Pubdate: Mon, 13 Mar 2017
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 The Globe and Mail Company
Page: A10


The arrest in Toronto on Wednesday of Marc Emery, one of North
America's leading pot legalization advocates, may seem draconian to
his many supporters. But the law is the law, and those who are alleged
to flout it risk arrest, regardless of their reasons for doing so.

No one knows this better than Mr. Emery. A diehard libertarian, he
once spent four days in jail for violating Ontario's Sunday shopping
laws. More famously, in 2005, he was arrested and eventually
extradited to the United States, where he was sentenced to five years
in prison for selling marijuana seeds to American customers.

Now he and his wife, Jodie, face numerous new charges, including
trafficking, after their arrest as part of a crackdown by Toronto
police on illegal pot sales in pop-up stores that bill themselves as

The charges relate to five dispensaries in Toronto operating under the
Cannabis Culture brand, which is co-owned by the Emerys. There are
also Cannabis Culture dispensaries in Ottawa, Hamilton, Peterborough,
Ont., Vancouver and Montreal. Montreal police raided eight outlets in
December and Mr. Emery faces trafficking charges in that city, too.

This latest arrest of the man known as the Prince of Pot brings into
sharp focus the slightly surreal situation in which pot retailers and
the police now find themselves. It all goes back to Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau's campaign promise to legalize marijuana for
recreational use. (It is already legal for medicinal purposes.)

Mr. Trudeau promised to table legislation this spring, but some people
opportunistically seized on his election in 2015 to immediately
exploit a grey zone between the current laws and whatever the Liberals
eventually propose. Storefronts have been popping up all over the
country, selling pot to anyone, with or without a medical
prescription. It's chaos. But that's the fault of those ignoring the
law as it is, and instead operating according to what they think the
law should be.

Just because the Prime Minister has accepted the view that, with
proper regulation and oversight, pot can be legalized for recreational
users, and just because his government is studying how to change the
law, does not mean it is suddenly legal to sell pot anywhere, to
anyone. It isn't. Nor will it be, once the law is changed.

As the law now stands, many dispensary owners across the country are
engaging in what appears to be an illegal activity. And the rule of
law is far more important than anyone's right to cash in on an
impending reform.

Marijuana is humanely available in Canada as a medicine to those who
need it, but everyone else has to wait. Those who do not must be
prepared to accept the consequences of their actions.
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