Take A Toke of Hope: NORML Cheeses Off Obama Photographer

Remember the photos of a young, baby faced Barack smoking hand-rolled ciggies? Well, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has pissed off the taker of those photos through some, er, creative “Fair Use” appropriation.

From BlackVoices:

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has produced a psychedelic, ’60s-style poster featuring a photo of college freshman “Barry” Obama smoking. Above his super-bad Panama hat is the slogan: Yes We Cannabis.

Artist Sonia Sanchez created the poster for NORML’s annual conference using a picture taken at Occidental College in 1980 by the future president’s classmate Lisa Jack. In the original photo, Obama is holding a real cigarette to his lips. Sanchez tweaked the smoking material to fit her theme, but otherwise the image is unchanged.

The pro-pot group never sought Jack’s permission, even though it is selling the poster as well as giving it away to conference-goers, NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre acknowledged in an interview with The Washington Post.

Jack told the Post she’s “very irritated” and does not want her work, which is on display at a Los Angeles gallery, used in this way.

NORML believes it’s protected by “fair use” rules, but it’s far from a clear-cut case. Ashby Jones writes on The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog it “just might take the cake as Best Fair-Use Smackdown Ever.”

I’m not a pot smoker but I have to admit … that’s a pretty cool poster. Crazy. But kind of awesome.

14 thoughts on “Take A Toke of Hope: NORML Cheeses Off Obama Photographer

  1. imo it’s an ugly poster, it looks like the class project of a bunch of third graders with crayons. Maybe Sanchez was high when she created it? Plus it’s unoriginal- "yes we cannabis"?-sigh. I hope Lisa Mack sues for them to stop using it.

  2. I thought it was hella cool when I got it in the mail a few days ago. I wish he would do something about reforming our ridiculous drug laws, especially as they relate to marijuana.

  3. " … that’s a pretty cool poster. Crazy. But kind of awesome."That’s pretty much what I thought when I first saw it too.What’ll it take for this country to stop freaking out about pot?

  4. I think photgrapherLisa Jack has a strong case against the organization that is using this virtually untouched photo to promote smoking pot. This is not fair use, it "unfair" misuse of the original photographic work of the photographer. Moreover, it’s insulting to our president, who in fact was not smoking a blunt but instead a cigarette when he posed for this photo almost 30 years ago when he was a freshman in college. I think the misuse of this photo of our president is disgraceful!

  5. LMAO!too bad he had budlight at beer-gate. if he had natty light or milwaukee’s beast, then i’d believe he’s one of the guys.

  6. LOL Scott, that’s a good one.I actually kinda like it, it reminds me of the 60s Haight-Ashbury posters, but them I am old. I too would love a reform of the marijuana laws along with making alcohol harder for teens to get.

  7. It’s funny how people seem to question fair use the most when it pertains to things that they don’t agree with. Had this photo been made for the "Silly Straw Hats Lobby" convention, I don’t think the photographer and others would be crying foul so loudly.I also own this poster and it’s not a promotion of pot smoking. It’s a promotion of NORML’s national convention in San Francisco next month. But if it was, so what? The president even admitted that he smoked weed when he was younger and that he "inhaled frequently… that was the point", as he once said. If his opponents, or supporters for that matter, didn’t already know this they really weren’t paying attention or doing their homework on him. Truth is, he was all for cannabis law reform when he was a senatorial candidate back in 2004 but what a difference a couple of years (and probably thousands of drug prohibition lobbying dollars) makes, I guess. Sure, "Yes We Cannabis" is not original, but it’s been chanted by most of us for cannabis reform ever since Obama became the presidential front runner (back when we naively thought we had a presidential candidate who was sympathetic to the cause).

  8. TBI:If the poster doesn’t promote pot smoking then why use the picture of Obama? He is not being touted as a guest speaker at NORML’s national convention, is he?

  9. I’m afraid I don’t understand your reasoning, Scott. I never looked at this poster and assumed it was only promoting weed smoking. Or is it that the name NORML automatically makes you and certain others associate it with pot smoking or stoners and not marijuana law reform?No, Obama’s not speaking at the convention, but then again, why not use Obama? I realize he not supposedly not smoking weed in the picture but he is our current president who openly admitted to using a lot of bud (as well as other drugs) in his past. Then there’s the whole irony factor of going from being a fresh faced politician who was for drug reform to being a proponent for the status quo when it comes to the "War on [Some] Drugs" in a matter of a few years. I like the symbolism.

  10. TBI:Advertisers will use a picture of a famous or popular person using their product to get others to want to use it as well. We all know what NORML’s product is. So if Obama is not speaking at the convention, why use his picture in the first place? It doesn’t make any sense other than to make some association between Obama and pot use.

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