Pubdate: Fri, 10 Mar 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Peter Cameron
Page: A2


TORONTO - Prominent marijuana activists Marc and Jodie Emery were
charged with multiple drug-related offences in Toronto on Thursday
after police in several cities raided pot dispensaries associated with
the couple.

The self-styled "Prince" and "Princess of Pot" were arrested at
Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Wednesday evening. They
appeared briefly in a courtroom on Thursday afternoon before police
announced the full list of charges they faced.

Marc Emery faces 15 counts, including conspiracy to commit an
indictable offence, trafficking, possession for the purpose of
trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie Emery is
charged with five similar counts.

The couple's Toronto lawyer said his clients were expected to appear
in court again today.

"My clients were uncertain of what they'd been arrested for," Jack
Lloyd said outside court on Thursday. "They're in good spirits … but
they're in custody, hopeful that we can have a productive bail hearing

In Vancouver, another lawyer for the couple said they plan to fight
the charges.

"We've been fighting this battle an awfully long time. And we're going
to fight it right to the end. And I expect we're going to be
victorious," said Kirk Tousaw.

Jodie Emery mouthed the words "I love you" to her husband during the
couple's brief court appearance and flashed a peace sign to supporters
in the room before being admonished by the justice of the peace.

The Emerys own the Cannabis Culture brand, which is used by a chain of
19 marijuana dispensaries in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said seven Cannabis Culture
locations - five in Toronto, one in Hamilton and another in Vancouver
- - were searched on Thursday along with two homes in Toronto, one in
Stoney Creek, Ont., and one in Vancouver.

"Our history of enforcing the law against illegal cannabis
dispensaries is well established," Pugash said. "This is the latest
effort in our law enforcement, and I'm certain there will be further

In addition to the Emerys, police charged three other people on
Thursday. Thirty-seven-year-old Chris Goodwin and 31-year-old Erin
Goodwin, both of Toronto, and 29-year-old Britney Guerra of Stoney
Creek face charges that include conspiracy to commit an indictable

The federal government is moving to legalize marijuana, but Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized late last year that the current
laws exist.

The fact that the law still exists doesn't mean police and Crown
prosecutors must enforce it, Tousaw said. "A lot of horrific things
used to be legal. It's not a good excuse to deprive people of liberty
that the law is the law. That simply does not work in a society that
values justice over authoritarianism," he said.

The federal justice minister could "declare a ceasefire in the war on
drugs" while legalization is brought in, he added.

Police forces across the country have been raiding pot shops in recent
months and charging owners with trafficking-related offences.

A group of protesters gathered outside Cannabis Culture headquarters
in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon, decrying the latest raids and the
Emerys' arrest. Some smoked marijuana as they sat on the sidewalk in
front of police officers who blocked the shop's entrance.

"This is a move to attack Jodie and Marc Emery," said Danny Kresnyak,
editor of Cannabis Culture magazine.

"It has nothing to do with protecting the children or keeping it out
of the hands of organized crime or anything else that they're saying
in their statements."

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said Thursday that the federal
government remains committed to introducing legislation on the matter
in the spring but noted that it would have to go through a rigorous
parliamentary and regulatory process.

"It's a firm commitment of our government to legalize access to
cannabis, to regulate that access and to restrict it appropriately,"
she said. "We want to make sure this is done properly and people need
to recognize it will take some time but it will be done."

But B.C.'s public safety minister, Mike Morris, said he is concerned
about public confusion surrounding marijuana. "The sooner the feds
come out with the legislation, the sooner we can get on with
determining what direction we need to go," he said.

Marc Emery was previously arrested at one of his new Montreal
dispensaries in December and charged with drug trafficking.
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