Pubdate: Mon, 26 Jan 2015
Source: Ubyssey (CN BC Edu)
Copyright: 2015 Ubyssey
Author: Alex Lenz


Marc Emery's downtown office looks exactly the way you'd imagine it
would - adorned with bongs, weed art and a visiting cat. No other work
setting would be appropriate for an activist who has dedicated his
life to libertarianism and drug legalization.

Over the past twenty years, Emery has firmly established himself as
local celebrity and an international symbol for the legalization of
marijuana. After spending just over four years in various US federal
prisons for selling marijuana seeds across the border, Emery is now
campaigning for the Liberal Party's success in the upcoming elections.
Headed by Justin Trudeau, the party has taken an explicitly
pro-legalization standpoint.

"This election is unlike any other in that legalization is on the
ballot, essentially. You get a chance to legalize pot, and we can pull
this off or not pull this off =C2=85 this is not the time to wait and see
This election could be on us at any time," said Emery.

Emery's movement is nothing new to the city of Vancouver. In 1995,
Emery held the first-ever 4/20 celebration in Victory Square, a now
global event which rallies smokers together and encourages
legalization. Additionally, in 2001, he founded the British Columbia
Marijuana Party in retaliation to the lack of representation of the
issue of marijuana legalization in mainstream politics.

"If no one listens to you, you run in an election and try and get
people to listen to you. And that's what we did =C2=85 because nobody was

listening to us, we decided =C2=85 we're not going to support these other

parties, we're going to get our own party. And we'll run," said Emery.

Although Vancouver is now a world Mecca for cannabis culture, the city
wasn't always as politically active in the issue of legalization.
Massive growth in the industry within the past decade has led to the
rise of marijuana enterprises and capitalist-minded stoners who are
reaping the benefits of said growth.

There are now over 60 dispensaries in Vancouver, which serve to meet
the high demand for cannabis consumption, in addition to the already
abundant black market.

"What I'm most proud of is turning the pot people into good
capitalists. But now it's gone to a bit of the other extreme, in that
money dominates every aspect of cannabis. Think about why they're
legalizing it. They're not legalizing it because it's our human right
to put something in our bodies. They're legalizing it because they
want to get tax revenue," said Emery.

For Emery, the legalization of drugs represents a greater
philosophical and political issue.

"The government has violated all sorts of sanctions against our body,
daily, in every possible way - from in our food, to in our water, to
in our septic system, to in the plastic water bottles we consume. We
should tell them that they can go fuck themselves and that pot should
be legal, as should any other drug, because we have that right as
human beings to choose autonomously what to put in our body, and what
to do with our body, for that matter."

Emery will be speaking at UBC, SFU and UVic on his small university
tour. Small, because the university population doesn't prove to be the
most engaging demographic when it comes to the issue of legalization.
He argues that despite the fact that many students do smoke pot, the
student population tends to come from higher socioeconomic
backgrounds, and in turn, the disadvantages associated with the
criminalization of marijuana don't affect students as greatly as the
mainstream pot smoking community.

Marc also commented on the lack of activism and passion among the
student population, and how this is related to student's vision of
their future.

"You'll find that university students can compartmentalize very
efficiently, what goes on in their university time. They think it's
all just transition anyway. Plus, they're thinking opportunistically.
All university students want to graduate, they want to go somewhere.
Do they want to be seen advocating legalization of drugs?"

Emery will be speaking at UBC on January 27 in the Frederick Wood
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