Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jul 2015
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Dan Fumano
Page: 4


Cannabis Conference: Emery Says It's 'Satisfying' To See Key 
Enforcement Figures Shifting Sides in Debate

As the dreadlocks-and-sandals crowd mingled with the suit-and-tie 
types Sunday at Simon Fraser University in Harbour Centre, Marc Emery 
commented on how much has changed over his 25 years of cannabis advocacy.

New, unfamiliar faces have appeared, he said, while old, familiar 
figures have changed sides.

The "Prince of Pot" surveyed the crowd of 200 at the Vancouver 
Cannabis Conference, expressed surprise and said: "I don't even know 
any of these people."

"All these new people, that's probably the most noticeable thing. All 
these new businesses, all this new money, all this respectability," 
he said. "These are not typical-looking stoner types. These are 
interested adults who are willing to spend a whole day learning about 

The one-day conference included panel discussions on the legalization 
of cannabis and its medicinal and ritualistic use, as well as 20 
exhibitors representing a range of businesses.

Conference organizer Salimeh Tabrizi said: "For many decades, 
cannabis has been stigmatized. There's been a lot of negative 
stereotypes associated with the plant. And today, we're here to turn 
a new leaf."

The event was a sellout with around 200 attendees, Salimeh said. 
Tickets cost $45 and included "food, drinks and product samples."

Emery's wife, Jodie Emery, also a prominent activist who spoke 
alongside her husband on a panel Sunday, pointed out this month marks 
10 years since the American Drug Enforcement Administration, in 
collaboration with Canadian law enforcement, arrested her husband on 
American drug-distribution charges and raided his Cannabis Culture 
headquarters on West Hastings.

That day in July 2005, the DEA released a statement calling Emery's 
arrest "a significant blow ... to the marijuana legalization movement."

But by the time Emery finished serving 4 1/2 years in a Mississippi 
prison and returned to Vancouver last year, he found he had gained 
some unexpected allies.

One new advocate was former U.S. federal attorney John McKay, who 
successfully prosecuted Emery on the drug charge that landed him 
behind bars. In 2012, while Emery was still in jail, McKay appeared 
with Jodie at a pro-legalization event in Vancouver and called for an 
end to the criminal prohibition of marijuana, which he called "a 
complete failure."

McKay wasn't the only one to change his tune, Marc Emery said Sunday, 
as he named several former B.C. politicians and law-enforcement 
figures, including former Vancouver police drug-squad commander Kash 
Heed, ex-B.C. premier Mike Harcourt and former Vancouver mayor Philip Owen.

All of them, Emery said, "oppressed me or had me arrested at some 
point in time," but have since joined a pro-legalization coalition 
called Stop the Violence B.C.

"It's nice to have that biblical change happen where all my enemies 
now are forgiven and they are now advocating the right thing," Emery 
said. "My former oppressors, almost uniformly across the board, have 
now joined our camp. That's very satisfying because you know you're 
going to win."
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