Marc Emery's US Federal Prison blog #14: Letter to Jodie
Dearest Jodie: I so loved our two visits this weekend. And what a momentous weekend it was! We got the sentencing done, and it went as we expected, and my application to be transferred back into the Canadian corrections system was delivered to the Canadian Consulate in Seattle. It will be on the Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews’ desk late next week. The Marc Emery Support Day comes at just the right time this Saturday, September 18.
Please emphasize to anyone that they don't have to join a rally if there isn’t one nearby; it’s preferable that they simply make a few legible signs and hold them up at their nearest busy intersection, baseball or football stadium or well-frequented place for 2-3 hours after noon. "Google ‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery - political prisoner - Return Him to Canada" for Americans, and "Repatriate Marc Emery Back to Canada, Vic Toews!" for Canadians. That will help me immensely.
You were amazing this week, my love, doing dozens of interviews in so much media, including CNN, CBC, Canadian Press, the Seattle area news, and so many Canadian radio, TV, and newspapers. The email copies I received were over 20 different reports, and you’ve told me there were over 350 news results on Google about it. I know you were nervous beforehand but, as always, you got so much done and said. It was great seeing you in court and then visiting with me afterward.
I've received emails from close friends assuming I'm sad or dejected but I am not! I'm excited to be moving on. We have huge support to have me transferred back to Canada! We have dozens of elected politicians signing a joint letter to Vic Toews urging my repatriation, including MPs, Mayors, Councillors, MLAs, and Senators. Toews has received over a thousand letters so far since August 1st and I know he will get several hundred more. We must urge everyone to send in a letter to him urging my immediate approval of my transfer under the treaty that obligates the Canadian government to bring me back. As you know, I qualify under the criteria established in the Treaty for the Transfer of International Offenders between Canada and the United States – I’m not part of organized crime, I’m not a threat to national security, no victims object to my return (as there are no victims), and I’m not going to reoffend.
The Judge recommended my transfer request be honoured, and though it is not legally binding, it is of moral suasion to both governments. The District Attorney said they would make no objection. The State Department is the only body remaining to make a decision from the US. My application for transfer will be submitted as soon as I get to my designated US prison, which I hope is Lompoc FCI just north of Santa Barbara, in California. I chose Lompoc because it has email, is relatively easy for you to get there to visit me, has good weather to be in the "yard" daily, and has 2-man cells, similar to what I am used to here at the FDC. I expect to pack-out of here sometime in late October, and be at my designated FCI by late November. Then my application gets done. It’s costly, but I hope you can raise the money to pay for our treaty transfer specialist that we hired to help get my US application approval. I know I already suck up nearly $1,000 a month for commissary, phone, email and newspaper subscriptions, and you spend much more than that visiting me, but you will need to find $4,000 to pay for the treaty transfer specialist that I want hired. We need someone knowledgeable with the US application process and this woman is reputed to be very good at assisting a successful application. Please ask around and get donations and see who can help.
Of course it’s possible I'll get sent to TAFT Correctional Institution (CI) in California, or Dalby in Texas, or McRae in Georgia, or a CI in Pennsylvania, Mississippi, or New Mexico – private prisons that specialize in deportable and "criminal aliens", as I am considered. The problem with places like these is that they are very much more difficult for you to access to visit and most don't have email.
I won't really even know where I'm going to end up until I actually get there, and there will be days or even weeks when you won't hear from me while I am on the road and getting in-taken at FDC's on the way to my final designation prison. It will be very difficult and trying for both of us, but we must get along in the process to reach my goal of being home in Canada on full parole by Christmas, 2011. That’s the point I'll have served over 20 months of my sentence, and 20 months is 1/3 of the 60-month sentence; in Canada, for first time, non-violent offenders, that qualifies me for full parole. I have to get approval from the US and Canada for that to happen, but it is the hope that keeps me optimistic.
In the meantime, I have been very prolific this past week. I wrote my latest piece for SKUNK Magazine, I finished my chapter on life in federal prison for Barry Cooper's new book, I made many corrections for my auto-biographical stories that are soon to show up on my soon-to-be-made www.marcemery.ca website, where my life story, my best work for Cannabis Culture, my best political writing, my best interviews, videos, and documentaries will be. I wrote up my speech to the Judge that I delivered in court, and made sure that the “Principle of Pot” documentary is going to be manufactured into DVDs in a few weeks so they will be available in October. I hope Cliff Maynard's roach-paper art portrait of us will be available in quality prints in a few weeks (it’s not online yet, but you saw the original at Seattle Hempfest). I love that portrait. His art is so great, made with thousands of pieces of roach papers! He's a genius, and I’m so pleased we were the first to give him coverage in our second-last issue of Cannabis Culture!
My friend Paul McKeever has a great blog post coming out that talks about my sentencing and quotes a fair bit of a conversation I had with him on email about this discussion going on about my letter to the judge where I said I won't be engaging in civil disobedience any longer, and not advocating it. I hope the 28 arrests on behalf of the movement, and 22 jailings – including this very long one of at least 20 months and 40 more on parole in Canada and possibly 4 years to go here in the USA if my transfers are not approved – are sufficient in the eyes of my supporters to consider that I have "paid my dues". My example of successful civil disobedience, from illegally opening my bookstore on Sundays and seeing that law overturned, to illegally selling marijuana books and magazines and seeing that law overturned too, still exists and people know that I have used civil disobedience before. I just don’t need to do it again.
I was sincere to Judge Martinez too. I would not write anything insincere, even if I consider my incarceration an injustice, which of course it is. The vast part of my speech to the judge, and much of my letter to him, I spoke with pride of my many achievements I had accomplished: US ballot initiatives funded, Supreme Court challenges funded, the Global Marijuana Marches, BC Marijuana Party campaigns, the Iboga Therapy House, the overturning of Canada's censorship of marijuana magazines, books, literature; financing the court cases that established Canadian federal medical marijuana law; and much more. It’s a staggering catalog of success and activism and I never said I regretted any of it.
At the end of my letter to the judge, I said I would not longer be civilly disobedient, but this is a practical matter. Once back in Canada, if I am released at 20 months under current Canadian law, I'm on parole for 40 months more. If I break the law, any laws, I can get sent back to prison for all or part of that 40 months. There are no circumstances that I am willing to cross that legal threshold for.
Now, as a corollary to the statement I won't break the law, I certainly won't advocate to others what I won't do myself. Secondly, in order to get my transfer to Canada into the Canadian Corrections system, and ultimately release on parole, I'm promising the Public Safety Minister Toews I won't break the law, so I can't go back on my word to him either. My word is always good, whether it’s to a prison official, a judge, the Minister, my customers, my wife, or my supporters.
In order to travel to the United States, there’s a period of 4 years of supervised release after the 60 months of prison/parole is completed. So if I'm in the United States anytime to the year 2019, I have to honour these sentencing mandates. It would appear after I'm deported back to Canada, upon my release on parole or afterward, I may be eligible for travel in the United States, which is excellent as I am dearly wanting to speak to my American supporters in speeches and appearances. But again, breaking the law in that period can result in my immediate imprisonment. So public bong hitting, smoking pot in public, and, because I can be urine tested anytime in that 9 years in the US (and for the 60 months in Canada), no smoking pot at all, all these previously common activities are not going to be available to me for some time, likely until pot becomes legal, which I hope is soon.
If my critics – and I understand, Jodie, that there are so-called supporters on Facebook and elsewhere anguishing over my statement to the judge that there will be no further law-breaking from me – and naysayers want to honour me, then it is incumbent on them to end prohibition where they live. Until then, they are free (until they are not) to use civil disobedience if they choose that path, but I am bound up by my promises, which are necessary, not to break the law or recommend that course of action. If this criticism comes from people who themselves are too timid to do what they expect me to do, I find this hypocritical. Others, like my good friend Chris Goodwin, do not travel to the US, because he already has a criminal record and has no hope of traveling to the US. Chris is a fine activist, but there may also come a time when, because he has two children and employees who depend on him, civil disobedience may be unavailable to him as a practical option. For people like you, Jodie, oh sweet wonderful wife, you cannot disobey laws for the simple matter you need to be able to travel to the US to visit me, and you must set an example for others that your method of working in the current political environment can influence and cause change towards a just society. Others simply cannot use civil disobedience if it jeopardizes their ability to travel to the US or their employment prospects.
I did admit I was arrogant to the judge. I admitted I regret breaking the law, but that is because I dislike jail and I greatly miss you, my dear, more than anything else in this world, and you and I know how heartbreaking our separation is. I never renounced any of the results of my action; I never said I regret selling seeds. I didn't concede I harmed anyone. I said in my speech to the judge – which will soon be available when you receive the court transcript – that prohibition harms individuals, nations, and harms even respect for the rule of law by diminishing the integrity of our Constitutions. A criminal, when being contrite, may say "I regret harming you" or "I am sorry for the damage I did". I did not do that. I was proud of the results, and I indicated so. I was regretful of my punishment and promised not to offend again, but these are practical admissions, and as it turned out, the last paragraph of my letter to the judge was what he said he needed to agree to the 5-year sentence and wish me well, rather than rejecting the sincerity of my plea and ordering me to trial, which was his alternative.
One comment I found interesting on the Facebook discussions, which are being relayed to me from my friends, was someone who said having to confess and apologize to the judge of a court where tyranny is being justified “is like a rapist demanding his victim say 'I love you' during the outrage". I like the metaphor, I'm not sure it’s exactly accurate, but it makes one think.
Another point I'd like to make, Jodie, is that throughout my letter and speech to the judge, I never referred to my actions as criminal conduct. I always referred to them as civil disobedience. Can you imagine how a court would react if any other defendant went in and referred to their conduct as 'civil disobedience'? Oh Nelly, that would make a judge explode! But Judge Martinez didn't react adversely where I used that term. He clearly had some sympathy for my predicament, wished me well, admitted 5 years is a long, long time, conceded the drug war was gravely flawed, but said, in final, my conduct was "criminal" and a sentencing judgment was no place to determine the validity of prohibition.
My lawyer brought up Karen Tandy's statement about my politics being the true motivation for the DEA prosecution, and spoke of my original prosecutor John McKay’s recent admission in the Seattle Times that the cannabis prohibition is "dangerous" and "endangers the lives of his brave colleagues in policing" and is "futile".
My judge understood my point of view, my intent, and that’s all I can ask for, along with his recommendation to the Low Security FCI Lompoc and my transfer to Canada as soon as possible. After all, I've already agreed to plead guilty to a criminal violation of US law, and my promise to him is I won't break the law again, and since my actions that broke those laws were based on a philosophy (civil disobedience), I renounce that philosophy for my future conduct, and as a corollary of that, I won't advocate anyone else emulate that philosophy. The judge accepted that promise as accepting responsibility and I think it serves both the purposes of maintaining my integrity and the integrity of the court to have this exact resolution. I didn't renounce all other human action by me for the cause of liberty, and I didn't condemn civil disobedience; I simply promised I wouldn't do it or advocate it, for reasons that are obvious, rational and consistent. I will still be giving my greatest effort to the cause of ending prohibition, but these will be lawful methods, speaking, elections, writing, etc.
I want to be by your side, my great Mrs. Emery, and this is how I must do that. We have such a great future together, meeting our people and bringing our World Liberation Tour to our supporters in Canada, the United States, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, India, and elsewhere once I am out amongst them. We'll have my book Overgrowing The World, My Life as Prince of Pot deluxe hardcover out upon my release and we'll tour Canada to promote it and impart our knowledge and wisdom with our people as soon as we can. In the meantime, you and I are as busy as ever promoting the movement, our activity for the cause of human freedom has never been greater, and this week was a great example of our ability to bring the injustice of prohibition to millions. Let us hope our supporters feel that way too and reward us with their contribution to my liberation back to Canada this Saturday, September 18th.
I'm very proud and humbled to have such a loving, devoted, capable and intelligent wife who gives her all for me and our cause of freedom for the cannabis culture. You are an amazing woman and I am so honoured you call yourself Mrs. Marc Emery.
Your grateful husband,
Your bowed but hardly defeated Prince,