary sounded even in
mainstream media - including columns in the Washington Post, the Wall
Street Journal and National Review Online questioning the rationale
and effectiveness of U.S. marijuana laws. Norm Stamper, a former
Seattle police chief active in the push for easing marijuana laws,
released a letter to Kellogg in which he pleaded for "sane, sensible,
and compassionate drug policies" and suggested the company had
"underestimated the country's maturity on this issue." He also said he
had purchased his last box of what had been his favorite cereal -
Kellogg's Mueslix.

Of Phelps' numerous big-name sponsors, Kellogg was the only one to
publicly cut ties after the pot photo emerged. While it received some
support, the giant food company has also been singled out for mockery
by a host of comedians, bloggers and others.

On Saturday Night Live, Seth Myers questioned whether marijuana use
was in fact at odds with Kellogg's image.

"Every one of your mascots is a wild-eyed cartoon character with
uncontrollable munchies," Myers said. "Every one of your products
sounds like a wish a genie granted at a Phish concert."

On the Huffington Post, blogger Lee Stranahan pursued that theme in a
proposed petition to the company that said in part, "We believe that
most people over the age of 12 would not eat Kellogg's products were
they not wicked high."

Stranahan's petition concluded with this call-to-arms: "Given all
these facts and the total disregard for your customer base ... we the
undersigned plan to BOYCOTT your products. And we're serious. Even
though the Pop Tarts thing will be HARD."
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin