Cannabis Culture publisher Marc Emery suffered two more arrests during the Alberta portion of his Summer of Legalization cross-country tour. Emery was detained for only 15 minutes after his protest in Calgary, but police in Edmonton tried to get a judge to detain him for weeks!
Emery was in Calgary on Saturday, August 9, and was arrested for the fifth time after leading the crowd of about 50 in ‘Oh, Canada!‘ and then taking a few bong hits. “I had a gram in my pocket as usual,” wrote Emery in a posting to the Cannabis Culture forums, “to make sure they would follow through and charge me for posession.”
Emery was held for only 15 minutes, and described the police as “ultra polite.” He was released on his own recognizance and a court date was set for September 10.
During his speech to the Calgary crowd, Emery pointed out that, because of the recent court decisions, there have been fewer possession charges during the last three months than any other period in the last 35 years. Yet there has been no increase in any other offences, showing that cannabis use does not lead to other crime, and that the only thing continued prohibition would have accomplished is a large number of pointless arrests.
Edmonton police crackdown
Emery had expected an easier time at the Edmonton smoke-in the next day, Three weeks earlier, police there had told the media that they would not arrest Emery at his protest. “If he comes and smokes pot on our stairs and that’s the extent of it,” the police spokesperson told the media, “it’s quite likely we won’t have much of a response.”
Yet in fact the Edmonton police had one of the harshest responses on the tour so far. Emery was arrested and detained for about five hours, including 90 minutes with his hands cuffed behind his back.
“The Edmonton Police copped a bit of an attiude,” said Emery. “The arresting officer asked me twice if they were ‘polite enough’ for me, a reference to my remark in these threads that Calgary Police were ‘ultra polite.'”
Emery represented himself before a Justice of the Peace (JP) at his bail hearing, with a police officer representing the Crown. “My hands were cuffed behind my back during the hearing,” explained Emery. “The police officer (the ‘Crown’) wanted the JP to deny bail! The police officer pointed out my lengthy criminal record for cannabis offenses, and my one ‘Assaulting a Police Officer’ charge, which was for spitting on a police officer when they were beating on David Malmo-Levine during the second raid on Hemp BC.”
Photocopies of Emery’s postings on the Cannabis Culture website forums were also introduced as evidence. “The Crown claimed since I was a repeat offender determined to reoffend, that I should be held in jail until trial date!”
Yet the Justice of the Peace didn’t buy into the whole argument. “The JP remarked that he was aware of the political implications of the Tour,” wrote Emery, “and he mentioned the court decisions in other provinces that cast doubt on section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs & Substances Act. So I was granted bail.”
However, the Edmonton police weren’t done with their attempts to shut down Emery’s tour. “The Crown wanted conditions attached to my release,” added Emery. “The police/Crown wanted me to be prohibited from possessing or smoking any non-prescription substances, including ‘narcotics.’ They wanted me to be prohibited from being on any police property in Canada unless it was an emergency, and they wanted me prohibited from continuing the Summer of Legalization Tour.”
However, once again the Justice of the Peace backed Emery’s freedom to protest. “The JP said that because under a gram was involved, and that there were political implications to my tour and the use of small amounts of cannabis, he denied that condition. The JP did say I could not go on any police property. So after some tense moments when I thought it might go badly, I was released.”
The tour continues
Emery is racking up an increasing number of future court dates, where he will be arguing that, because of the Ontario court decisions, cannabis possession are “not an offence known to law” anywhere in Canada.
“I get half a day to present a Constitutional Challenge to the Crown’s assertion that the cannabis law is still valid in Alberta, on December 19,” explained Emery. “Then Tuesday morning (August 12) I appear in a Regina court room to get a date for my Charter motion here. I am pleading not guilty by reason of Charter rulings suspending the force & effect of 4(1) of the CDSA. Since I am defending myself in the six places I have been charged, I will offer up the same presentation each time.”
Emery’s next tour date is Prince George, BC, on Thursday, August 14. “Prince George is the most severe jurisdiction for cannabis in British Columbia,” explained Emery, “but that is why I chose it instead of Victoria or Vancouver.”