Pubdate: Thu, 01 Apr 2004
Source: Meliorist, The (CN AB Edu)
Copyright: 2004 The Meliorist.
Author: Nathan Sharpe
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)


"Some of the topic we will be discussing today will deal with civil
liberties, women's rights, the full legalization of Cannabis, and the harms
of prohibition." This controversial topic started off a two hour-long
presentation at Lethbridge Community College on Thursday, March 25th.

Marc Emery was scheduled to be there as part of his Canada wide tour, but he
was arrested a few days prior in Saskatchewan. He wanted to speak about how
to have a voice in government, but his arrest meant that Sarah Schmitt and
Charlie Christianson, a few like-minded friends, spoke in his place.

The crowd in the room was not disappointed though. Schmitt used his arrest
as a perfect example of why people should "stand up for themselves and do

She said that 75 per cent of people in the 18-24 year old age group did not
vote in the last federal election and "that means that we don't have a voice
in government, no one represents us."

She explained the circumstances of Emery's absence as an example of what can
happen to those who have no voice. He was at a gathering of 15-20 people who
had been there for some time smoking pot before he got there. Shortly after
he arrived, so did the police. He was arrested on the charge of trafficking,
for passing a joint with no monetary exchange.

Schmitt looked unimpressed when she said "Marc the vegetarian has been held
in jail for the last three days and fed bologna sandwiches." Of all people
present, he was one of two arrested, and the other one was arrested for
speaking out when everyone else merely dispersed.

This was the start of what became a debate between some of the students.
Some argued that Emery's arrest was lawful, because he was breaking the law.
Others argued that it was selective law enforcement.

The speakers then gave accounts of people being strip-searched on possession
charges in similar situations such as Emery's. These allegations did not go
well with those in attendance who are studying law.

Schmitt gave an account of one of these searches. One 18 year old "came in
after one of Marc Emery's arrests and he was crying.he was absolutely broken
down. He was so afraid of what would happen because he had been sexually
abused as a child."

It was at this time the majority of the talk moved on to the motivations for
the legalization of marijuana.

Christianson spoke to this issue passionately. He said that what people
"[know about marijuana] is what they were told from other people and the
only people that really know what marijuana does to you is the people that
have used it. I use society's eyes, I should be a loser, I should be
sitting on a couch doing nothing, going nowhere with my life. I am happily
engaged to be married, I am setting direction in my life.I'm not unmotivated
whatsoever.I like to thank marijuana for that."

That first hand account was followed by Schmitt's analysis of what marijuana
could and could not do.

Marijuana cannot kill people and tobacco and alcohol combined kill almost
half a million Canadians per year.

Marijuana plants bring nutrients to the surface, the seeds are a good source
of protein, you can make fuel from the plant, and you can make fabric as

These facts aside, one of the most compelling things she has to say was that
in British Columbia alone, pot is a $6,000,000,000 business. If taxed, the
revenues would be an estimated $420,000,000 and the industry currently
employs 290,000 people.

She posed the question "how many lives could we make better with that kind
of money?"

It was at this time that Preston Scholtz, president of the LCC Student
Association, started to get agitated. The talk was supposed to be about free
speech and had turned into a marijuana debate.

The speakers didn't mind though. They used it as another example of what to
fight for. Schmitt said, "I don't think censorship should be allowed in

She then tied that into the marijuana debate. To her and her brother, the
legalization of marijuana and free speech are both very important, and she
used them as an example of what anyone can do.

"We can do anything we want to do. [You] as an individual have the power to
get out there and voice your opinions." 
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