Farewell: The Steps of Parliament

Marijuana activist Marc Emery gives a speech on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on his Farewell Tour on July 19, 2009. (Click pictures to enlarge. Photos by Jodie Emery)Marijuana activist Marc Emery gives a speech on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on his Farewell Tour on July 19, 2009. (Click pictures to enlarge. Photos by Jodie Emery)CANNABIS CULTURE – Ottawa, July 19, 2009 – A hundred people and a baby came to listen to Marc Emery give a speech on the Ottawa leg of his Farewell To Canada Tour.

Sometime in the next ninety days he’s expected to start serving a five year prison term in the United States after facing Ricardo S. Martinez, a judge in Seattle.

He was on Parliament Hill to give a speech. He was there to hand out marching orders. His green neck tie fluttered as he moved around. He stepped into the crowd, needing no megaphone and spoke. “…and the money laundering which is the four million I gave away to wonderful things which actually included paying for the Canadian Supreme Court challenge in 2003. That was eighty five thousands dollars. It also included paying for all the global marijuana marches around the world from 1997 to 2005.

“It was an idea I had twenty years ago called, ‘Over Growing The Government.’ How can we get a political movement going in this country that is gonna be sustainable, that can move forward, be effective and that can demonstrate power? Effectiveness, and to me, money, is the lubricant of liberty. We need to find out a way to raise money.”

“If you get a marijuana conviction you will not be a banker, you can’t even be a trucker. You won’t go to a US university. You won’t go to the United States at all. You won’t get bonded. You can’t become a teacher. You can’t become a lot of things.”

“Everything our adversaries say about marijuana is a lie and a destructive one at that. This office.” Marc pointed to a wing of the Parliament Building. “This group, both the Liberal Government and the Stephen Harper government: Whenever the court’s order them to make changes they cynically respond with as little as they can and sometimes are even thwarting the will of the Courts.”

Emery pointed out some strong wins. “In twenty years we’ve made marijuana literature legal, industrial hemp legal, medical marijuana legal. Now the greatest challenge before us is to stop Bill C-15 in the Senate and make cannabis legal. Lets end marijuana prohibition.”

He illustrated a significant problem. “Eighty percent of everyone over fifty-five votes. Alas, only twenty percent of people under twenty-seven vote. So, the key disproportionality in our system is the people that vote and don’t vote, directly effecting our liberty.”

“I was called by the D.E.A., on the day of my arrest, by Attorney General Albert Gonzalez of the United States – one of the top fifty most wanted people in the world. What’s really going on? The United Nations says, ‘Canada is the largest per-capita consumer of marijuana in the Western and Industrialized world. One in every six Canadians has smoked marijuana in the last year.’ They said.”

“Human desire, honest transparent peaceful living is gonna go on whether somebody makes it against the law or not. The prohibition against marijuana is responsible for unprecedented violence in society. If we had an end to marijuana prohibition we would have zero murders linked to marijuana.”

“In Canada we’re all from somewhere else. Most of us come here to actualize our dreams, be the people we want to be and live in peace and harmony. We are the most successfully integrated country on the planet without question. If we could end the prohibition on marijuana we would be the beacon of tolerance, diversity and freedom in the world today.”

“Two million Canadians have records related to marijuana offenses. Ninety thousand more will be arrested this year alone. I’ve been arrested twenty three times, jailed seventeen times in eight out of ten provinces. In only Quebec and Prince Edward Island have I not been arrested. I’ve had a million dollars of my assets seized – all over this plant and my advocacy of it.” Applause from the rally again.

“Normally your transfer from a U.S. jail to Canada would be automatic. All Canadians convicted in the United States would get transferred back to Canada within six months to a year. Since the Conservatives, all marijuana convicts in the U.S. are refused transfer back to Canada because the Harper government says that, they are a threat to National Security!” He shook his head.

“I didn’t start smoking until I was twenty-two years old about thirty years ago now. Right after I read Ayn Rands’ Atlas Shrugged, which changed my life, I smoked marijuana and those were the two most pivotal events in my life.

He continued with more marching orders. “Why are we scorned and despised? Why are we hunted like animals? If Bill C-15 survives the vote in the Fall thousands more of us will be sent to jail. When I go to jail, you make sure Bill C-15 never passes or we’ll need new prisons. We’ll have a record number of arrests in this country. Young people will go to jail in unprecedented numbers.”

Many people stood on the steps, steps of worn stone just a few meters from the massive doors guarded by a sculpted lion, horse and owl. It bothered me that so many Members of Parliament known to be active marijuana smokers themselves should not stand up straight in The House.

While Marc continued speaking and the bells in the Peace Tower tolled several listeners had this to say.

Drew stood on the steps in front of Parliament over looking the gathering. “I think it’s bullshit that he’s going to the United States. It’s a very heartbroken moment. We’re reading the magazine Cannabis Culture and then seeing the movies about this guy and then to watch him get stripped away and say ‘bye’ to everybody. It’s really disheartening that one of the more loud people for the movement gets taken away. One of the people who you could associate with marijuana is gonna be gone and it sucks.”

“He’s a huge advocate.” said Eric also from Ottawa. “He’s just done so much for the marijuana community and cannabis culture. He continues to do so and he always will be willing to face extradition to another country for what he believes in and for this amazing herb that helps so many people and has so much potential but has so much stigma attached to it that people can’t get over it. It’s sad to see him being extradited to another country just for something that never harmed anybody and never will harm anybody.”

“I think he’s really funny.” Diana said behind her sunglasses. “He’s like another Rick Mercer. I think he’s got a point. I think the U.S. deliberately goes after small people. Look at their drug problem there. What are they going after him for? Millions of dollars for what? To get him in jail for how many years and yet they’ve got a worse problem? I think they’re just hypocrites. Marijuana should be legalized but I think it shouldn’t be uncontrolled. You don’t want people smoking pot and driving like you don’t want them drinking and driving cause there is a high there. Responsible usage. Who can believe any doctor that say it causes cancer? I feel sorry for him. I heard about him in the newspaper at first.”

“I think it’s ridiculous he’s being extradited to the United States. I think it’s horrible our Government is doing that. I think it’s great that he’s going around the country and speaking, getting the message out there for everyone who might not know.” Daniel, from Ottawa said.

“I think prohibition is one of the stupidest things going and a couple of the points he’s touched on – like prohibition is lining the pockets of criminal gangs. For me that’s one of the biggest reasons why we should get rid of prohibition. They do awful things with the money. It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to think that billions of dollars are going into criminal enterprise.” Roland spoke up from the crowds’ edge.

Sometimes a body takes a chance. It’s not even a chance, it’s just something that has to be said. In Marc Emery we have a good man. He’s come along and taken off his hat to stand in the light of day on the steps of Parliament and say some things that need to be said.

The Prince of Pot is a man of peace. Woe that we send the peace makers to jail, you know. He says what many believe and have opined themselves. I say, Marc Emery is taking a bum rap and doing our time. Let’s not waste that time. Let’s not waste Marcs’ time.

That’s the marching orders. Don’t waste Marcs’ time. Bring him back. Set our people free.