Pubdate: Tue, 21 Mar 2017
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Dan Fumano
Page: A3


Canada's "Princess of Pot" flew home to Vancouver Monday to cut ties
with the cannabis empire she and her husband spent decades growing.

Jodie Emery returned to her Chinatown apartment for the first time
since being released from custody earlier this month in Toronto, where
she, her husband Marc Emery, and three other associates in the
Cannabis Culture business were arrested and charged with a range of
offences including drug trafficking.

"I am so grateful to be back where the nature and the forest and the
mountains can soothe my soul, after that concrete jungle," she said
Monday in her first interview since returning to Vancouver.

After two nights in custody, the Emerys were released on bail subject
to conditions including a prohibition on "any business dealings with
Cannabis Culture locations." Emery has until Friday, she said, to
remove herself from Cannabis Culture, a brand her husband started in
the 1990s and she has helped develop since 2004.

"To be stripped of everything I have and everything I've done is
degrading and upsetting," she said, adding the end of her recent foray
into running a franchise business means she can return to being "a
broke activist" once again.

"I will fight this, I will not stop being an activist. You know, I was
too busy with work to be an activist, and now, well, take away the
business, and you've made a monster out of me," she said with a laugh.

"There are many other people supplying cannabis in much larger
amounts. But for us, everybody knows, it's a very political
persecution," she said. "I'm more fired up than ever."

Emery's tidy, modest one-bedroom rental apartment is unremarkable,
except perhaps for the seven-page document fixed to the fridge door
with masking tape, titled "Warrant to search pursuant to Section 11 of
the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act". When she learned police were
raiding her apartment earlier this month, looking through her bedside
table and digging up her potted orchids, Emery said her first thought
was about her "scaredy cat" 14-year-old grey tabby, Max.

Emery will spend this week removing her name from bank accounts,
ending her directorship of the company, and planning for the handover
of Cannabis Culture's day-today operation to longtime employees, she
said. She has been a director of Cannabis Culture since Marc removed
himself from the company in advance of his 2010 extradition to the
U.S. to serve a four-year jail sentence in connection with his
mail-order cannabis seed business.

Cannabis Culture, probably one of the world's best-known weed brands,
has grown from a head shop and magazine, to encompass a political
party office, a vapour lounge, and, only in the last year, storefront
cannabis dispensaries.

Cannabis Culture's expansion into retail pot sales began with the
opening last April of a Vancouver store, followed a month later by a
Toronto location. The dates of the Emery's alleged trafficking
offences began the day the Toronto dispensary opened, last May 27,
court documents show. In the last 11 months, more than a dozen
Cannabis Culture dispensary franchises opened in B.C., Ontario, and

Storefront marijuana sales remain illegal, despite the proliferation
of dispensaries across Canada over the last two years, and some
municipalities, led by Vancouver, moving to license them. Marijuana
use is illegal under federal law in Canada, except for Health
Canada-registered patients ordering by mail from the country's 40
licensed producers.

And now, for the first time ever, the Emerys expect to soon be
authorized medical marijuana patients.

Another condition of their release is not to consume unlawful
substances, including cannabis, except "with a valid prescription."
Emery said she had a doctor's visit last week, via Skype, to obtain a
prescription for medical marijuana for anxiety. She hopes to have her
medical card this week, and to place an order next week. In the
meantime, she has tried to keep relaxed with an occasional glass of
red wine.

While the Emerys await their next court appearance in Toronto -
scheduled for April 21, coincidentally a day after the international
4/20 cannabis celebrations - neither is allowed to leave Canada. Marc
must remain in Ontario, and Jodie is allowed to leave Ontario only for
scheduled, police-approved visits to B.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt