Pubdate: Wed, 13 Aug 2014
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The London Free Press
Author: Kate Dubinski
Page: A1


Marijuana activist and former Londoner Marc Emery is out of U.S. 
custody, back in Canada and still committed to the fight to legalize 
pot - but much has changed in the 4 1/2 years he's been away

The world Marc Emery left in 2010 is very different than the one he 
came home to Tuesday. Yes, marijuana was legalized in several 
American states while the pot activist sat in U.S. federal prison for 
selling cannabis seeds from his Vancouver business. Canadian law has 
changed, too, with medical marijuana dispensaries dotting the streets 
of major cities, including on the very block he'll go home to when he 
and his wife fly home to British Columbia this week. But perhaps the 
biggest shock Marc Emery is in for is a personal one. When he was 
extradited to serve his American sentence, his wife, Jodie Emery, was 
learning how to run the couple's store, maybe prepared to do some 
media interviews while her husband - the public face of the pot 
legalization movement in Canada - served his time. Now, the tables 
have turned. It's Jodie Emery who's the public face of pot reform. 
It's Jodie Emery who's seeking the Liberal nomination in Vancouver 
East. It's Jodie Emery who has tried to make! sure everyone knows the 
Emerys support Justin Trudeau and his federal Liberal party, the only 
major party to publicly support pot legalization. It's Marc Emery - a 
self-described egomaniac - who has become a political liability to 
the movement. His welcome back to Canada Tuesday was jovial, with 
more than 100 pot activists greeting him as he stepped out of the 
customs building in Windsor after a 12-hour day in shackles. He'd 
travelled by plane, then van, from a detention centre in Louisiana.

In the lead-up to her husband's release, it was Jodie Emery who was 
fielding the questions, doing live radio and TV interviews, tweeting 
and talking up the Liberal party as the only option for Canadians 
wanting pot legalized. "(Justin) Trudeau and the Liberals are willing 
to listen. I'd love to be part of that team," Jodie Emery said. "I 
want to demonstrate that I can have a grassroots (nomination) 
campaign and that I can win." The Liberal leader has been silent on 
Jodie Emery's plan to seek the Vancouver East seat. She says she's 
picked up her nomination papers and has been asked by the riding 
association to run. But as Marc Emery spoke with reporters and pot 
supporters Tuesday - he arrived just after 4 p.m. and was still at it 
two hours later - Jodie Emery took a backseat, standing slightly to 
the side of the podium, handing her husband bottled water as he 
called Prime Minister Stephen Harper a "tyrant," an "evil man" and a 
"Machiavellian manipulator."

That's going to have to change, even Marc Emery admitted, saying his 
wife, once his "protege," has had 4 1/2 years "to come out of (his) 
shadow. She's had time to establish that, and now it's up to me to 
adapt to that. I have to . . . tell people, especially young people, 
to go out and vote." Marc Emery, who has been to jail two dozen times 
for his pot activism, has changed tactics.

Instead of advocating civil disobedience - smoking huge joints on the 
steps of police stations, including in London, where he was raised 
and ran City Lights Bookshop - the Emerys have decided to try to help 
get marijuana legalized by working from within the system that's 
thrown Marc Emery in jail so many times.

"Civil disobedience has worked in the past, but it won't work now," 
he said. "We need to get off social media, we need to get young 
people to get out, talk to each other, talk to their friends . . . 
explain to them why they are voting Liberal and to actually go to the 
ballot box." Potheads don't vote - Marc Emery said it himself 
Tuesday. It might be up to him to get them fired up, but he'll have 
to take a step back and do something he's never done before: let 
someone else take the reins.

Q & A

Q Why try to change laws from within the political system rather than 
civil disobedience?

I'm going to quote Malcolm X - 'By any means necessary.' Civil 
disobedience has worked in the past but it won't work now. We need to 
get off social media, we need to get young people to get out, talk to 
each other, talk to their friends, talk to their parents, explain to 
them why they are voting Liberal and to actually go to the ballot box.

Q How do you encourage young people to vote?

I tell them to visualize what it would be like to get pot for $2 a 
gram, to go for a picnic and be able to smoke a joint, to get people 
off prescription drugs and opiates and smoking marijuana. That's a 
beautiful future. If you can visualize that, you can take half an 
hour to vote."

Q The Conservative government says Justin Trudeau is trying to make 
drugs more accessible to children. What do you think of that argument 
against legalization?

Marijuana does not lead to people being bullied, it doesn't cause car 
accidents, it doesn't incapacitate people, it doesn't cause people to 
date rape. If I were a parent, I would say, 'Let them have the pot,' 
and pray that they stay away from alcohol and tobacco and drugs. . . 
. The only way children's lives would be ruined by marijuana is if 
they get a criminal record because of it.

Q Was (selling seeds and getting arrested) worth it?

Yeah, it was worth it. If you're alive and healthy, it's all worth 
it. Humans can adapt to anything. We're unhappy when we don't focus 
on the positive. My parents raised me in an atmosphere of positivity 
and love, so I take that with me wherever I go.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom