Pubdate: Fri, 10 Mar 2017
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Ian Mulgrew
Page: A5


Persecution of pot providers makes no sense with legalization
supposedly on its way

It is always darkest before the dawn - and those who have waited
nearly a century for the light of cannabis legalization may find
solace in the proverb.

With the federal government set to abolish the criminal prohibition on
recreational use of marijuana, Toronto police have thrown pot royalty
in jail.

They called it Project Gator - a cross-country operation to put the
bite on the most celebrated ganja couple since Cheech and Chong.

Marc and Jodie Emery, a.k.a. the Prince and Princess of Pot, were
arrested Wednesday night on trafficking charges as they emerged from
an Uber car at Toronto's Pearson International Airport en route to the
Barcelona Spannabis festival.

The Emerys remain in custody pending a bail hearing

Cannabis activists Chris and Erin Goodwin, and Britney Guerra were
also arrested, Emery's Vancouver lawyer Kirk Tousaw said.

"Shameful," he added. "History will judge us poorly for this immoral
and unjust war on peaceful people and a simple, beneficial plant.
These are good people."

After they came to power in October of 2015, I expected the Liberals
to make a hash of their legalization election promise; the Toronto
police are proving the point.

How can any police department on the eve of legalization be criminally
charging people, especially over conduct for which the City of
Vancouver issues business licences?

The Constitution is supposed to have guarantees against the unequal
and capricious application of the law.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says until the prohibition is
officially ended, "the current law remains the law," even if cities
like Vancouver flout it.

On Thursday, search warrants were executed in Toronto, Hamilton and
Vancouver targeting dispensaries and Emery's Cannabis Culture

"Co-ordinated countrywide raids attempting, futilely, to enforce an
outdated and harmful law degrades public confidence in the
administration of justice, wastes valuable taxpayer funds, wastes
scarce police, prosecutorial and judicial resources and benefits
precisely no one," Tousaw said, fuming.

For more than a quarter century, Emery has been in the vanguard of the
North American free-the-weed movement.

Jodie joined him in his crusade after the turn of the century and they
were married on July 23, 2006, in a smoke-filled celebration I attended.

In 2014, Marc was released from U.S. custody after serving more than
four years in prison because of his catalogue seed-selling business.

I can understand why hick cops would want to bust Emery - it generates
big headlines even if it looks like ridiculous grandstanding.

What makes Emery's stores more offensive than the scores of others
that pockmark the land?

"This latest salvo in Canada's senseless war on cannabis and cannabis
consumers is a moral outrage and has no place in a free and democratic
society," Tousaw said.

"The Canadian public has supported legalization for many years. Our
government has finally got around to moving, slowly, toward ending
prohibition after at least 45 years of studies, royal commissions,
government reports and other evidence that legalization is the only
rational, compassionate and sensible policy option. And, yet, good
people continue to be arrested, locked into cages and have their
liberty infringed in the pursuit of our immoral and senseless war.
Make no mistake, this is not about public safety."

Although American states blazed the trail to legalization in 2012, the
Liberals still haven't introduced the legislation they vowed to pass.

Maybe we shouldn't be surprised given former Toronto top cop Bill
Blair, the parliamentary secretary on the pot issue, sounded like a
character from Reefer Madness - more Unreconstructed Drug Warrior than
pioneer of legalization.

Ottawa's foot-dragging has created a situation where illegal pot is
sold like lattes, putting retailers and thousands of otherwise
law-abiding Canadian consumers at risk of prosecution, prison and a
life-altering record. Instead of all but encouraging these feckless
prosecutions that tarnish the administration of justice, why haven't
the Liberals just got on with legalization?

"We made a commitment last April that we would introduce legislation
in the spring of 2017," federal Health Minister Jane Philpott told
reporters on Thursday.

"I know spring is around the corner and spring runs until June 21, and
we are firm in our commitment to having that legislation in place."
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