HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Marc Emery Speaks From Jail
Pubdate: Mon, 23 Aug 2004
Source: Cannabis Culture
Copyright: 2004, Cannabis Culture, redistributed by MAP by permission
Author: Dana Larsen
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Imprisoned Pot Activist Discusses Prison Life and the Need to Change the Law.

On Thursday, August 19, Cannabis Culture publisher Marc Emery was sentenced 
to 92 days in jail in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Emery had been convicted of 
trafficking because a witness saw him pass a joint in March 2004.

Saskatoon Bust

In the spring of 2004, Marc Emery launched a college speaking tour, with 
over a dozen dates planned on campuses across Canada. One of the last stops 
on his tour was the University of Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon.

Saskatchewan is one of Canada's most anti-pot provinces, and Saskatoon is 
one of Canada's most pot unfriendly cities. Saskatoon was originally 
founded as a "temperance colony" and their prohibitionist mentality 
continues strongly to this day.

After his speech at the University of Saskatchewan, Emery showed up at a 
late evening gathering of about 40 college students, at the Vimy Memorial 
park, near his hotel.

Student Justin McGowan was there, and he described the scene in an 
interview with Cannabis Culture:

"About 20 minutes after Marc showed up, three or four cops arrived and said 
'We smell marijuana.' They asked if anybody had marijuana and Marc said he 
had some. They arrested him.

"One of the people there asked if they could take a picture of Marc being 
arrested, and a cop said no. I asked, 'Don't we have a constitutional right 
to photograph you?' and the cop responded, 'No, actually police have a 
constitutional right not to be photographed.'

"Then they asked me if I happened to have any marijuana on me, and yeah I 
was stupid, I had a pipe and some buds, so they arrested me, but they 
didn't take me into custody."

Although Emery had only 2.3 grams of pot in his possession, he was charged 
with trafficking, because one of the students had stated that Marc had 
passed him a joint.

Although Canada's drug laws are federal, the actual degree of enforcement 
and punishment varies greatly across the country. In Vancouver, it is 
unlikely that a charge of trafficking would ever be laid against someone 
for passing a joint, and it is even more unlikely that any jail time would 
be given upon conviction. But in Saskatoon lengthy jail sentences for 
marijuana offences are much more common.

After holding Emery for three nights, he was finally released on $3500 
bail, as well as some strict conditions. Emery's prosecutor had asked the 
judge to keep Emery in jail until trial, but the judge agreed to release 
Emery, providing he consented to having his home, car and person subject to 
searches at any time, and if Emery was found in possession of pot, he would 
have been returned to jail until his trial.

After finally being released from his 72 hour detention, Emery's ankles 
were bruised from the leg irons that he had been forced to wear. He had 
also lost weight because he is a vegetarian and refused to eat much of the 
food they had offered him.

"Saskatoon is in the grip of an evil tyranny by the government and policing 
forces of all Saskatchewan," wrote Emery on the Cannabis Culture forums 
atfer his release. "There are many victims here, I am merely the most known 
of many victims of vicious marijuana prohibition."

"It is a shame and disgrace that Saskatchewan is part of Canada," added 
Emery. "The police in this province are implicated in many police scandals 
involving death, framing accused persons, concocting evidence, in addition 
to extremely punitive sentencing."

Summer of Legalization

The last time Emery had been in Saskatchewan was during his 2003 "Summer of 
Legalization" tour. Court rulings in the Ontario Court of Appeal had 
declared that Canada's laws against pot possession were invalid, because 
the Canadian government had failed to properly allow access to medicinal 
marijuana for those in need. Emery promoted marijuana's legal status by 
smoking pot at rallies in front of 17 Canadian police stations.

Emery was arrested and charged in the cities of Edmonton, Calgary, 
Winnipeg, St John's, Moncton, and Regina. Yet all the charges were dropped 
as prosecutors and the courts conceded that marijuana possession was not an 
offence in Canada between July 2002 and October 2003.

Yet despite being exonerated for his actions, many police, prosecutors and 
judges were still upset with Emery's flagrant promotion of pot legalization.

So when Saskatoon police busted Marc in Vimy Park on March 22, 2004, those 
in the system who resented Emery's activism had their chance to finally 
punish him.

The Trial and Sentencing

"I didn't want to plead guilty," said Emery in a telephone interview with 
Cannabis Culture from the Saskatoon Correctional Centre where he is being 
held. "I told my lawyer 'I expect we'll be guilty,' meaning that I thought 
they would find me guilty. She misunderstood and put in a guilty plea on my 
behalf. However, I have no doubt I would have been convicted regardless, as 
the judge had it in for me."

In making their submissions on sentencing, Emery's lawyer was asking for 
"time served" and a fine. Emery had already spent three nights in jail, and 
normally each day in remand is counted towards two days of a jail sentence. 
So Emery had already served the equivalent of six days for passing the joint.

The prosection lawyer, Frank Impey, was asking for two years less a day. 
Although this sounds like an extreme sentence, this was likely intended as 
a conditional discharge. This would have meant that Emery would have served 
his sentence in the community. He would have not been jailed, but would 
have had conditions and restrictions placed upon his release.

However, Judge Albert Lavoie disregarded the advice of both lawyers and 
gave Emery a 92 day sentence, after saying how he was going to "make an 
example" of the relentless activist.

In a telephone interview with Pot-TV, Emery explained how Justice Lavoie 
lectured him before giving him the sentence.

"The judge was actually aware that I've given $200,000 to a drug addiction 
clinic, that I've adopted four children, that I haven't have any criminal 
conviction of any kind for six years," said Emery. "He knew that the 
convictions I did have are all for seeds, and that I have actually never 
been accused of selling or cultivating marijuana or been convicted of 
anything like that."

"But I got a long lecture from the guy saying that if people violated the 
laws in a democratic society that all of civilization would fail. I wanted 
to point out to him that this meant gay's shouldn't have been homosexual 
before those laws were changed, that women shouldn't have had abortions 
before the abortion laws were changed, and so on."

Emery thinks his sentence may have made judicial history. "Alan Young [one 
of Canada's top marijuana lawyers] says he's never even heard of anything 
in Canada as draconian as this before. In fact, he isn't sure if there's 
ever been a conviction of trafficking for passing one joint to another person."

Emery outlined the basics of prison life, including that he would soon be 
out doing work such as picking up garbage on the side of the road, "like 
Coolhand Luke." He added that he was not in peril, that people didn't have 
to worry about his physical safety. "I'm in a dorm with 15 other guys, and 
it's kind of an amusing thing with guys farting and snorting and snoring 
during the night. It's like being in a summer camp or something, except 
they never let you out."

The worst part was the "terrible food," which as a vegetarian Emery wasn't 
eating much of anyways. "I haven't seen anything containing Vitamin C 
today," he said, adding that the day's vegetable had been boiled cabbage. 
"But that's the worst of it," said Emery. "In the big picture it's not like 
I'm in extreme difficulty. I am not in high security, and candidly the 
guards here are surprised at the length of my stay under the circumstances."

Emery also explained that his 92 day sentence meant that he could be 
released after 62 days if he was of good behavior, making his tentative 
release date October 19.

Implications of the Sentence

Marc Emery encouraged all people to contact Canadian Minister of Justice, 
Irwin Cotler.

"You've got to tell him that even under the new bill this still could 
happen," said Emery. "I would still be serving this 92 day sentence even if 
that new bill had already been passed, because it doesn't address sharing 

"Remember, no police officer even saw me do this," added Emery. "It was a 
fan of mine, who was enticed and entrapped by police into admitting that he 
saw me pass one joint, to him! And that became the trafficking charge. Well 
every single member of our culture passes joints. So any one of us could be 
charged for trafficking if one of our friends says 'I saw him sharing a 
joint with that guy!' And all of a sudden you're looking at jail time for 

Emery called upon Canadian politicians to ensure that sharing of marijuana 
will be permitted under any new law.

"The new legislation will need to enshrine sharing. And I hope that NDP 
Leader Jack Layton wil point out, as he did during the campaign, that it is 
shocking that a Canadian can go to jail for passing a joint."

Emery encouraged people to write letters to the media, and to politicians. 
But he asked that the focus be on changing the law, not getting him out of 

"Your letters should not be calling for me to be released. The point should 
be that this could happen to anyone, and it does happen to people who don't 
have media connections and attention like I do. Every week someone in 
Canada goes away for a long time for small amounts of marijuana. The people 
in Vancouver and Toronto live in a privileged environment, and they need to 
take up arms. Let my incarceration galvanize you to action. We need to 
ensure that the new law allows people to possess, to grow for themselves, 
and to share with others without renumeration. Otherwise it will be flawed."

Courthouse Vigil

Starting on Tuesday, August 24, there will be an ongoing vigil for Marc 
Emery being held outside the courthouse where he was convicted.

Every day until Emery is released, there will be people there with a FREE 
MARC EMERY banner, handing out flyers explaining the situation and making 
people aware that Emery's case is just one of many injustices caused by 
Canada's war on marijuana.

Any activists or supporters who want to come to Saskatoon to join the vigil 
are welcome to do so. Suporters would be able to visit Emery on scheduled 
visiting days.

Despite the fact that Emery is in prison, the viability and security of his 
mail-order seed business is not threatened. Marc Emery was very confident 
that his employees would be able to fill orders and respond to customer 
queries as normal.

Media coverage of Emery's sentencing:

Local Saskatchewan newspapers:

The Canadian Press:

The Globe and Mail:

Marc Emery jailhouse phone interview with Pot-TV:

Marc Emery's Saskatoon arrest on March 22, 2004:

Comments from Marc Emery after March 22 bust and 3 nights in jail:

For a list of media contacts, Emery's mailing address, and what you can do, 
go here: 
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