Marc Emery’s US Federal Prison blog #13: Letter to Jodie

Dearest Jodie: What a sad and wrenching weekend, my dear. On Saturday morning you were so tired and sadly vacant for our visit (because of the terrible start with you being upset by the way a guard was treating me, and the unexpected photos when you were not dressed up or ready for them) that it had me reeling with sadness for the remainder of the day. That was the worst visit we’ve had. But I threw myself into work and began writing an excellent chapter for Barry Cooper’s new book, about my experience and observations about life in a federal prison. It’s turned out to be excellent; I know Barry will really like it and it will be a great addition to his book.

By Sunday we were both doing some great work to impress each other and ourselves, and became very excited to see each other on Monday to get it right. You did some great work on a personal letter to Judge Martinez, you were contacting elected Canadian politicians to sign on to a letter to Vic Toews urging my repatriation and getting commitments, you got press releases done and sent out for my sentencing on Friday, and we discussed how John McKay, the former District Attorney who originally prosecuted me and demanded my extradition here, called me an idiot in the Sunday Seattle Times while advocating legalizing marijuana.

We both thought it outlandish that McKay, who was part of the problem of prohibition (now admitted by himself in print), did not recant his actions against me. I was, after all, sincerely advocating the solution he now agrees is the necessary approach to solve the problem of organized crime. He was in the wrong, I was in the right, yet I’m an idiot and he is living life unmolested by any guilt over his tenure as D.A. while adopting the very politics I espoused as he pursued me and ripped me out of my country and happy home.

And then I did something so stupid. I knew that today, Monday, was Labor Day and we were both excited to see each other soon after 2pm. You and I have never encountered a holiday visit that changed the visiting schedule; the last holiday, July 4th, was on a Sunday and normally that’s a 2-hour visit any time between 7:30am and 2:30pm, so we didn’t think a federal holiday impacted times at all because that holiday schedule was no different than the usual Sunday schedule. So I assumed visiting started at 2pm, and you remember that child-like aphorism “Never assume, because you make an ASS of U and ME” – and I did! I didn’t look it up in my rulebook or think about it, so didn’t tell you that holiday visits are always at 7:30am, then you showed up at 1:45 to start the visiting processing at 2pm, and they turned you away because visiting was just ending!

It was so heartbreaking, frustrating, infuriating and depressing for both of us. I cried in my room, and I broke down and cried at the dinner table when I got my pathetic “dinner” of peanut butter, 2 slices of bread and white rice.

I decided to focus on the good parts of my weekend. I decided I want to turn (which currently just takes people to into the website for my life story writings. I have fourteen stories in my autobiography done and I’m not particularly interested in whether it’s in published book form or not – I’d rather have a website where all my good writing can be accessed in one place. So I’m going to write a minimum of 100 stories about my life, as planned when I said the book would be 100 chapters, and I already have 14 done now. Then I want my best published pieces from other publications – like “Rastafari: The Secret History of the Marijuana Religion“, which is my favorite piece I ever wrote for Cannabis Culture Magazine – included in another section called “My Favorite Writings”. Others I want at are “Prince of Pot Busted” from CC #58 [article also posted at]and the interview “Marc Emery: The Prince of Pot Speaks Out” from CC #16. The piece “On the 30th Anniversary of my Vasectomy & My Girlfriend’s 2nd Trimester Abortion” published at will be part of my autobiography, and it’s my favorite written work on a life experience, up to some of the stories I’ve written in the last week.

I want to include the best of my original jail blogs from my imprisonment in Saskatoon in 2004 (which you transcribed from audio to post online, falling in love with me as you spent hours every night listening to my stories), but I’ll need to go over copies that you can send me in the mail. I’m really looking forward to what you think of my new auto-bio stories “Saving Roy”, “Dad & Betty”, “Toni Lauriston”, “The Prophecy”, “Breaking My Promise”, “Two Years Behind Bars”, “Stamp Treasure”, “Bound Volumes” – and all of them. The only one that’s not really great is my first one I wrote about Cheech & Chong and “Big Bambu”, but everything else I think is very good material.

I’m surprised how good my chapter on life in Federal Prison is. It’s for a new book by Barry Cooper. It will really fully inform people who might be headed to federal prison what life is like in an FDC, including being in the ‘hole’, solitary confinement. That’s the point of Barry including the chapter: my experience there. It’s very thorough. The next chapter for him is “Life in an FCI”, which I can’t write with authority until I get to my Federal Correctional Institution sometime after my sentencing this Friday. My transfer could be just three weeks after sentencing, or it could be months. I just hope it’s a place that has email (Corrlinks, which we use to communicate with each other and cherish) and that it is not too awkward for you to visit, since you don’t drive and rely on supporters to help.

I know I am asking the judge to recommend my designation be Lompoc FCI, 25 miles north of Santa Barbara in California. We have friends there you can stay with, and it’s near air routes from Los Angeles, so it won’t be as expensive to visit as many of the other places I might get sent to, which could be as far as Texas, Georgia, Mississippi, or North Carolina.

Of course, the best thing about this Friday the 10th when I get sentenced is my Transfer application, under the International Transfer of Offenders treaty, goes to the Canadian Consulate after I get sentenced. As soon as I arrive at my designated FCI, wherever it may be, I can put in my application to the US Bureau of Prisons for transfer back to the Canadian Correctional system. Under current Canadian law, I qualify for parole at 20 months of my 60-month sentence as a first time non-violent offender in the Canadian federal system. That means I could be out on parole in November 2011, in time to be with you for Christmas next year!

I just hit the 6-month (180 days) mark of my sentence today – that’s the time I’ve served awaiting extradition and my sentencing – so if I’m transferred to Canada, 20 months will be November 10, 2011. But that’s only if Public Safety Minister Vic Toews approves my transfer, and the US Bureau Of Prisons approves my transfer. D.A. Greenburg said he would not oppose my transfer in our negotiations, so that is very positive, and because there were no victims to my crime (according to my PSR report) there will be no objection from any “victims”, so that just leaves the US Justice Department, represented by the BOP.

That’s why it’s important, dear Jodie, to emphasize to all our supporters, that the effort they make on Saturday, September 18th, Marc Emery Support Day, is vitally important. Canadians writing letters to Vic Toews is SO IMPORTANT; I need him to receive thousands of letters IN THE MAIL to assure prompt approval of my transfer. I need the US Justice Department to receive thousands of letters from US CITIZENS, IN THE MAIL urging my repatriation back to Canada. I don’t think enough attention has been paid to my US supporters making their voice heard at the US Justice Department for my transfer to Canada.

The Honourable Public Safety Minister Vic Toews
Parliament Hill
Suite 306, HC Justice Building
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6
(No postage required in Canada)

204-326-9889 and 613-992-3128


U.S. Department of Justice
Criminal Division, Office of Enforcement Operations
International Prisoner Transfer Program
JCK Building, 12th Floor
Washington, DC 20530


I answered some questions from the Vancouver Sun’s Ian Mulgrew, who is preparing material for an article on my sentencing [“Prince of Pot prosecutor declares marijuana prohibition a bust”]. I know he has seen John McKay’s piece in the Seattle Times. My friend and great protégé Loretta Nall, in Alabama, was furious McKay called me an idiot (and tens of millions of Americans also) for using cannabis while he was the problem and I advocated the solution he now calls for, and she wrote a letter condemning his hypocrisy. But here is one of Ian’s questions with my answer:

Q: Do you have any regrets now that you’ve been incarcerated, and even put in solitary confinement?

A: I do have regrets. I regret that my methods of selling seeds to Americans put me in jail and took me away from my wife. I miss her dearly and think of her every day. I cry over it frequently in my cell or when I speak to Jodie on the phone. But then I have to consider what became of that $4 million I gave away to American and Canadian activists and lobby groups. I gave $5,000 in January 1998 to pay petitioners to gather signatures in Washington, DC for a medical marijuana initiative, which was finally implemented recently. If not for that $5,000, the signatures would never have been collected and the medical marijuana distribution scheme going into effect now (it was blocked by Congress for 10 years) would not exist. The director of the Alcohol Distribution Agency in Washington, DC actually called me on the phone earlier this year and consulted with me on protocols for running the medical marijuana production aspect of the system, of which he is in charge of. Even more significantly, in January 2000, I gave $15,000 of my seed profits to pay signature gatherers in Colorado to get the medical marijuana initiative on the ballot in that state. Without that money, the campaign probably would have failed; so Colorado, which now has over 200,000 of its citizens with medical marijuana cards and the legal ability to possess, cultivate and consume medical cannabis, would not be where it is today. Those 200,000 citizens would still be being prosecuted, instead of protected as they are today, because one Canadian cared enough and had a plan!

And Canadian governments collected taxes from me for those seeds sales. Health Canada recommended me before they started selling their two varieties of seeds. The worldwide Global Marijuana March, which sees 20,000-30,000 attendees march in downtown Toronto each year, with participation worldwide of perhaps a quarter million people in over 300 cities, was started with money from my seed sales; from 1999-2005, each year I contributed $35,000 to fund this now self-sustaining event to get it where it is today. The April 20 celebrations that go on everywhere on Earth, and attract 10,000 participants in downtown Vancouver each year, and 10,000 in Denver now too, and perhaps up to a million more celebrants around the world (but especially Canada and the USA), was started in 1995 by my co-workers and the money from my seed sales, and grew into a global phenomenon because I made it happen. The 2003 Canadian Supreme Court challenge to marijuana prohibition in Canada that took 8 years and $85,000 of seed sale money to finance would never have happened without that money. We lost 6-3, but we were only two judges’ opinion away from changing history – all because I was there with a plan to make it happen. My pioneering drug addiction clinic and rehabilitation center, the Iboga Therapy House, which blazed a trail for what is now recognized as the greatest hope for drug addiction recovery, ibogaine hydrochloride, was done from 2002-2004 with $205,000 in seed sales money.

I have hundreds of examples, Ian, of outstanding history-changing events: election campaigns, polls, rallies, clinics, court challenges, conferences, compassion clubs, legal challenges, class-action suits against the US federal government, and much more, all of which existed only because of the millions of dollars of seed money that I directed to those projects. $152,000 in seed money was contributed to the historic BC Marijuana Party campaign in 2001, where a full slate of 79 candidates participated seriously in every riding in British Columbia. It put cannabis at the front of the election and debate issues. All of these actions were peaceful and democratic and fully transparent, harming no one, for the purpose of liberating humanity and the beloved plant therapies of the Earth. To regret my actions that led to this sad and unjust incarceration would be to deny all the great good that came from my philanthropy, it would be to deny the great progress our movement has made as a result of my unrelenting and honest activism.

Do I regret being in prison? Yes. Often. I am, however, very pleased that I have made considerable progress in my autobiography. I am working hard away on my Canadian voters guide. I have a chapter completed about life in US federal prison for a new book by Barry Cooper. I have written 300 letters of correspondents to people of the world who have written me. I have been busy. I have tried to be stoic. My hero, Martin Luther King, Jr. was often called on to go to jail to force the issue of segregation before the media, courts, and politicians. To quote the book I have finished reading on King, “Pillar of Fire” by Taylor Branch: “Above all, King hated jail, which revived his bouts of self-reproach and depression. He decided to post bond the next afternoon.” Even the great man himself found jail a hard thing to endure, and I have spent already far more time in jail for my cause and my people that King endured in his time.

That’s the end of that answer for Mulgrew. I share it with you, Jodie, because we both need inspiration and cheering up, and Mulgrew can only use a few lines at best.

I am still your ever-faithful husband, and I am always madly in love with you, and that makes my time more unbearable and at the same time endurable, knowing that I am still your hero, no matter what comes. It is you I rely on so much for moral comfort in my dark and sad days of loneliness that sometimes afflict me here, and when I contemplate the long, difficult road ahead, of enduring months and years of incarceration, it is your love and the legacy of my achievements that keep me from utter and abject collapse into despair.

Having finished part one and two of Taylor Branch’s fine biography of Martin Luther King, Jr., I am now reading Stephen Davis’ biography of Bob Marley, hoping I can find inspiration in Bob’s incredible rise to greatness from the most humble of origins. Of course, Leonard Howell, the founder of Rastafari, was made to suffer ridicule and persecution by the Jamaican government in his lifetime, so I have the example of the great ones in my soul, Miss, and I am cognizant that there is a fine place in history for the both of us, so let’s rejoice about our unique love, our great marriage and our incredible destiny that awaits us. Remember our world tour we will embark on upon my return and final release from prison! We will go to Ireland, England, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Spain, Italy, India, Cambodia, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil and everywhere else my supporters have invited me – let us hope that happens in 2012! Our fans will sponsor us, just as they did across Canada for our Farewell Tour last year. We have never traveled abroad because the US authorities would have had me arrested since I have been doing my revolutionary activity since 1995, so it’s been 14 years since I have been anywhere outside of Canada. Once my US time is done and this sentence is served here and in Canada, we can visit the cannabis culture across the globe – it will be the reward for all our struggles. And then I hope we will finally go on our triumphant tour of all 50 states in the USA to meet our people, and it will be glorious with cannabis legal and accepted, finally, after all these pernicious government persecutions have been declared obsolete. That is the dream!

Our Farewell Tour was so wonderful last summer: 30 cities across Canada in 38 days, and we never had an argument or any kind of kerfuffle! We were so in love even knowing I would be gone soon, and we traveled hours every day to get to the next speaking engagement. How is the Farewell Tour DVD video coming along by the way? I know you have the first cut, but have yet to watch it. That magnificent tour will be fully captured on DVD when you add the photographs we took in each city, along with the videos you made (and still have more to make) on YouTube, which chronicled all of the tour locations and dates.

(More videos to come – Subscribe to PotTV on YouTube!)

Paul McKeever is finally able to produce the new movie “Principle of Pot” on DVD and he told me of the packaging and the production going on. You’ll have them later this month, it’s hoped. He said he finally watched it for the first time since he produced it, about 5 months ago, and it still seemed pretty good to him! It took 17 months to do. I responded to Paul that it is a brilliant work, painstakingly put together, considering it’s available for free and he’ll never make a dime from all that work. It has so much seminal material on my life. People send me letters with my quotes from “Principle of Pot” all the time. I wonder how many views on YouTube it has now?

The “Principle of Pot” DVD will be great as a document to explain so much of my life, I think, especially when someone asks, “Who is Marc Emery?” when they see signs at an intersection or on an overpass that say “Google Marc Emery”. The doc was very rationally presented, and easy to digest even though it’s four hours long as it’s very visual and entertaining. I don’t think that anything about me on video will ever be as complete or as good a job explaining the history of my wide-ranging politics and activism before, and including, marijuana.

I told Paul that the CBC documentary “Prince of Pot” director Nick Wilson got such great feedback and exposure for his debut director’s job that it’s unlikely he’ll find any subject matter as interesting or as challenging. “Prince of Pot” was broadcast over 18 times on CBC, Knowledge Network, and Court TV. I hope he will do an updated re-issue of the DVD with producer Anne Pick, reflecting my incarceration and interviewing you in your much more mature persona that isn’t captured in the original 2006/2007 “Prince of Pot” movie.

In a strange and disturbing parallel thought, I know it was my life story that propelled director Chris Doty, from my hometown London, Ontario, to end his life. Five days before committing suicide, my friend and video & play biographer Chris confided to me over dinner, looking me in the eye and saying with sadness and confession, “No one cares about the histories that you and I care about, Marc. I might end up amusing people with my historical work, and some things, like my Donnelly play, made money and were popular, but that was a fluke. People don’t care that you are one of London’s greatest sons; they ignore it. It’s all meaningless to them. This damn world of cheap, sleazy television… it makes me wistful, like I was born in the wrong time.”

Then you and I went with him to the premiere of the great play about me, “Citizen Marc”, which I so loved and was proud of everything about it; I thought it was amazing. And after the premiere, Chris escorted us back to the London Armories Hotel, standing outside the front entrance, and he asked me what I thought. I said, “It’s perfect, Chris, absolutely perfect. You should film it for DVD and release it with your first documentary about me [‘Messing Up The System’], and take it on the road as well.” And then he wanly smiled and said “I’m pleased to hear you say that, Marc. That way, if I died tomorrow, I could go content knowing you approved.”

Those were the last words I spoke to him, the last I heard from his mouth. Five nights later, on a Thursday night in his mother’s home, he hung himself, because, I always thought, Wednesday and Thursday night’s performances hadn’t sold out like the premiere night, and it confirmed his cynical belief that people in London just didn’t care about something/someone he thought they should care about. The play Citizen Marc went on to win “Best Actor” (for the lead star) and “Best Director” in that year’s Brickenden Awards for theatre, and could probably be mounted as a successful stage play across Canada to great success today.

Many times I have wished I had lied to Chris and told him “It’s a bit rough, Chris, I think you need to work on it more to really get it right, then maybe it will be more popular.” Telling him it was perfect was his moment to decide that “Citizen Marc” was the last great project he wanted to complete. Chris began his career in documentary with me, the 1993 documentary film “Marc Emery: Messing Up The System” and it won an award too, and got him his first full time job in documentary films. He believed, I think, that his life had come to its terminus, full circle from beginning to end, literally with my life story.

Today I was so sad because I had a disappointing weekend with and without you, my wonderful wife, but now I’m crying in the corner of my computer room here in the FDC because Chris Doty gave his life to get my life story out there, and I had better live up to his ultimate investment in me. Chris Doty, a great talent, gone, who got so bound up in my life that he took on an unfair, unexplainable burden of what he saw as a rejection of what I stood for, and saw the world in the wrong perspective for just as much time as it took for him to take his own life. And he so loved and respected my work and me after spending so much time in my original bookshop City Lights so many years ago.

I’m sorry I was mean and angry in my earlier messages, Miss, and I really should be braver and better. I just think of Chris Doty and his love for me and I am so grateful to be alive and to have your love, and so grateful that I have lived amongst friends who loved me so much.

I will call you in the morning, my dearest! Finally my phone is restored after running out of minutes last Thursday! Those 300 minutes we are limited to each month sure don’t go far. But Tuesday is the 7th and my commissary limit and my phone minutes get restored on the 7th of each month, so I will call you around 9:00 am to wish you my love and apologize for any harsh words I wrote to you when I was so overwrought with frustration and sadness at our visit not happening.

Goodnight, sweetheart. I can’t wait to hear to hear your voice!
Your Humbled Prince,

Marc Emery
Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist, entrepreneur, and politician. Known to his fans as the Prince of Pot, Emery has been a notable advocate of international cannabis policy reform for decades. Marc is the founding publisher of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.