It only takes one person to occupy a Member of Parliaments office but it helps if you have four or five people, more than that and it can be viewed as a disturbance. We managed to hold down the office in Nanaimo, B.C. with only four brave souls.
The easy part of taking this pro-active stance is you don’t need to gather 20-30 people; it only takes you and a few friends. If your friends happen to be holders of medical marijuana exemption cards, so much the better – otherwise I don’t recommend you ‘Vape-In’ or smoke weed at these protests or you might just get a ride in a cop car.
I contacted a few friends three days before the planned event and once I had four confirmed, the plan was set in motion.
We bought some bright posterboard, felt markers, masking tape at the local office supply store for making signs, and then got a bucket of ‘Sidewalk Chalk’ at the dollar store and we were off!
We gathered in the parking lot by a Tim Horton’s – not in front of the office in case they saw us coming and locked the doors. Someone had the idea that we bring ‘Tim-Bits’ as a ‘peace offering’. We entered the office as a group and while one of us presented the ‘Tim-Bits’ and announced what we were doing and asking if OUR MP would be in today, three others held signs up in the window while I took photos and phoned the media.
At first we were greeted with mild respect, the receptionist was very nice, but our MP’s executive assistant, Curtis Hansen, was not so pleasant (he’s an ex-prison guard, go figure).
We did have some discussion about marijuana, then Curtis told me that he thinks it’s OK and lets his underage teenage kids drink alcohol as long as they call him for a ride home but also thinks marijuana users should go to jail. During this time we were asked to leave the office, told we couldn’t be there, and had the police called on us to complain about “the smell of marijuana” – but in fact they were complaining about the smell of legal medicine.
After some time our Member of Parliament James Lunney showed up, he was pleased to see me…at first (I ran against him in ’04 for the Marijuana Party of Canada). We chatted for a bit and he told me that, and I quote, “marijuana is a gateway drug”. I can’t believe it!
This man is a retired doctor and should know better. He also tried to tell me that he knows all about marijuana and it has ‘benzostyryene’ in it. Huh…where did that come from?
I soon realized I was talking to an stubborn idiot about marijuana. I told him I wanted an open debate about marijuana policy in the House of Commons, and that I would debate marijuana with the Good Doctor anywhere, anytime, anyplace. He just grinned at me and then he too ‘told’ us to leave, we ‘told’ him we were staying. He was not pleased but scuttled off to his office.
Two plainclothes police officers were there to speak to everyone, and check our med cards; they were very nice to us and only explained that we couldn’t block the doorway or disturb the ability to conduct business. We told them we were there to raise awareness and EXERCISE OUR RIGHTS! The cops thanked us many times for making their job so easy and for being so well behaved.
Police often tell us at smoke-ins, 4/20 protests, and other pot-related events that they only ‘enforce’ the law; we should take up our beefs with our Members of Parliament, so don’t hesitate to mention it to police if they ask you what you think your doing in an MP’s office.
MJ-Vape has a battery powered vaporizer that he started using in the office while asking for office staff to help him with his medical exemption renewal. I rolled up joints and put FREE MARC EMERY flyers inside the conservative office leaflets and books that were on office tables. We also put up FREE MARC flyers on the windows outside and chalked up the sidewalk with pro-pot messages and “FREE MARC EMERY!”
We did get some decent media exposure – one TV reporter and two people from the paper were there as well, interviewing people, taking photos.
The media left after speaking with everyone and Lunney booked a hasty exit from the office while we stayed. The police then left and it was just the four of us and office staffers. I stepped into the parking lot to puff many joints and use my megaphone to let people know what was going on, FREE MARC EMERY PROTEST IN PROGRESS!
Curtis Hansen then thought it safe to come out of his office to complain and make disparaging remarks, then he found some of our FREE MARC EMERY flyers in the conservative books and flyers and he was pissed, mostly because he had to go through every single book looking for more. We left when we were ready later that afternoon.
Remember: act respectful, be direct, and stand your ground. You have the right to be there and you have the right to protest. MP’s offices are paid for with public funds.
Call the toll-free phone number at James Lunney’s office and tell him what you think: 1-866-390-7550.
Find out more about the ‘Free Marc’ Conservative MP Office occupations.