Vancouver-based marijuana legalization advocate Marc Emery, known as the “Prince of Pot” for his pro-legalization activism, is urging Canadians to vote for Canada’s Green Party.
His wife and co-editor of Cannabis Culture magazine, Jodie Emery, ran as a Green candidate in British Columbia’s 2009 provincial elections. The Orangeville Citizen carried the story.
Note: the article incorrectly states that the Canadian Green Party position on marijuana is decriminalization; the actual platform calls for full legalization.
Decriminalization refers to the elimination of criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under decriminalization, sale and cultivation of cannabis remains illegal, ensuring that profits from marijuana stay in the black market.
Legalization refers to the elimination of penalties for the regulated production, sale, and cultivation of marijuana – similar to the US government’s approach to alcohol. Under legalization, profits from marijuana would go to farmers and licensed retailers instead of violent gangs, and the government would see a surplus from tax revenues rather than spending billions every year to enforce the “war on drugs” – a prohibition regime that is largely responsible for the fact that 1 in every 100 adult Americans is currently behind bars.
Pot-laws protest tour touched Orangeville
by Dan Pelton, Orangeville Citizen
As Orangeville police looked on, Vancouver-based marijuana legalization advocate Marc Emery addressed a small but supportive crowd Saturday at Alexander Muir Park next to Town Hall.
Mr. Emery, also known as “The Prince of Pot,” spoke against proposals in federal Bill C-15 that anyone caught with five or more marijuana plants face a mandatory minimum of six months in prison.
The Harper government’s legislation also stipulates that, if growing is done on a property that belongs to another person or in an area where it may present a hazard to children, minimum jail time will be nine months.
Publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine and founder of the B.C. Marijuana Party, Mr. Emery is facing extradition to the United States where he faces a possible 10 years in jail for his business selling marijuana seeds, which is legal in Canada but illegal in the U.S.
U.S. authorities maintain that Mr. Emery’s selling of seeds is equivalent to trafficking in the drug itself.
An underlying theme in his speech was that the mandatory incarceration outlined in Bill C-15 will do more harm than good. “The best place for criminal gangs to recruit young people is in jail,” he said.
“People are going into jail as small-time drug dealers and coming out as full-time gang members.”
His wife Jody said marijuana possession “is a victimless crime. The only victims are the people put in jail when they don’t need to be.”
Prior to the meeting, police informed event organizers that they were staging a public event without permission. They remained in the vicinity during Mr. Emery’s speech but did not interfere.
Among those in the crowd was a young woman who said she and her friends had been issued tickets by police for smoking marijuana and were barred from all Orangeville public parks for a year.
She added that she had no recourse to challenge the decision.
Mr. Emery also reminded the crowd, composed mostly of people in their teens to late 20s, that they needed to get out and vote if they wanted change. “The only way to defend your autonomy is to get involved,” he said.
He urged them to vote for the Green Party, which has come out in support of decriminalizing marijuana and proposes that it be taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco.
Dufferin-Caledon Green candidate and party finance critic Ard Van Leeuwen was in attendance. ”
The Green Party is on record for the decriminalization of marijuana and we support Marc Emery’s efforts in this regard.”
He said revenues from taxation of marijuana — which, by some estimates, is an $18 billion underground business in Canada – could bring up to $1.5 billion into federal coffers.
Mr. Van Leeuwen pointed to a 2002 Senate committee report that said “scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that cannabis is substantially less harmful than alcohol and should be treated not as a criminal issue but as a social and public health issue.”
The same committee also said, however, that “we are not endorsing cannabis use for recreational consumption. Whether or not an individual uses marijuana should be a personal choice that is not subject to criminal penalties.
“But we have come to the conclusion that, as a drug, it should be regulated by the State much as we do for wine and beer, hence our preference for legalization over decriminalization.”
Mr. Van Leeuwen also said the Green Party feels the justice system would be better off to shift its focus from young, firsttime marijuana offenders and, instead, get tougher with white-collar crime and violent offenders.
– Article from Green Party Watch.