Pubdate: Sun, 15 Jun 2014
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Toronto Star
Author: Jacob Serebrin
Page: E8
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)


Marijuana Activist and Media Owner Jodie Emery Sees 'Tipping Point' 
For Legalization

On a Thursday in early June, Jodie Emery has an episode of her web 
series to film, potential employees to interview and blog posts to 
edit. The next day, there's a flight to Texas, where she's speaking 
at a conference organized by the U.S. non-profit National 
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

The following week, she'll visit the United States federal prison in 
Mississippi for about the 80th time in four years, where her husband, 
Marc Emery, widely known as the Prince of Pot, is currently 
incarcerated for selling marijuana seeds.

As the owner of Cannabis Culture, an online magazine, Pot TV, a 
Vancouver head shop and a lounge where customers can consume their 
own marijuana, Emery oversees a mini marijuana-themed empire. She's 
also become one of the best known marijuana legalization activists in Canada.

Previously an editor at Cannabis Culture, Emery came to the helm of 
the myriad of businesses founded by her husband when he went to prison in 2010.

"People were looking to me because Marc was gone," says Emery, who 
will be speaking in Toronto next week as part of the ideacity conference.

Now, just as the Emerys prepare for Marc's expected release next 
month, momentum for their cause celebre is building on both sides of 
the border.

"We're at a tipping point where even former prohibitionists are 
admitting they were wrong," Emery says. The former U.S. district 
attorney who prosecuted her husband, John McKay, has called the 
prohibition of marijuana a "complete failure."

Authorities in British Columbia won't be able to ignore it when 
marijuana stores begin opening just across the border in Washington 
State on July 1, she says (Colorado has also legalized marijuana, and 
more states are considering the move).

But she acknowledges that similar changes in Canada's marijuana laws 
- - which are set at the federal level - are a long way off, despite 
new rules that allow anyone to apply for a licence to grow and sell 
medical marijuana.

"If we were able to sell marijuana legally we would definitely do 
it," she says. But right now, "we don't sell seeds, we don't sell 
medical marijuana, we don't do anything illegal." Cannabis Culture 
and Pot TV, which received two million unique visitors and close to 
10 million individual page views in May, are Emery's highest profile 
businesses, but the small amount of advertising on the sites isn't 
enough to make them profitable in their own right. The store and 
lounge are "the biggest in terms of staff and money," she says. 
"Mostly, the business supports our activism." That's all set to 
change soon, with Marc's scheduled release July 9. On a personal 
level, it's exciting. "I do miss Marc terribly," she says. 
Professionally, it will mean little for her job as head of a group of 
organizations that stands to capitalize on the dramatic changes to 
marijuana laws south of the border.

The couple have more activism planned for when Marc returns, in the 
form of a cross-country homecoming tour to endorse the federal 
Liberal party because of its pro-legalization stance. It's an 
endorsement she's not entirely comfortable with - Emery has twice run 
as a Green party candidate in B.C., and twice as a B.C. Marijuana 
party candidate - but she says the issue is important enough that 
compromises have to be made.

"I know that change only happens through policy-makers and 
government," she says.

Emery is disappointed with the federal government's recent ban on 
medical marijuana patients growing their own plants, and requiring 
them to buy from licensed distributors - which have multiplied with 
the allowance of more businesses to grow marijuana.

"As a capitalist myself, it's great to see companies get in the 
game," she says.

But she disagrees with profiting from the sale of marijuana while it 
remains illegal, and she's a strong believer in consumer choice.

Emery envisions a future where marijuana is sold openly in a variety 
of settings, or grown by users at home. It's a question of freedom, she says.

It's also a question of tax dollars - governments are wasting 
"billions" in a failed drug war, she argues, adding that as much 
money could be generated through taxes.

That's the part of the message she likes to play up when she appears 
on the conservative Sun News Network or speaks to the Canadian 
Investor Conference.

"I reach a different audience than most pot activists," she says. "I 
change people's minds."

Emery knows that even if marijuana is legalized, it will likely be 
regulated similarly to alcohol. But she says that would still be 
better than the status quo, where people like her husband are going 
to jail, and prohibitionists continue to fight against loosening laws.

"The war continues," she says.
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