The City of Vancouver vs. CCHQ, Round One

CCHQ's business license hearing at Vancouver City Hall. From left: Jodie Emery, Marc Emery, Kirk Tousaw, Barbara WindsorCCHQ’s business license hearing at Vancouver City Hall. From left: Jodie Emery, Marc Emery, Kirk Tousaw, Barbara WindsorCANNABIS CULTURE – Today’s business license hearing for Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters ended unresolved after three hours of testimony from Vancouver’s chief license inspector, and will be resumed on July 21, 2009.

The City of Vancouver has refused to grant several business licenses to Emery’s limited company, Avalon Sunsplash Ltd., which owns and operates the CCHQ Store, Cannabis Culture Magazine, Pot.tv, and the 420 Convenience store.

Barbara Windsor, the city’s chief license inspector, told a panel of City Council members that she refused to grant the licenses because of Emery’s 2004 marijuana trafficking conviction for passing a joint at a political rally in Saskatchewan, and police reports that marijuana was being consumed on business premises.

Windsor spent more than an hour outlining Emery’s history as a Vancouver business owner, focusing on his run-ins with law enforcement, including his now-famous 2005 bust for selling marijuana seeds (for which he is currently facing extradition to the United States).

Windsor seemed to falter under questioning by Avalon Sunsplash’s lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, who asked the inspector if she had actually investigated the circumstances of Emery’s 2004 conviction before she had denied one of the licenses. Windsor admitted that she had not investigated the circumstances before the denial. When Tousaw asked how passing a joint in 2004 is related to the operation of Emery’s businesses today, her only explanation was that Emery’s businesses “are marijuana related”.

Windsor was also forced to admit that after nine years of operation in the current location at 307 West Hastings St., Emery’s businesses had never received a single complaint – and that there was no real evidence of any laws being broken in regard to pot on the premises.

“Basically, the licensing inspector and the police are being extremely petty.” Emery said after the hearing. “They’re zeroing in merely on my reputation and not any substantive danger or threat to the community, illegal activity, complaints, or anything that’s shown to be harmful.”

Emery suspects he is being unfairly targeted for his political activism, and thinks local law enforcement was hoping to sweep him under the rug before the 2010 Olympic Games.

“The police, after colluding with the DEA four years ago, are frustrated that they haven’t got rid of me,” Emery said. “I’m still around; and now, rather than trying criminal law or extradition, they’re trying regulatory agencies to get me out of town.

“By not giving a license to Cannabis Culture Magazine and Pot.tv, they’re trying to censor us through regulation, and trying to compromise a media organization that’s very political, anti-establishment, and against the status quo – although very much in tune with the Vancouver public’s point of view.”

Windsor, who had attempted to paint Emery’s organization as a small-time operation with a small staff, said she was not aware that Emery employed nearly 30 people at his several businesses.

“We pay hundreds of thousands a year in payroll, property, and sales taxes and spend millions in the lower mainland on local suppliers of goods,” Emery said, “and we draw a lot of tourism – so we are a tremendous engine for both government revenues and the local economy.”

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Please continue to send polite letters (or cut and paste the one below) to [email protected] and tell the Mayor and City Council of Vancouver to give Marc Emery and Cannabis Culture their business licenses!

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EMAIL: [email protected]

FAX: 604.873.7419

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Dear Vancouver City Council:

I am writing to support granting business licenses to Marc Emery for the “Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters” store at 307 West Hastings Street and “420 Convenience” store at 316 West Hastings.

I believe the businesses contribute positively to the local community and improve the area culturally and economically. In light of Marc Emery’s significant contributions to Vancouver and BC, I wholeheartedly support his application for business licenses and encourage you to do the same.

Regards,

(Name)
(Address)
(Phone Number)


Prince of Pot’s empire in peril

Marijuana advocate says city hall trying to run him out of town
by Katie Mercer, The Province

Marijuana activist Marc Emery says the City of Vancouver is trying to smoke him out of town.

Emery has run his political campaign office, magazine and Cannabis Culture Headquarters store out of a West Hastings building in Vancouver for over a decade.

He’s never needed a licence before because his company was run under his political party, the now-defunct B.C. Marijuana Party.

But now he says the city is pulling out all the stops to prevent him from earning a living.

“No one has ever complained about our three businesses in a whole decade,” said Emery, who defended himself before City Hall licencing panel Tuesday.

“Basically they’re just haters without a case and they want to hang me out to dry.”

Emery applied for three business licences in December 2008 for his Cannabis Culture magazine, convenience store and marijuana-paraphernalia store.

His applications were rejected on April 9, with city employees citing his 2004 drug-trafficking conviction criminal record.

He argues he was merely passing a joint.

Emery said he feels like he’s being personally attacked.

“This is all about me,” said Emery. “There are a dozen seed stores in this city operating without licences and no one’s charging them for anything.

“We’re not doing anything: we don’t sell seeds, we don’t break the law, we don’t sell marijuana.”

Emery noted that his political advocacy of cultivation, consumption, production and legalization of marijuana was noted twice Tuesday during his rebuttal.

“This is totally related to the Olympics,” he said. “They’re just nervous to show the culture of what Vancouver is really like to the world.

“This is a total political battle. It has nothing to do with passing a joint five years ago, that’s just an excuse.”

He’s scheduled to meet with city officials again on July 21 where he plans to argue the benefits of his enterprises to the city.

“They are grasping at straws to try to keep me out of this city,” said Emery. “They’re trying to censor me and deny me a living because they don’t like me and they don’t like what I’m about.”

– Article from The Province.


‘Pot Prince’ Emery fights to keep store licences

by CTV News

The self-described “Prince of Pot” addressed Vancouver City Hall Tuesday, fighting the decision not to license his three marijuana-themed businesses.

Cannabis activist Marc Emery applied for three licenses in December; for his Cannabis Culture magazine, paraphernalia store, and his convenience store on Hastings Street. On April 9, all of the applications were denied.

City employees defended the decision, citing Emery’s 2004 arrest for drug trafficking. In his defense, Emery says he was merely passing a joint.

Emery says the city’s decision is hypocritical, considering how roughly 10,000 marijuana users who were able to publicly smoke the drug on April 20 in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

He argued that compared to drunk and rowdy nightclub patrons his clientele has never caused problems in Vancouver.

“Every weekend that we’ve been on that block for 15 years, the police have never been called to address any street disorder, for 15 years in our building and around our building,” he said.

The Cannabis Culture store sells bongs and pipes for pot smoking, clothing, books, games and DVDs – much many other paraphernalia stores in the Lower Mainland.

But other stores, like national tobacco and herb-smoking paraphernalia chain Puff Pipes, are being allowed licences.

Claire Brousseau, manager of Puff Pipes on Main Street, says that her business’ “strict use of terminology” and insistence that marijuana smoking not take place within their walls has kept them safe from controversy.

Emery’s store, like others in the Lower Mainland, has been known to take a looser approach.

But while Cannabis Culture Headquarters may have once had a “vapor lounge” – a room for supervised marijuana smoking – Emery says the service was removed six weeks ago.

“To be disrespected like this now is really in poor taste I think,” Emery said. “This city should appreciate me.”

Emery’s appeal is scheduled to last at least until the end of July, which leaves plenty of time for the outspoken marijuana activist to drum up support for his cause – and the public may be on his side.

An Angus Reid Strategies poll released earlier before the provincial election suggested that 65 per cent of British Columbians see marijuana legalization as a viable solution to the province’s gang problem.

– Article from CTV News.

Comments

6 Comments

  1. Anonymous on

    I have submitted my letter of support to the Vancouver City Council on your behalf, and hope it makes some kind of difference. Count on myself and others to do what we can to help the cause. Good luck!

  2. ZachB on

    Mark Emery employs 30 people enough said nothing else about his life should have been part of the hearing. The fact that he is being extradited to the US or that he has used marijuana just like almost every other Canadian shouldn’t have even brought up by the board. They would be forced to close down thousands of Vancouver businesses on the basis of being stoned, Mark is good for the economy which is reason enough to allow him to operate.

  3. Anonymous on

    Decriminalization still supports an underground market! The last comment by Lee makes no sense! If we legalize it then prices would plummet and a local and openly regulated market would follow.

    It is a ‘drug’, but i consider it like tomatoes. Dont use in excess and respect what you are doing and the people around you!

    And dont tax it any more than you would any product!

    NO REGULATIONS ON PLANTS

  4. Cory on

    Why is the council bringing up all marc emery’s arrests, that has nothing to do with the CCHQ an getting a licence. they just want him gone but it’s not going to work, Marc emery and his wife an everyone they work with fight for what they believe in. An nothing is better then that.

    SUPPORT THEM
    EMAIL THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL
    STAND UP FOR YOURSELF

    I send emails everyday For them an iam not stoping

  5. Billie on

    I haven’t had the pleasure of making a trip to Canada yet and hope all goes well for you Marc. I emailed the city on behalf of your license, even from Atlanta, Ga.

    Thank you so much for your strength and dedication.

    Atlanta