Next month, on May 28, Canada’s ‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery faces an extradition hearing and a possible life sentence. His crime? Selling cannabis seeds. The American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has dubbed him a ‘drug trafficking kingpin,’ but Emery says he’s just an activist devoted ending American hegemony and dominator ideology.
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Since he became a hardcore advocate for marijuana and civil liberties in 1990, he’s been arrested 22 times, jailed 17 times in eight of 10 provinces, raided six times and had a million dollars worth of his assets taken. All those tumbles with the law have made him a fearless crusader. He says he’s glad the DEA has finally picked on someone its own size. But if it were up to him, marijuana would be legalized because putting things in our mouths and breathing in air is a universal right. Not only that, but it makes him a better lover. He says we can’t have change without a crisis, and he’s ready for battle. Here is his story and some fighting words. Warning: This story contains some coarse language and mature subject matter.
I was a late bloomer; I only started smoking pot when I was 22 years old. It was December 21, 1980. It was great because I?d just fallen in love with this woman. Right before I was about to go down on her, I wasn?t really sure of myself and I wanted to bluff it a little bit, so at the last minute, I looked up at her and she had this joint in her mouth. I don?t know where it came from, but she was licking it and said, ?Before you do that, let?s smoke this.? Next thing you know, it was like gliding over the wings of manta rays. It was like a wonderful Disneyland down there, and all of a sudden I realized, ?Wow, I am really high.? Since then I?ve learned a lot about marijuana. One of the things it?s taught me is that it?s all about the journey; it?s not about the goal.
I?ve been an advocate willing to go to jail, and that?s very important. You can write letters and such, but when you?re starting to put your life and your freedom on the line, that?s when you can say you really became an activist. I first dared the police to jail me for cannabis in 1990, when Canada actually passed a law banning all videos and literature about marijuana, pulling High Times Magazine and the like. It was bizarre that they thought they could get away with it. I?ve been jailed for dozens of offences – nothing unsavory, all for civil liberty offences. I?ve been convicted of trying to overturn the obscenity laws and sent to jail for Sunday shopping violations. I?ve been a really hardcore activist for 17 years now.
Right now I?m doing the same thing I?ve always done?except selling seeds. We publish Cannabis Culture Magazine, have an Internet broadcasting company called Pot.tv, have the Vapor Lounge upstairs and have the BC Marijuana Party, where we?ve run over 120 candidates in the last two elections. I ran for mayor as a Marijuana Party candidate, and I?ve run for office 10 times since 1980.
Typically what we?ve always done is raise lots of money and use it for peaceful democratic movements around the world, especially in the United States and Canada. We?re basically subverting the U.S. drug war, infiltrating the democratic system and trying to chase the evildoers away – the evildoers being the U.S. federal government, the drug war and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).
One of our chief fundraising methodologies is selling these cannabis seeds around the world, raising millions of dollars and then giving it away to all these various groups. I?ve helped finance ballot initiatives in Washington D.C., Arizona, Nevada, Alaska and other places. We?ve financed class action suits in Philadelphia and New York City. We?ve paid for marijuana marches all around the world and published posters in seven languages. Most recently, after the DEA bust, we sponsored a peace conference in Jerusalem at the Hebrew University. We?re still as vibrant an organization as we ever have been.
According to the DEA, I?m the world?s largest marijuana producer. I have a hearing on May 28, which will determine if I get extradited to the United States, and I feel great going in, even though my lawyer says I?m doomed. He says the Canadian government signed these awful treaties whereby any Canadian can be apprehended by American law enforcement, even for things that happened in Canada.
If one person in Canada sells a gram bag of marijuana to an American across the border, they theoretically become part of a conspiracy to export drugs.
Even when the DEA tried to buy marijuana from me, I repeatedly told them no. It was the funniest thing ? they tried to buy 10 lbs of weed off me on three occasions. One time on a cell phone, I told them ?Don?t do it; you?re going to get caught; you?re being ridiculous.? The second time I said, ?I don?t even know if I want to talk to you because you?re behaving so foolishly. It just doesn?t even make sense that you, a stranger to the business, would want to take that much over the border.? Unfortunately, the DEA was humiliated and failed to get me to sell them some weed because they were so suspicious and weird when they approached me.
The United States has always hated and targeted me. I heckled Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy John Walters when he came here November 2002 to speak to the Board of Trade about why we should stop our marijuana legalization ways and the safe injection site for heroin users. We called him an assh*le and a liar and all that, and of course he self-destructed and went into a conniption fit. He screamed and yelled and said if we legalized pot, there?d be hell to pay. Three days later, the Vancouver Police Department launched an investigation against me, which eight months later, in August 2002, was sent to the District Attorney. Of course he declined to prosecute. The police, in their frustration, handed the file over to the DEA in October 2003, and by May 2005, they?d sworn an indictment against me in Seattle.
Ironically, Seattle is a place where people have voted to keep marijuana the lowest possible priority ? like lower than jaywalking.
So all of a sudden, I?m facing possible life in prison. I?m 50 years old, so anything over 15 years is a death penalty to me. The United States is so bizarrely aggressive and dominating in its philosophy and ideology that they?ll probably sentence me to like 150 years. The United States court system thinks they own you for the next three or four reincarnations. If I come back as a frog, I?ll still have to spend my frog years in U.S. prison. After that, if I come back as a prince, I?ll have to spend my prince time in U.S. prison. All for selling seeds in the mail.
Supposedly I?m the number one drug trafficking kingpin in all of North America and among the top 50 organized crime gangs in the whole world. Everyone in my hometown of London, Ontario thinks it?s the most hilarious thing they ever heard: ?Marc? The guy who ran the bookstore for 17 years?? When the DEA raided my property, they didn?t even find any drugs. Drug trafficking kingpin with no drugs? Doesn?t that seem odd? And they found no money and no guns. I had $12 in my bank account and I must be the first drug trafficking kingpin ever without any guns. They found no gang, no drugs, no guns, no money, no nothing. I?m the most un-drug drug kingpin in the history of drug kingpins. If Americans hear about this, they?ll all move to Canada.
The thing is there?s no victim here. It?s not like anybody has ever complained. I dealt with a quarter of a million people, maybe half of those American.
I never met a single person who said, ?Marc, I?m not down with you giving away these millions of dollars.? Politicians came to my conferences, came to my home and shook my hand and even appeared on the same podium as me. Nobody ever thought I was a drug dealer.
It?s all about the U.S. federal government?s crazy “War On Drugs” and the dominator ideology punishing people who don?t live like some anal retentive republican. They?re trying to send a message out to people that you cannot fight against the U.S. federal government and survive. Everybody?s happy with their seeds and marijuana, except the U.S. federal government, and they can go f*ck themselves.
Candidly, it doesn?t even matter to me if I go to jail. People will be so angry and upset that the amount of protest against the government during the time I?m in jail will be so substantial, that it has to be worthwhile. It would be so clearly unjust. We?ve got to keep vigilant. People don?t realize that to keep the evildoers at bay requires a lot of blood, sweat, toil and tears. Therefore, people have to write their congressman, they have to run for political office, they have to go to rallies, and give money to Democratic Party candidates like Dennis Kucinich to run for president or republican Ron Paul. These guys are against the drug war, against the Iraq War and against the dominator mentality that permeates, not only the government, but a lot of Americans too.
Americans have to surrender and realize that they have just f*cked everything up for everybody for too g*d damn long.
They gotta get a grip on themselves and start being a lot more humble, modest and a lot more out of the f*cking business of everybody else on the planet, including Canadians.
There is no avenue of defense for me. You can say it?s selective political prosecution, you can say I?m a Canadian who never went to America. All these things are legitimate arguments between normal people. But let?s face it: there?s a top and there?s a bottom in sexual relationships and there?s a top and a bottom in political relationships, and Canada is obviously on the bottom. So when Americans tell Canadians to do something, we have to do it because 85 per cent of our commerce goes to the Americans.
George Bush has routinely threatened to tighten up the borders and stop the flow of commerce and create problems for Canada in the same way that they boss everyone else in the world around: badly and with negative results. These people are just violent and abusive, and that?s the American methodology. It used to be they sent diplomats to negotiate; now they just send armed heavyweights to kick some ass and burn the place down. It?s the American tradition now, and that?s why they?re uniformly hated everywhere.
However, some places in the United States surprise you. Wherever you have a university, you have a more progressive environment. For example, they passed progressive initiatives in Montana and Arkansas; they passed municipal by-laws in California and Massachusetts to legalize pot. It?s surprising how progressive some states are, and equally surprising how some states are incredibly backwards, passing very hard drug laws against all bongs and pipes, even if you say they?re for tobacco. Pipes are now illegal in Michigan, and you have to wonder how Michigan got so backwards.
It?s that they?re surrounded by those places that are a strange mix of Puritanism and left wing urban ideology.
We spend a lot of time getting involved in the American democratic process. We supported a lot of candidates in the last election; we sent thousands of students all over America to get involved. We give our recommendations on campus and online and everywhere we can. We saw a lot of the really bad people in congress defeated, and 38 really rotten republicans went down. There are excellent signs on the horizon that Americans are starting to wake up from this horrible, horrible nightmare they voted themselves into.
I?m always surprised that there are so few protests against this horrible, pointless war in Iraq. It?s a dirty, stinking war, and even now, the timetable for getting out of this pointless war is a year and a half away. In that time, another 1,500 Americans will get killed. What an awful thing to know. Nothing good can come out of it; it?s just going to just blow up into an incendiary firebomb of hate no matter when they leave. So why not just stay longer and make sure more Americans are lost and the problem is dragged out and made worse. Even now, Americans are shockingly reticent to protest this awful war they?ve created, which has caused so much misery around the world. They feel no guilt or responsibility for it and they?re dragging it out in congress. Yankee go the f*ck home!
Pot consumption should be legalized because it is not a criminal act. Criminal means a threat to persons or property. There?s no reason you should have anything that people put in their mouths made criminal.
There are only three things that all people on the planet do: Breathe, excrete and put stuff in their mouths. There is no other commonality on the planet besides those three things, and when you criminalize people who put things in their mouths, you?ve just criminalized hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The most important aspect of our survival and the most fundamental aspect of our curiosity is putting things in our mouths. We?ve been doing it for millions of years, it?s in our DNA and the government wants to throw us in jail for it.
And it doesn?t matter if it?s for medicinal or recreational purposes either. All marijuana use is therapeutic, in the same way that Vitamin C is therapeutic. We never say we?re eating this orange for ?medicinal? reasons, but if you don?t have Vitamin C, you?ll die. For me, I?m more creative, more thoughtful; I can be a better business person, a better parent, a better lover and lots of different things when I have cannabis. So, it has a therapeutic tendency to improve your life. I appreciate the fact that many people seem to need it for lifesaving reasons, but I think every person that is using it benefits. Really all we?re doing is breathing in air. It?s the most ridiculous and absurd thing.
George Washington was a marijuana farmer and was the largest landowner when he was president. Thomas Jefferson was a great advocate of marijuana farming. They wrote extensively on it. If you condemn me, you condemn your founding fathers. I?ve done nothing worse than George Washington did, and I?ve done it for the same reasons. Like he said, ?Spread the hemp seed around. Sow it and use it everywhere.?
If I do go to jail, I?ve got plans.
When you?ve been arrested 22 times, in jail 17 times in eight of 10 provinces, raided six times and had a million dollars worth of assets taken, you have to have a plan. I?m planning to learn Spanish and French. I?ll write my memoirs. That should take about five or seven years. There are also the times you have to learn to deal with solitary confinement so you don?t go crazy. They?ll try to drive me insane so that I?m never any use to the movement when I get out. You?ve got to make sure you can speak to yourself, so what I?d do in solitary is go over all the chapters of the book. I?ll memorize things in solitary and then write them down when I get out. But I?m not scared. I?m not scared of anything. In fact, I kind of like it all. I like the battle, I like seeing my enemies frightened and overreacting and I like watching them hang themselves with their own rope.
We can?t have change without a crisis, and to have a crisis, you need your enemies to overreach. The stupid U.S. federal government has overreached, caused a dramatic calamity for the American people, imminent financial catastrophe with their war expenditures and universal hatred of them. All these things will have a real blowback effect that will be quite staggering. I like to think that the DEA has finally picked on somebody their own size in this philosophical battle. Strap on your amour, pull your sword from its sheath and prepare to get bloody.
Extradition: the surrender of an alleged fugitive or criminal by one state, nation or authority to another.