Ten years ago, Marc Emery was a slender, bespectacled young lad from Ontario who arrived in Vancouver with no money, but almost two decades of business experience and a busload of dreams.
Always a rebel idealist, never satisfied with the status quo, Emery inserted himself into a fledgling West Coast counterculture movement that consisted of hippies, surfers, white Rastas, American expatriates, and weedheads.
When Emery held a tenth anniversary party this week to celebrate what happened since then, guests from North American and Europe recalled the exploits of a man now known as the Prince of Pot.
Emery is generally credited with creating the retail potseed business in North America, but his contributions to the cannabis culture are bigger than that. He also founded a magazine that became an alternative to High Times, called Cannabis Canada. In the early days, Cannabis Canada was often printed on hemp stock and featured psychedelic art on its covers.
Cannabis Canada soon became Cannabis Culture, increasing in size and influence so that it is now available everywhere across North America, despite many instances of anti-pot censorship and bias from magazine retailers and distributors.
Emery is also credited with helping turn an entire city block in downtown Vancouver into a weed-friendly mini-Amsterdam. He founded grow shops, cannabis cafes, smoke shops, seed shops and other marijuana businesses on the 300 block of West Hastings. Today, Emery’s British Columbia Marijuana Party (BCMP) Bookstore is the flagship of a burgeoning potscene that includes Pot-TV, Blunt Brothers, the New Amsterdam, Cabbages & Kinx, a variety of retail seed merchants, and other more secretive pot-friendly establishments.
According to Blunt Brothers representative Scott Hearty, who has worked for Emery at the BCMP, Blunt Brothers recently hosted Morgan Freeman, Kevin Spacey, LL Cool J, and Justin Timberlake, along with other stars from the music and film industries.
The trendy club is prepping a VIP lounge that will host the jet set glitterati who make movies or do concerts in Vancouver. Emery is hoping to acquire even more space on the block to create another cafe along with a museum about psychedelic substances curated by Pot-TV station manager, cannavangelist and author Chris Bennett.
During a gala dinner party attended by Emery employees past and present, guests enjoyed several pounds of Mikado, California Orange, and Island Sweet Skunk weed, while luminaries like pot lawyer John Conroy, American author and activist Dick Cowan, Pot-TV Station Manager and author Chris Bennett, marijuana grow guru and video wizard Marijuana Man, blonde babe Michy Denmother, and David Malmo Levine thanked Emery for going to jail, doing media interviews, traveling constantly to speaking engagements, and giving away hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund marijuana legalization activities across the world.
“There’s a lot of people selling seeds, a lot of people selling marijuana,” said one guest. “But Emery is the only person selling seeds who takes all the money he makes and gives it back to the cause. That makes him number one for me.”
Clearly moved by the tributes and the smoky atmosphere, Emery gave a speech thanking everyone who has risked arrest and other persecution to work for the cause of weed.
He also recalled a mysterious woman who told him she had had a vision about him when he was just a wee tyke, barely 20 years old. Her vision involved a leaf that looked “kind of like a maple leaf, but with different edges and markings on it.”
In 2004, with Emery’s worldwide seed sales totaling in the millions, he can rightfully take credit for the prevalence of that non-Maple leaf growing in many countries.
At the end of the party, Emery invited friends to meet to celebrate a second decade of activism in 2014, when weed will be legal, and Vancouver’s name will have been officially changed to “Vansterdam.”
– Marc Emery Marijuana Seeds: www.emeryseeds.com
– The history of Marc Emery Marijuana Seeds: www.emeryseeds.com/marc
– Comprehensive 1999 interview with Marc Emery: www.cannabisculture.com/articles/1423.html
– Comprehensive 2002 interview with Marc Emery: www.cannabisculture.com/articles/2644.html
– Marc Emery 2003 “Summer of Legalization” Tour: www.cannabisculture.com/news/tour
– Marc Emery collected media clippings: www.mapinc.org/people/marc emery