Pubdate: Sun, 12 Mar 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Nick Eagland
Page: 3


Couple behind Cannabis Culture ordered to cut all ties with business
after arrests

The business empire built by Canada's "Prince and Princess of Pot" is
on the verge of collapse.

Marc and Jodie Emery have been ordered to cease operating their
Cannabis Culture dispensary business after they were arrested
Wednesday at Pearson Airport while on their way to catch a flight to
Barcelona, Jodie said Saturday in a phone call from Toronto.

Emery said that they were taken into custody by plainclothes officers
as they exited an Uber vehicle and were later strip-searched and detained.

She described their treatment by police as "disturbing and shocking"
and said they were only permitted to speak with lawyers hours after
the arrest.

"We've literally been stripped naked in the strip search and stripped
of everything we've built, everything we've worked so hard for all
these years," Emery said.

The following day, police in Toronto, Hamilton, Ont. and Vancouver
executed 11 search warrants, while three of the Emerys' associates in
Cannabis Culture were also arrested.

The five defendants were charged Thursday with a range of counts,
including drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

At a bail hearing Friday, the five defendants were represented by
Toronto lawyers Jack Lloyd and Dan Stein. All five were released on
bail that afternoon with conditions, Lloyd said when reached by phone
in Toronto. They are set to appear in court the morning of April 21,
he said.

Emery described the conditions handed to her and her husband as
"onerous." The Vancouver couple is now required to stay and live in
Ontario, though Jodie may visit her home city with court permission,
she said.

They have been banned from entering any Cannabis Culture location or
office, including the B.C. Marijuana Party and Cannabis Culture
magazine headquarters in Vancouver, and Emery can't speak with staff
or deal with business operations in any way, she said.

The couple have been given two weeks to remove themselves from any
bank accounts associated with the business.

"It's utterly heartbreaking, really," Emery said. "My entire adult
life has been 100-per-cent dedicated to Cannabis Culture and our
mission for legalization and cannabis for freedom."

The Emerys, longtime staples of B.C.'s pot advocacy scene, own the
Cannabis Culture brand. It has been used by a chain of marijuana
dispensaries in B.C., Ontario and Quebec that has expanded over the
last two years.

Although Canada's Liberal government has said it plans to introduce
legislation later this year to legalize non-medicinal marijuana sales
and use, pot dispensaries remain illegal under federal law.

Emery said that she believes they were targeted for their longtime
activism and civil disobedience, and believes Toronto police, who
co-ordinated last week's "Project Gator," may have been exacting
revenge after charges were dropped against employees arrested during
the "Project Claudia" raids in Toronto last May.

"I feel fair to say this is a political persecution and the police and
the government are looking at preventing us from being able to
exercise our right to be active and to run businesses," she said.

Emery said the couple will speak on Monday with lawyers, who have
advised them not to discuss specifics around charges and allegations
made against them.

She believes the case will "drag out" for years in court but, as it
unfolds, "the truth will come out" and people will "see that a lot of
the police propaganda is untrue," she said.

Rob Gordon, a professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University,
said that while hundreds of dispensaries have opened across Canadian
cities in recent years, the Toronto police probably chose to target
the Emerys because of their high profile and envelope-pushing strategies.

"One of their characteristics is always to cross the line in as
dramatic and public a manner as they can, because that's how they
advance their particular cause," Gordon said, adding police may have
wanted "to make an example out of them."

"They're thumbing their nose at government, the federal government in
particular," Gordon said.

"Quite clearly the message from government to those police forces is:
'enforce the law,'" he added.

The pot sold in retail dispensaries across the country probably comes
from a range of sources, said Gordon.

Possible sources include growers licensed for personal medicinal
production selling their surplus, or unlicensed grow-ops, whether run
by criminal organizations or small-scale farmers.

Gordon said he wouldn't be surprised if some pot makes its way north
from U.S. states such as Washington, where recreational use has been

Details of the supply chain for Cannabis Culture, as with every other
storefront dispensary in the country, remain unclear.

The source of their cannabis is illegal, even for dispensaries that
have received business licences from municipalities like Vancouver and

There are 39 producers across Canada licensed to produce cannabis, but
their only legal distribution channel is to sell through the mail to
patients registered with Health Canada.

- - With files from Dan Fumano
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