Pubdate: Thu, 05 Oct 2017
Source: Tribune, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: John Law
Page: A3


Grow Up Expo features Jodie Emery as speaker at convention focussed on
impending legalization of marijuana next July

Jodie Emery laughs when reminded of her last visit to Niagara Falls
seven years ago.

It started with a trip to MP Rob Nicholson's office on St. Paul Avenue
for a protest. It ended waiting for two members of her group to be
released from the Niagara Regional Police station on Morrison Street
after they were arrested.

Emery and several pro-marijuana advocates were hoping to speak with
Nicholson, Canada's justice minister at the time, about the
extradition of her husband Marc, who was facing five years in a U.S.
federal prison for selling mail-order pot seeds across the border.

As one member of the group attempted to follow a police officer into
Nicholson's office, he was arrested. When the rest of the group
arrived and gathered in the parking lot, another arrest followed.

"It definitely escalated much faster than we hoped for or expected,"
recalls Emery, on the line from Toronto this week.

She says many Canadians were "shocked" at her husband's extradition,
as she made the rounds to different political offices raising awareness.

"I remember the headlines weren't really about pot or seeds, it was
about our sovereignty. And the idea a Canadian citizen could be
charged in a foreign country for a crime in a foreign country, even
though they never went there, it still shocks me."

Marc Emery served four-anda-half years in U.S. prison, during which
time his wife became a key public figure in the cannabis legalization

Much has changed as she returns to Niagara Falls this week for the
Grow Up Cannabis Conference & Expo at Scotiabank Convention Centre.
The two-day conference Friday and Saturday will feature more than 90
speakers and dozens of exhibitors, focussed on the impending
legalization of marijuana next July, allowing Canadians to grow up to
four cannabis plants per household.

Ontario's Liberal government will sell legalized marijuana in 80
LCBO-controlled stores. It will rise to 150 stores by 2020.

In addition to Emery the conference will feature CW HEMP founder Jesse
Stanley, Ample Organics president John Prentice and keynote speaker
Mandy McKnight, an advocate for access to medical marijuana after
watching the positive effects on her son, who suffers seizures as a
result of Dravet syndrome.

The landscape may have changed, but legalization is hardly the end of
the battle for Emery. She and her husband are still facing drug
trafficking, conspiracy and possession charges after police raided
their chain of Cannabis Culture locations across Canada earlier this

Even with legalization looming, the charges hang over the

"We've literally devoted our lives to legalization, and now the
legalization law will exclude us," she says. "And then we see all
these people who fought against it … all these premiers, politicians,
now they all run these marijuana companies.

"They're making millions and we're facing prison with big legal fees.
A lot of people say that's the price of activism, though. You wanted
to be the ones on the frontline, you're taking the bullets to make way
for everybody else. I accept that, for sure, but it'd be nice not to
be called a criminal and not have a criminal record."

It will be the Emerys' fight henceforth, dropping the legal baggage of
past offences associated with something that is finally legal. She
knows it won't be easy.

"There's no amnesty, no pardons, no apology. Everyone who's
criminalized will remain a criminal in the eyes of the law, unjustly.

"It's great to see it grow … we wanted to see the industry growing and
be bigger, that's part of our goal. But it's really unjust to continue
criminalizing people, especially those who suffered to make these
changes possible. I'm not saying Marc and I should be at the front of
the line, but it'd be really nice to get in the line."

Emery, 32, has been an editor at Cannabis Culture magazine since 2005.
She married Marc Emery - dubbed the 'Prince of Pot' - in 2006, and has
been a vocal pot proponent since. She ran as a candidate for the B.C.
Green party in a 2009 election (coming in third), and made an
unsuccessful bid in 2015 for the Liberal party nomination for
Vancouver East.

She can't see a day she isn't fighting for cannabis rights in some
form - "we've had decades of misinformation and fear" - but there are
plenty of other issues she intends to tackle.

One idea she's fond of: Working with children of incarcerated

"A lot of kids have parents in jail who aren't necessarily bad
people," she says. "But these people are growing up with a stigma and
a shame.

"When Marc was in a U.S. prison, what sticks out to me the most is the
kids I saw visiting their family members. I'd like to work on criminal
justice in the communities. Anyway, I can get to that once they stop
arresting people for pot, I guess."
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