Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jun 2014
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 The Georgia Straight
Author: Travis Lupick
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)


Marc Emery's top picks for Canadian politicians go to the Greens and 
NDP. But he doesn't want you to vote for either of those parties in 
next year's federal election.

"Elizabeth May and Libby Davies are two of my favourite MPs," Emery 
told the Straight. "But there is a time when you have to make 
decisions about what's really important, and stopping Stephen Harper 
and replacing his government is the ultimate priority."

Emery was speaking from Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi, where he's 
serving the final month of a five-year sentence for selling cannabis 
seeds. In a wide-ranging telephone interview, the so-called Prince of 
Pot said a voter drive will be at the centre of a cross-country tour 
he's planned for the fall of 2015.

"We'll be trying to get young people out," Emery continued. "It's 
really important to motivate them to go out and vote for the Liberal 
party, because they could also split the vote between the Greens and 
the NDP, and I really don't want to see that happen."

Emery's relatively-newfound support for the Liberals is firmly rooted 
in his life's work aimed at ending the prohibition of marijuana. In 
November 2012, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau revealed that he 
was a "huge supporter of decriminalization", and that he wanted 
Canada to take a serious look at legalizing and regulating the drug.

Emery described Trudeau's position as "courageous and unprecedented".

"Normally, they all wait until they've retired out of politics before 
they advocate the legalization route," he explained. "Justin Trudeau 
is the only leader of a Canadian political party with any chance of 
forming the government who's ever done this. I thought it was pretty 
brave of him."

Criticizing a system of prohibition

Emery didn't have such kind words for every politician who's made an 
about-face on marijuana.

In May 2014, two former high-profile B.C. politicians announced they 
were going to work in Canada's booming medicinal marijuana industry. 
First, the province's former top cop, Kash Heed, signed on as a 
security consultant for medical growers. A couple of weeks later, 
ex-premier Mike Harcourt took a position as chairperson of True Leaf 
Medicine Inc.

Emery said he holds a "moral objection" against individuals who once 
helped imprison people for petty drug offences now profiting off the 
sale of marijuana.

"While they were in charge of administrations, they busted hundreds, 
if not thousands of people," he said. "They've never apologized for 
what they did....And now here our oppressors are actually taking 
financial advantage."

According to Emery, the larger issue is the legitimization of the 
Conservative government's Marihuana Medical Access Regulations 
(MMAR), and how those rules are being used to maintain a system of prohibition.

As of April 1, 2014, medicinal marijuana licence holders previously 
allowed to grow their own medicine were only permitted to purchase 
dried cannabis via mail order from large-scale producers. (The 
implementation of certain MMAR provisions has since been delayed by a 
court challenge and interim injunction.)

Emery argued this new system extends "extraordinary privilege" to a 
small group of corporations while "disenfranchising and 
marginalizing" people who grow small amounts of marijuana for private 

"This whole medicinal marijuana business just reeks of hypocrisy," 
Emery concluded. "Either we're free and autonomous individuals who 
can put in our bodies what we want, or we're not. This idea that 
there are somehow citizens with superior rights to others is 
ridiculous and unacceptable."

Emery also described the MMAR as a form of cooptation. He predicted 
that companies with licences to grow medicinal marijuana could soon 
act as a "bulwark against legalization".

"They're not going to want to give up their special privilege," Emery 
explained. "I fear that's what the Conservatives have deliberately created."

A cross-country tour in 2015

Emery is scheduled for release on July 10. On that day, prison 
officials will turn him over to U.S. Immigrations and Customs 
Enforcement (ICE) ahead of his pending return to Canada. It's unknown 
how long he'll be in the custody of ICE. Emery said it could take 
days, weeks, or more than a month, depending on the pace at which a 
bureaucracy processes his case.

His return to Canada will therefore likely happen in the late summer, 
at the border crossing at Windsor, Ontario. From there, he'll travel 
to London for a few days with family. Next up are public parties 
planned for Toronto and then Vancouver. Emery said he'll then be 
leaving Canada for an international speaking tour and vacation with 
his wife, Jodie.

The couple's itinerary includes Spain, France, Ireland, and Austria, 
after which they will return to Vancouver. A second trip abroad 
planned for 2015 is expected to take them to Jamaica, Uruguay, 
Argentina, and South Africa.

By that time, Canada will be preparing for the 2015 federal election, 
which Emery said will see him and Jodie make a 30-stop cross-country 
tour beginning in early September.

Asked if he was at all concerned the marijuana issue could backfire 
and become a liability for the federal Liberals, Emery argued that 
Trudeau has taken a position that has growing support from the public.

"For the first time in 40 years, the majority of Canadians are highly 
sympathetic to my point of view," he said.

Emery claimed he has no plans to run for office, but stated he 
expects politics to still consume the majority of his time once he's free.

"Getting rid of Stephen Harper and making sure Justin Trudeau is 
elected along with the Liberal party is a pretty major job," Emery 
said. "Really, the only job that I'm going to have in the next year."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom