Disturbing day in Vansterdam

Flash was hiding out around the corner in the Pot-TV studios. He had just brought in some comedy clips off the TV but the mood in the studios was serious.
Marc Emery was on the phone with Chris Bennett calling from the Saskatoon jail. He has the top bunk in his dorm of six which is thirty-three inches wide, metal with a one and a half inch thick mattress. Even though he is no threat to public safety, and requires no training or rehabilitation, he doesn’t qualify for any release earlier than scheduled October 18th release – sixty-two days of incarceration. The sentence was ninety-two days, but he gets one third off in ‘remission days’ if he doesn’t create problems and does all the jobs assigned to him. Alvin, his case worker said “in my many years here I have never had anyone like you.” Meaning Marc’s his first obvious ‘political prisoner’ who has no remorse for his actions and whose activities will continue. He doesn’t need to be “rehabilitated” and “too high-profile” to be let out on a work gang which he was looking forward to as a chance to get some air. Alvan said “the media and persons in the community will try to interview you and communicate with you.” Some inmates tried calling him “Princess” and the homophobic jokes never stop. He also knows of stabbings that do take place but up until now at least he has steered clear of trouble and empathizes with his cell mates. He even refused any offer of a toke he’s been given.

Marc has taken to scrubbing the “filthy” floors on his hands and knees, refusing to live in filth. Some of the inmates call him “Cinderella” for his attempts but do appear to appreciate his efforts. He told Chris he’d like something to read. Chris said he would send a King James Bible and a copy of his book “Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible.” Flash decided then and there to clean up his posts listed under Artistic Inspirations on the Cannabis Culture forums and send them to Marc as soon as possible, knowing that Marc will be cheered by them.

The next 36 hours were a haze as Flash struggled to edit out spelling errors and add paragraphing, collecting as many stories as he could into a 250 page manuscript.

It took a lot of ink to print it by hand and time to put sticky’s around the punched holes and secure it in a binder complete with colour photos of Marc’s friends and admirers. Still incomplete, with many errors, Flash had a photocopy made of it and took the bundle downtown to BCMP headquarters to intrust to Marc’s efficient executive assistant Michelle who’s been keeping “it all together” as of late, offering comfort and encouragement to all in Marc’s stead. The usually cheerful outgoing bookshop girls have been looking a bit glum as of late. Their eyes welling with tears when they’ve had the opportunity to speak briefly with the Prince in his exile.

They say he no longer sounds “laid back” on the phone and is extremely serious making precise requests. Flash had to wait an hour until Michelle arrived so took his most recent stories up to the Cannabis Culture art office and Dana Larsen helped him photocopy them for their records. Flash showed Dana his manuscript and Dana warned him that he had tried to bring into Marc some of the replies on the forums and the guards had refused him on the grounds that it was inappropriate material. Flash was reminded of the movie “Before Night Falls” a story of a writer in a Spanish jail who smuggled his manuscripts out in a transvestites rear becoming so famous for his works that the people clamored for his release. He ran the idea past Marijuana Man who labeled it as TMI (Too Much Information). Chris Bennet also had advice. The binder I was hard enough it could be used as a weapon so it might be necessary to take out of it’s binder. It was almost 6:00 PM closing time for B.C. Marijuana party headquarters. Flash had his chance for five minutes with Michelle. Michelle did her best to explain to Flash that Marc was very limited as to what he was allowed to receive and could only receive visitors on Saturdays and there were only so many Saturdays left to reach him. Perhaps it would make a nice gift once he is released. She could see Flash put a lot of work into it. “But, but, Michelle,” Flash started top blubber and whine. “Marc NEEDS IT NOW NOT WHEN HE GETS OUT! For God’s sake he’s reading the old testament and Malcolm X! He NEEDS to read something about his friends who love him and whom he loves. He needs it to help cheer him up!” Flash hadn’t expected it to happen but his eyes too were now filled with tears and he choked on his words. “Ok Flash, Ok,” Michelle consoled him. “I see how much this means to you and I will TRY to get it in to him on Saturday,” she assured him. Flash could no longer speak but gave Michelle a hard hug and went out back to the zen garden to smoke a cig and gain his composure meditating on colonel Sanders sharing a dragon faced window basket with a friendly hunch-backed troll.

The weepiness was hard to shake even after he had gone through the front doors to catch his bus. Flash figured the best thing for it would be to bus it to Da Kine Caf? go cry on Carol’s shoulder and right himself with a hoot of Budder or two. When he arrived he forgot about his tears but for another reason. Camped outside of the front door was several members of the local media. Apparently CTV had been by to do an exclusive story on the opening of the “Amsterdam style” caf? that had broadcast at 6p.m.. In the story they had gone to city hall and to the police and both denied knowing of the existence of the caf? in spite of the fact that Carol had insisted they did. Now C.B.C., Global and C.T.V. were outside and there was rumors the police would visit. Carol, having not seen the 6:00 PM report, had chosen to close the caf? for the day until she could assess the fall out.

After the brief interview she had made herself scarce and Flash was left standing outside with the assembled media who were wonder WTF? was going on. Flash had told Carol that he would gladly be a spokesman as one of the first members of the club and first pot-arazzi to report on it. He answered the reporters questions and gave them some excellent sound bites about how da kine had raised its head above the crowd and were being persecuted for that while other under the table operations go unchecked. That the product they offered was of high quality and reasonably priced and available to those who stated they were “in need.” David Malmo Levine also happened by at that time and told the news hungry reporters that “Vancouver is responsible enough and ready for a Amsterdam style caf?.” The next day the press filmed Carol opening the caf? and David stayed all day and the press came and went again. The late news on CTV had improved now the acting Mayor Jim Green was saying that they would look at the caf? from the view of the “four pillar approach” of which only one pillar is Enforcement and another ‘Harm Reduction.’ Tim louis another councillor similarly stated when contacted a forum member by email: “I have no problem with leaving this caf? open for business.”

The police when interviewed again as story broke admitted they knew of the caf?’s operations and that it was “not a priority at this time” and preferred to leave the issue of the caf?’s business licence in the hands of city hall. The volunteer president of the local Britannia Park Community Police station was the most vehement in her disapproval and had tried to block caf? opening before, but wiser heads prevailed one local resident, her same age, pointed out the obvious, which was that street dealing in the park had almost been eliminated with the advent of this new outlet nearby. They may get more stringent in asking clients their medical need (be it jet lag, stress relief or nausea and appetite for HIV) they may even have a notary public on site to take peoples sworn statement of need, but the Caf? will remain open and continue to a middle ground and cutting edge for the anti-prohibition, legalization movement in Vancouver B.C.