“Marc” your calendar for tomorrow’s date, folks. It’s the day that cannabis-activist and agent provocateur Marc Emery is officially released from an American federal prison and begins a brief purgatory in detention until Canadian and American bureaucrats process the paperwork that will finally see the Canadian citizen returned to his home and native land. By the end of August, Mr. Emery should be back in Vancouver, plotting the ongoing drive toward the full legalization of cannabis in this country and ending the ludicrous Prohibition that has benefited no one other than violent organized criminals.
A lot has happened in the last five years that Marc has been out of the public eye. The Government of Canada has taken a step-forward, and subsequently several-steps-back on the issue of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. The former U.S. district attorney who successfully prosecuted Marc, John McKay, has joined the side of the Good and called for the legalization and taxation of the sweet leaf on both sides of the U.S. border with Canada. And, as of yesterday, recreational pot-smokers in Washington state have full access to their relaxant-of-choice through licensed distributors.
Have Americans and Canadian authorities gone nuts? Isn’t pot the gateway drug that will lead you into a Pit of Iniquity, or debauched escapades with sloopy-eyed seductresses, or eventually jonesing for a hit of smack or meth on East Van’s mean streets?
No it’s not. Most folks haven’t been swayed by the hysterics that decry marijuana as the destroyer of youth and the waster of personal ambitions. A lot of fair-minded folks, most of them not regular users of marijuana, have taken the time to get educated on the history of marijuana prohibition and some of its unintended consequences. Frankly, only the most stupefyingly mendacious, or the most cynically-minded Law-and-Order-types acting as shills for private prison corporations, will cling to the old myths surrounding what must surely be one of Nature’s super-plants.
Marc Emery has been a shit-disturber for nearly my entire adult life. He’s been kicking against the pricks since he opened a bookstore in London, Ontario in the 1970s. At the time the teenaged Emery gained national news coverage as he was prosecuted for distributing the (at the time) illegal publication, High Times. Back then, Pot Prohibition laws were even more draconian, and pretty much anything alluding to the existence of the plant could get you a hefty fine or even jail time. It was silly then, and it’s silly now. Especially now that we know the truth about marijuana.
Now why should I be lionizing a badass shit-disturber like Marc Emery? True, his flamboyant antics have been misguided at times, according to some of his critics; but you have to admire the man for his indefatigable courage, tenacity, and generosity over the years in promoting changes to laws that have needlessly criminalized far too many talented souls and prevented legitimate medical users from accessing safe, effective and inexpensive remedies for their serious medical concerns.
Marc Emery’s serious Trouble began with his selling of marijuana seeds on the Internet. It was the early ‘90s and the Web was still in its infancy. Along came Marc with emeryseeds.com, inspired by a Cannabis Cup contest he attended in the Netherlands and the World-renowned Sensi Seed Bank. For folks who never saw his site, let me assure you, it was a remarkably user-friendly site, easy to navigate, and a joy to behold as one scrolled through literally over a hundred strains of sativa, indica and hybrid plants.
For the many interested website visitors, emeryseeds was like pornography for Stoner Culture the World over. And there, right there, as plain as day: instructions on how to cultivate, pictures of various stages of cultivation, tasting notes, descriptions of medicinal and psychotropic effects... and, of course, a means through which to purchase ten-seed packs from the Prince Of Pot himself.
All of this was done in full view of the Government and law enforcement agencies. Marc was never one to shrink from a principled stand against injustice; and he has never been afraid to loudly speak truth to power. In an interview in 2008, Marc admitted:
"Over the last 10 years, I operated openly and transparently. Six times a year, I sent every Member of Parliament a copy of my seed catalogue. I donated tens of thousands to politicians of every party, at every level of government. They all gladly cashed my cheques knowing full well the source of the money. Under the definition of the law, they are all guilty of money laundering, the very crime I'm being extradited for."
The seed business made the man the World’s most successful “potpreneur” and he made millions. And he spread the wealth lavishly amongst like-minded lobbyists and political activists in Canada and abroad. Always the aim was to end Pot Prohibition and to encourage provincial and federal politicians to harness the many economic benefits that cultivating the plant would reap.
Of course, we know how it all ended. The boot-licking sycophancy of Canadian government and law enforcement paid heed to their minders south of the border, the American Drug Enforcement Agency, and facilitated the arrest and extradition of Marc Emery to stand trial in the US. It was a dark day for Canada; and an even darker one for Marc Emery.
But it’s almost over, folks. Marc Emery is coming home; and I am grateful that he will be back in the spotlight once again. Marc’s example proves that if you’re going to stand up for what’s right, you need to do it with panache and some class. Wearing tie-dye and stinking like patchouli won’t do the trick. Just sayin’.
But above all, you have to be at it 24/7. Some battles are worth the fight. Happily, Marc is coming back just in time to do battle with our Government as it kicks into election campaigning mode. You can be certain that PM Harper will not be pleased with another high-profile critic awaiting his turn to show that Our Emperor in Ottawa has no clothes.
For more information on the efforts going forward, please check out stoptheviolencebc.org and Marc and Jody Emery’s web-presence at cannabisculture.com.
— Having lost his 2,500 volume library in the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire, Jeffrey is beginning to fill the void by writing his own. Reach him at jeff.loewen(at)gmail.com