Marijuana seed guru Marc Emery was released from a Saskatchewan prison Thursday afternoon after three days in jail.
The internationally-famous cannabis activist was released on $3500 bail; he was arrested and charged with trafficking marijuana late Monday night because he passed a joint to a college student after making a speech at the University of Saskatchewan, located in Saskatoon.
“This is a very backwards place; it’s like Canada’s version of Alabama,” Emery said by phone within minutes of his release. “I mean, c’mon, I had 2.3 grams of pot and I passed a joint, and they call that trafficking?!”
Emery’s arrest came during a cross-Canada speaking tour that saw him greeted enthusiastically at colleges throughout the country. Last year, Emery was arrested in several cities during a “smoke-out” tour; he was deliberately trying to get arrested because he wanted to prove that marijuana was legal in Canada due to a series of court rulings and legal loophiles. Emery recalls being taken to court in shackles as one of the harshest experiences from the smoke-out tour, and said prosecutors in several locales tried to keep him in jail as long as possible. After the smoke-out tour was over, Emery was vindicated when all charges were dropped due to legal loopholes that made marijuana possession legal for parts of 2001 through 2003.
During hearings after this week’s arrest, Emery’s prosecutor sought extremely high bail amounts, and asked the judge to keep Emery in jail for two months until trial.
“He also had downloaded and printed my seed catalog from the Net,” Emery reported, “and he was trying to get the judge to make very stringent bail conditions, such as preventing me from selling seeds and from being in any place where marijuana is likely to be used. And if I don’t agree to the conditions, which included not being able to have any marijuana on my person or in my car or home, then they are not going to let me out of jail. The judge didn’t go for the seed selling ban; if he had I would have refused to accept the conditions of bail and I would still be in jail. And, we pointed out that my headquarters is the BCMP bookstore, which is a political party office, and it’s likely there will be pot there, so he didn’t ban me from my own office. But I do have to abide by the pot ban, and I have to submit to warrantless searches, so it’s bad enough. These people are so punitive.”
The prosecution’s harsh approach toward Emery might derive from the Vancouver-based entrepreneur’s long history of defying domestic and international cannabis laws. He’s been arrested 20 times, raided five times, and jailed previously, although this week’s incarceration is the longest he has ever suffered due to a marijuana offense.
Undaunted, Emery says he’s going to reschedule missed dates on his college speaking tour.
“I’ll make sure to come back here a lot, and not just for the trial,” the defiant seedmeister said. “This makes me have even more determination to speak out for marijuana freedom. It doesn’t scare me. It makes me have more energy and more to say during my speeches.”
Emery’s life partner Cheryl noted that Emery had lost weight during his ordeal.
“This was one of the harshest prisons I’ve ever seen,” Emery says, “but I was treated well by the guards and by my fellow prisoners. I also knew that Cheryl was out there fighting for me, and that lots of pot people and media were making sure I was treated well and that this story got out. My lawyer did a great job too. But it wasn’t all fun and games: I’m a vegetarian, and they had no healthy food, so I couldn’t eat anything for the whole time. And when they charged me with trafficking I thought, oh-oh, that’s pretty serious, they’d like to give me many months in jail. It’s a totally political hit. They singled me out because of who I am. Well, it won’t stop me. As the prosecutor noted, ‘Mr. Emery is likely to be a repeat offender.’ That’s the only thing he said I really agreed with!”