On Saturday, September 11, Cannabis Culture sponsored a successful Saskatoon marijuana rally. Despite wind and rain, over 500 people came out to hear four awesome live bands and pro-pot speakers, including a live speech from the imprisoned Marc Emery!
“I think the attendance would have been higher if we had better weather,” said event organizer Dana Larsen. “Those that came braved rain and cold winds to stand outdoors and show their support. It was pretty chilly and wet.”
Larsen has also been coordinating an ongoing, daily vigil outside the provincial courthouse where Emery was sentenced. “Devoted local activists are there for at least five to six hours every day. We have a large banner, a few cannabis flags flying in the breeze, and an information table about Emery’s plight and the creation of the Saskatchewan Marijuana Party. We get lots of honks and thumbs-up from passing cars, and we’re signing up new people every day.”
The rally went off smoothly, with no legal problems despite the blatant use of cannabis.
“The police did not make any appearance at all, and marijuana was smoked openly and freely by many in attendance,” added Larsen. “We took our ‘Freedom Tent’ from the vigil to the rally. We had an info table inside, we signed up people for the Saskatchewan Marijuana Party, and we also smoked many joints inside the often crowded tent.”
Larsen said Saskatoon police get a “thumbs-up” for not trying to interfere with the rally. He added that “the only time the police did come was in response to our call about the theft of a purse. They were courteous and helpful and they didn’t do anything other than help respectfully.”
A spokesman for Saskatoon police denied that they had chosen not to make any arrests, instead claiming they just didn’t know about the rally. “Our officers weren’t aware of the activity taking place or they would have taken action,” said Inspector Jeff Bent, unable to explain how the drug squad had missed the quarter-page advertisement in The StarPhoenix the day before the rally, or the ads in Planet S weekly newspaper and on CFCR radio station. The event also received advance media coverage on CKOM radio and Global TV news.
Four live bands played at the event, with music ranging from lightearted jazz-rap to heavy speed metal. Cannabis Culture donated hundreds of magazines, plus t-shirts and other fun stuff, which were given out for free to the grateful crowd.
Despite being imprisoned, Marc Emery was able to make a speech at the event via an amplified cellphone. Emery spoke to the gathered crowd movingly about his experiences in jail and how he was honoured by the support at the vigil and the rally.
“Some might think it’s humiliating for me to be cleaning toilets for the man,” said Emery, after describing his job as a cleaner and maintenance man in the prison, “but I don’t think so. I have been reading the Bible here and I see that Jesus washed the feet of strangers, so there is no job demeaning if you do it with pride. The staff here say their work environment has improved because of the work I have done on their behalf.”
“I have been in this jail for 24 days,” continued Emery, “and God willing I will be released in 38 more. 62 days of my life stolen from me. And yet it goes on every day in courtrooms across Canada, lives are ruined and stolen because of alcohol-drinking lawyers, cops, judges and politicians.
“They despise our beautiful culture of tolerance, acceptance, unity, brotherhood and wonderment. They hate us for our goodness. We must shine light on their darkness, use truth to counter lies, and love to melt their hate.”
“No job will be harder that to liberate Saskatchewan from the the dark grip of backwardness, bigotry and the peverse urge to punish,” said Emery. “But we will liberate this province, and we will bring the whole country to the glory of a free nation once and for all, one nation under cannabis!”
Emery also thanked those who had been maintaining the vigil outside the courthouse. “I want to give thanks to the brave Saskatoon sensi warriors who are manning the vigil every day. Oh, you are brave and true souls and truly my brothers in arms, and when I am released I will thank each of you personally for your remarkable dedication and devotion. I have incredible gratitude that I was never abandoned, and it is a very touching and humbling thing to know that people have taken time from out of their lives to make me feel better about being in jail, and to reverse this horrible situation on this province. I am forever in your debt.
“I have seen the future,” concluded Emery to wild applause, “and man, it is beautiful. Nothing can stop me. No amount of evil put in our way can stop us. It is our destiny to be free in our lifetime, and if we want it we will get it. I look forward to walking hand in hand with you all on the amazing road ahead. We will be victorious!”
Along with protesting Saskatoon’s harsh legal atmosphere and celebrating the joys of cannabis, the rally was used as a springboard for the creation of the Saskatchewan Marijuana Party. Local activists began gathering the signatures and paperwork needed for its official formation, with the goal of having all the necessary forms filed before Emery’s release.
The activist efforts from the BC Marijuana Party team also includes a massive postcard campaign directed at federal Justice Minister Irwin Cotler. Many tens of thousands of “Free Marc Emery” postcards have been distributed to hemp stores and headshops across Canada, to be signed and mailed in by supporters. Within a month of Emery’s incarceration, over 50,000 postcards should have been signed and delivered to the Justice Minister, with more on the way.
NDP on pot
Canada’s federal NDP has also came out in support of Emery. Many pot activists who had supported NDP Leader Jack Layton in the last federal election were concerned when there were no immediate signs of support from the party after Emery’s jailing. But on September 13, NDP MP Libby Davies and Layton issued a joint statement condemning Emery’s sentence and calling for an end to pot prohibition.
Layton decried “the lack of rational and just laws governing marijuana,” while Davies added that “lives are ruined because of criminal convictions, and communities and local business are unfairly affected by police raids.”
“Many are likely not aware, but ‘sharing a joint’ is considered trafficking under our current federal laws,” continued Davies. “I had proposed an amendment when Parliament considered changes to the marijuana laws last fall which would have stricken this from the books, but the Liberal dominated committee voted it down.”
* Complete text of Libby Davies NDP press release: www.libbydavies.ca/mpupdate/safetyanddrugs.html
* Marc Emery’s prison diary: www.bcmarijuanaparty.com
* Free Marc Emery: www.freemarcemery.com
* Saskatchewan Marijuana Party: www.skmp.ca
* To help collect signatures for the Saskatchewan Marijuana Party, call Kerry Kunka at BOB HQ: 306-477-4262
* Write a protest letter to Justice Minister Irwin Cotler: 284 Wellington Street, Ottawa, ON, K1A 0H8; [email protected]
Media coverage of the rally:
* Jailed leader addresses pot rally
* Weekend rally ‘small victory’ activists say
* Watch the Saskatoon rally on Pot-TV:
* Discuss the vigil and future Saskatchewan events here: