CANNABIS CULTURE – Hundreds of protesters gathered in Vancouver on Saturday as part of ‘The Worldwide Rally for the Prince of Pot’, a global rally held in over 100 cities to demand freedom for marijuana activist Marc Emery.
Nearly 1000 people gathered at the Vancouver Art Gallery on September 19 to say goodbye to Emery in person, before he’s sent to prison in the United States for selling marijuana seeds over the Internet. Several of Vancouver’s most prominent marijuana activists appeared at the rally, giving rousing speeches in support of Emery and calling for an end to drug prohibition.
On the same day, rallies were held at multiple locations around the world, in many major cities in Canada and the US, and countries including Germany, South Africa, Denmark, Ireland, Austria, Peru, Norway and the UK. Click here to see photos, articles, and videos from rallies all over the world.
“There are thousands [attending rallies]around the world today, said Greg Williams, one of Emery’s co-accused who was recently sentenced to two years probation by an American court. “Think about that as you stand here and look at a man who has done a great deal for not only the marijuana community, but the community at large.”
Speakers commended Emery for his many years as an influential activist and his tireless campaigns for individual rights and freedoms. Emery used millions of dollars in profits from his successful seed company to fund many of the major marijuana and hemp campaigns in North America, which undoubtedly had a direct effect on the successes of the movement, including the legalization of medical marijuana in Canada and some US states.
Protesters also criticized both the American and Canadian governments for an arrest and imprisonment they see as unjust and politicly motivated.
“They still want to put Marc in jail for five years for selling a substance that didn’t hurt anyone,” Williams told the crowd. “It didn’t hurt anyone, and that should be the bottom line when it comes to freedom and rights.”
“The only reason they are going after Marc is because he is a successful activist that was actually making a real difference,” a man in the crowd named Eddy told Cannabis Culture. “There are lots of other people selling seeds, but the government doesn’t seem to care about them. […] I came here today to tell those Conservative bastards that it is wrong to put a Canadian citizen behind bars in the States.”
The crowd was a melting pot of the young and old, and of all genders, races, shapes and sizes. Protesters held signs and placards reading “No Prison For Pot” and “Let our people grow!”, and broke into chants of “Free Marc Emery” several times throughout the sunny afternoon.
“A long time ago in history, the cannabis plant was the most important plant on the planet,” Williams said. “It grew the fibers to make the sails, the food, the clothes, the everything. In fact, countries went to war over who could have it. Now, they’ve gone to war on that very plant.”
“Basically, cannabis is the best fuel crop and the best medicine,” activist David Malmo-Levine shouted to the crowd while passing around a giant fake joint, “and the people who have the most to do with making cannabis illegal, are fuel and medicine salesman. It’s corporations in the United States that make the most money from cannabis being illegal. […] We are fighting the US takeover of Canada and resisting their oppression.”
“They’ve only done this for one reason, and that’s money,” Williams said. “It’s filled the pockets of the prohibitionist movement. We hear about all of the billions of dollars spent every year on prohibition, but you’ve got to think: it’s going into somebody’s pocket. Now who would those people be? The only organization [that supports prohibition in Canada]are the police. They are the only organization that thinks marijuana should be illegal. What the hell is going on here, that the police should decide what’s legal and what’s not? Well they shouldn’t.”
“The reason I’m being punished, is because I’ve been effective […] because of all the good work we’ve been able to do,” he told hundreds of protesters who gathered around him as he spoke. “And you can do it too. I was just one person telling thousands and thousands of other people, and that’s what you can do. I don’t have any special talent. I came here in 1994 and I was broke and penniless and sold banned books and magazines about marijuana on the street to strangers, and eventually we were able to build up an empire where we supplied 60 stores in one year. Now there’s hundreds of stores – we’ve got a vibrant cannabis culture.”
Emery railed against Stephen Harper and the Conservative party, who have recently turned down US prisoner transfers for Canadians convicted of drug crimes on the basis that they may be a threat to National Security.
“Transfers from the United States were automatic before the Conservative government got in,” Emery said, “and now they are not transferring the weed prisoners, they’re leaving them in the United States. Vote for the NDP, the Greens, the Liberals, or even the Bloc, but you’ve got to get up and vote against the Conservative government. […] If you bring me back to Canada, I could be out in ten months.”
Marc’s wife Jodie Emery, a Green Party candidate and editor of CC, gave a touching speech pleading for supporters to send letters to the judge in Marc’s case and continue to pressure the government for his release. Jodie also made clear to the crowd that Marc’s empire will live on in his absence – with his Vancouver businesses, including Cannabis Culture and Pot-TV continuing uninterrupted under her management.
“Marc’s store, Cannabis Culture Headquarters (at 307 W. Hastings), will still be open,” Jodie said. “The BC Marijuana Party offices, where you can come and meet like-minded people and discuss ending the drug war while using a medical grade vaporizer – that’s still going to be open. We need you to come down and support our place so Marc knows that we’re all still here, nothing has changed, they haven’t shut us down.”
“What we have here in Vancouver is very special and very unique, and we don’t want to lose this,” activist and former CC editor Dana Larsen told the crowd. “We want to grow this, so it encompasses our whole city, our whole country, our whole continent, until marijuana is free to grow in every city and town and hamlet across the face of the earth.”
Emery is due to be taken into custody by authorities in less than a week, on September 28, 2009.
‘The Worldwide Rally for the Prince of Pot’ was organized by Cannabis Culture and WhyProhibition.ca.
See the full photo gallery on Flickr.