Legalization, the Hemp BC Way

this ain’t no party. this ain’t no disco. this ain’t no fooling around.

               -David Byrne

HEMP BC is the libertarian capitalist project of Marc Emery. That’s me. I was profiled in the July, 1992 High Times, I publish this magazine, and I pilot the HEMP BC store in downtown Vancouver. My partner in love, life & excitement is Debra Newman (if you want get a look at whatta babe she is, check those July `92 High Times photos). We have two sons, age 13 and 15. Just your ordinary anarchist, middle class, marijuana enthusiasts with children who happen to know when there’s a systemic plan to destroy our culture.

HEMP BC is located in the heart of my new home, Vancouver, and has two primary purposes. The first is business survival, and all other purposes hinge on this first principle. Our real raison d’etre however, is to organize the Canadian cannabis culture into an effective civil rights movement. Economic power and sound money management are essential to effectively challenge the status quo.

The visible cannabis movement in the 1967 to 1990 period was an essentially left wing movement Rebellious, socialist, uncoordinated and hedonistic: wannabe hippies. Marijuana smoking as captured in the mass media was assimilated with these characteristics and succeeded in keeping the movement’s great untapped potential in hemp closets the nation over.

Then Jack Herer entered the picture and revealed the lost history of industrial hemp, and hemp culture was suddenly faced with economic responsibility. Now, finally, the movement has changed focus and ideology for the better.

To that end, I offer up HEMP BC as an example of the kind of store I hope to see in every community in Canada with at least 35,000 people. A complete cannabis store, harmoniously integrating the industrial, medical, recreational and nutritional values of cannabis as represented by all the varied products now on the market.

I don’t recommend a limited cannabis shop with hemp products only, as some out there are thinking, because soon the mass market shops will feature the best of the hemp products, and then what will you sell? At HEMP BC there is a small mark-up on hemp goods, but a better mark-up on books and smoking implements. Cannabis smokers are subsidizing the low margins on hemp clothes so that these hemp goods can be introduced into the market. That’s one of the many useful ways in which our customers’ money is recycled back to them.

So when a new hemp entrepreneur asks me what kind of hemp store they should open, I tell them “only a complete cannabis shop with all the papers, pipes and books plus all the hemp clothes, soaps, foods, fabrics, twine, paper, etc.” An industrial hemp shop on its own cannot be profitable at this point in time because in order to keep margins low, the marijuana material subsidizes the hemp until a made-in-Canada price brings us lower costs.

The hemp culture, nonetheless, is exploding because the millions of us who are smoking pot are also working with hemp, distributing hemp and most importantly, putting money where our heart is, into hemp products. We are buying hemp, to smoke, to wear, to wash, to bathe, to publish, to eat, to help, to alleviate pain, to laugh. You and I and all of the million-plus of us in this nation, mostly we are making and buying this hemp.

So we should profit by it, and in doing so, hire cannabis activists and devotees. Someone reading this magazine right now might create a hemp store where there is not yet one. Someone who was reading this article yesterday but is thinking about it now might create one more cannabis magazine or a cannabis culture radio show (college radio where are you?). Tomorrow, someone will develop and manufacture another hemp product.

Our culture of 1,000,000 cannabis Canadians (and growing!) can support perhaps 200 serious cannabis stores across Canada. I think we shall see at least 100 by the end of this year!

Astonishing Advancements
In our 9 months in downtown Vancouver I’ve witnessed an astonishing advancement in the output quality and scope of the hemp industry. Paper quality has advanced amazingly. For example: this issue is a combination of 40%-40%-20% hemp-flax-cotton from eastern Europe, and 70%-30% hemp-cotton paper from Hungary, of a quality unknown nine months ago. A brilliantly crafted line of hemp shoes are now available from Deja Shoes. These mountain hiking boots, Oxfords, slip-ons, and other fine styles are of a sophistication and quality that was simply unimaginable nine months ago. I thought it would be years, if ever, before such products would appear on the market.

In Vancouver and elsewhere in the nation, hand-made water pipes and smoking pipes made from all kinds of materials are making a big comeback as our culture emerges from its period of great persecution.

On the internet, thousands of us meet through web sites around the globe (HEMP BC‘s web site is and on alt.hemp and other special interest groups related to cannabis. GET ON-LINE! We must be in constant and immediate communication with our freedom-fighting brothers and sisters across the globe! Sharing tactics, strategy, products, and information.

Cannabis culture stores in Canada are beginning on a revolutionary path, some selling marijuana seeds, most others selling banned hemp fabrics, clothes, banned books (suspended pending the Supreme Court), banned pipes, clips, vaporizers. All these new stores are spreading an unprecedented barrage of pro-hemp information.

Over 300 Canadian farmers have applied for industrial hemp licenses by mid-March 1995. An Agriculture Canada researcher was sponsored by the young Canadian hemp industry (HEMP BC gave $500) to attend the March 3-5 Frankfurt Hemp Expo in Germany, where an awesome array of state-of-the-art hemp products was featured.

We are a wrongly outlawed culture, viciously discriminated against for 72 years, and we are finally effectively organizing to reclaim our rightful place in society as individuals among equals. WE have a right to our culture and we must act and inform to ensure that we receive proper justice.

72 Years of Cultural Genocide
For 72 years, the Canadian cannabis culture has been subjected to what amounts to no less than cultural genocide by successive Canadian governments.

Our culture is notable in that we are aligned with a beneficial plant like cannabis. But at what cost? For 72 years, we have seen over 1,000,000 criminal convictions in government courts, ( 750,000 in the last 20 years). We have been victim of over 50,000 individual, often lengthy, jail terms.

The government seizes and destroys over a million cannabis plants each year. The state has outlawed all our magazines, barred us from buying advocacy advertisements, arrested our leaders, prohibited industrial hemp and prohibited marijuana from being used for the chronically ill.

Hundreds of Cannabis Canadians have died at the hands or guns of the police. Thousands of us have been injured in raids, busts, rallies, at the end of police truncheons (in the Vancouver Grasstown Riot, of 1971, police attacked and injured hundreds of peaceful marijuana smokers in one day!). Anyone of us can have 4 or 6 or 8 armed police officers bust into our homes at any time with automatic rifles ready to fire, all because we may have a harmless and wonderful plant in the house.

Did I also mention thousands of landed immigrants have been deported because of cannabis in the last 72 years? Did I manage to include the thousands of artists, musicians, entertainers and writers who have been barred from entering our country solely because they had a marijuana conviction? Similarly, hundreds of thousands of Canadians face restricted travel abroad because of their Canadian convictions.

A woman in Edmonton was wrenched from her family last week and sent to jail for one year for cultivating cannabis. This was her first ever conviction for anything! People have had their children taken away from them because they smoked marijuana, and the state tells our kids at school and on billboards to turn in their parents.

Silenced. Demonized. Segregated. Arrested. Jailed. Beaten. Killed.
Learn to spell and pronounce c-u-l-t-u-r-a-l g-e-n-o-c-i-d-e, because its been a Canadian tradition for 72 years, and you are the intended prey.

This is a declared war by the governments of Canada. Every day we see the state propaganda mill spew out hate directed at us with our own forced taxes. It is a one-sided war. We have not fought back. They have all the guns, all the laws, all the state power, and they have 72 years of experience at the war. They spend billions every year destroying our plants and our culture They round up and convict at least 30,000 of us each year.

Today you perhaps, or a friend; tomorrow maybe me. We never know. It just happens. More often than once every hour of every day of every year, one of us gets convicted for cannabis. Several of us get jailed every day for lengthy periods, simply because we like marijuana. No other reason.

The government added marijuana in 1923 to The Opium Act of 1908 without any health concerns inherent in the law whatsoever. The Opium Act was introduced as a purely racist measure to deport and jail Chinese-Canadians. Over 10,000 of them were deported under this Act, with thousands more jailed. Today it punishes with the same severe brand of bigotry.

Victims of this 72-year war have seen it all: police beatings, 10-year jail sentences, prison rape, loss of property, loss of job, loss of family, murder by police (sometimes over 2 joints), jail time, prohibition prices, intimidation, political hypocrisy, insanely severe judges. Its a war on us from beginning to end, and we’ve got the million victims to prove it.

Today we stand on the threshold of OUR great victories. While the state has every ferocious and dastardly advantage, the government is plagued with defections which acknowledge, in some way or another, our right to exist. Every day, another police chief, politician, doctor, coroner or lawyer comes forward to state the war on cannabis is futile. That it is counter-productive. In a few cases, you’ll even hear it whispered that this war is wrong.

Every day, we get another convert in the media, in the universities, in the business community, in political parties, in schools, in popular culture. Our old supporters are also getting vocal and militant again.

Few are joining the state’s side. Our economic infiltration advocating the beauty of marijuana & hemp becomes more unavoidably obvious: everyone is becoming aware of the many aspects of our hemp culture. We are winning the other Canadian citizens over to our side, and we have to keep the information barrage going at full tilt. Tell everyone. Tell your friends. Tell your parents. Tell your children. Tell your politicians.

End the war.

It’s Not Just a Fantasy: This is the Real Thing
Don’t believe it will happen? It will. Invest in the hemp culture. Get on the internet. Open a store. Make hemp products. Start a local hempzine. Organize a disciplined public cannabis planting this spring (be sharp and look serious for the media). Use hemp paper at school and at the office. Wear your opinion on your sleeve. Talk to your MP. Rebut ignorant prohibitionist editorials. Buy your library a subscription to this magazine. Show it to friends in school.

Please, do something. Tell us about it and we’ll share the news.


The 5 Conditions For Peace

The Canadian Cannabis Culture must demand the following five conditions to ending this 72-year old war against us.

    The legalization of cannabis, and then as quickly as possible to all other herbs and entheogens.

    NO regulatory controls on who may cultivate and distribute cannabis: marijuana, hashish, hemp and all their by-products. No government controls on the economic aspect of our culture is to be permitted. (No provincial marijuana control boards, or quotas in cultivation, no discriminatory licensing requirements for vending, etc.).

    That all Canadians convicted of any cannabis related offense are to receive a complete and unconditional pardon from the Government of Canada and to have their cannabis convictions expunged from the record.

    That all money, legal fees, a per-diem sum for each day spent in jail, property (to the 1995 value) to be restituted to all victims (or their heirs) of cannabis prosecution. Such payments to be paid for from income taxes, sales tax and GST revenue on the sale of cannabis goods and produce (in such cases as taxes are fairly applicable), thus not increasing the tax or economic burden on Canadians to rectify this outrage.

    An official apology from the Prime Minister of Canada to the effect that the government acknowledges its 72-year war on cannabis and cannabis consumers was a vicious, murderous bigotry with no legitimate health concerns whatsoever. The apology must express regret and order a cessation of this cultural genocide and admit it was a ceaseless persecution of Canadians of the cannabis culture for no valid reason whatsoever.

    To the time when we can say

Free at last, free at last,
Praise God Almighty, we are free at last.

-Rev Martin Luther King, 1963