My good friend and former boss Marc Emery was sentenced to a 5-year prison term by a US judge earlier this month. On September 18, thousands of people from more than 100 cities around the world showed their support for Marc by staging worldwide rallies, marching through the streets, dropping banners from bridges and buildings and holding “Google Marc Emery” signs at busy intersections.
Supporters from provinces and states across Canada and the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Australia and even China protested the government’s treatment of the Prince of Pot and called for his return home to Canada. Click here for a map of all registered locations.
Here in Vancouver, we gathered at the Victory Square war memorial at the crossing of Cambie and Hastings streets, on the Pot Block, right across the street from Cannabis Culture Headquarters. CCHQ is the location where Emery made a name for himself as a marijuana activist – selling seeds and establishing a busy head shop, successful pot magazine and online video network and using the using the profits to support legalization efforts around the world.
Go to Cannabis Culture’s Flickr Gallery.
As the crowd began to gather, organizers Jacob Hunter and Nicole Seguin handed out signs and flags and gave interviews to members of the media. Rally MC David Malmo-Levine, a long-time friend and protege of Marc, addressed the crowd with no bullhorn or microphone. In a booming voice and with his trademark humor, DML gave the audience a short history lesson on Marc Emery and his remarkable activism efforts.
“I got here in 1995 when Marc Emery flew me out from Edmonton to rabble rouse and disturbed the poop and get things going in this town,” David told the crowd. “He had already gotten things going quite a bit with Hemp BC, which was located right on this side of Hastings Street. When I got here, I could not believe what I had seen. For the first time, people were smoking pot indoors in a business, every day, all day, without fear.
“The Vancouver police had just announced a no bust policy – that they were going to put cannabis on their lowest priority – that you really had to blow smoke in their face in order to get arrested in this town. It was a beachhead of dignity in a sea of oppression, and Marc Emery took full advantage of that.
“Hemp BC became one of the loudest and proudest marijuana communities on planet earth. Marc Emery got on the front cover of The Washington Post, and CNN and almost every media covered us. We send out the message that we are just as legitimate as the coffee Bean enjoyers and the alcohol enjoyers and the people who enjoyed chocolate. We’re just like every other drug user. We deserve dignity, freedom, and respect.”
About an hour into the rally a group of over 50 protestors took to the streets, marching down the sidewalk of Cambie street into downtown Vancouver. The loud chants, homemade signs, and bright pot-leaf Canada flags attracted the attention of hundreds walking and driving by. Every few seconds a driver would honk his car horn and someone would shout “Free Marc Emery” from the rolled-down window. It is always obvious at Vancouver pot rallies and marches that Vancouver has a lot of love for its Prince, and for good reason. Marc’s tireless work to Overgrow the Government has helped to make Vancouver famous around the world for its relaxed attitude to marijuana.
Marchers criss-crossed their way through the downtown streets past many popular stores and public locations, including the Vancouver Public Library. Hearing the chants, CBC employees rushed outside with cameras and microphones pointed at the crowd. Several citizens joined the parade as it passed and joined the protesters in handing out informational flyers to other Saturday shoppers.
Several Vancouver Police squad cars escorted the long train of protesters from start to finish, and officers looked yawningly in the other direction as joint after joint was passed through the crowd.
Watch on YouTube
Rally organizer Jacob Hunter was obviously pleased with the impressive numbers – over 100 rallies around the globe in support of one man is nothing to cough at.
“The rallies, the largest to date, represent both the international nature of Marc’s activism and the determination of the cannabis culture,” he told me after the rally.
Sizes of rallies varied from a few to a few hundred, and some creative activists found new ways to spread the message.
In Shenzhen, China, Canadian founder of Kush.ca, The WeedGuy, displayed his giant balls of steel when he dropped a 4.5m x 3.1m FREE MARC banner from the window of his apartment building above a busy intersection. Luckily, he didn’t have any problems with Chinese authorities or angry neighbors.
Watch on YouTube
Chris Goodwin, Matt Mernagh, Davin Christensen and the Toronto Hash Mob handed out 1000 FREE MARC water bottles designed by the creative geniuses at Pixel Dreams digital agency, as they marched through the streets with protestors carrying signs and waving flags.
“You can’t get people to accept a handbill, but they’ll gladly take a free gift,” Mernagh wrote in a blog post about the Toronto event. “This stunt worked marvelous.”
Check out the amazing website and photo galleries documenting this cool experiment.
Watch on YouTube
United States Marijuana Party founder Loretta Nall and other activists retraced the steps of the historic Civil Rights March up Dexter Ave. in Montgomery, Alabama.
Watch on YouTube
It was all an amazing show of support and is one more reason I’m convinced that the horrors of cannabis prohibition, like the horrors of alcohol prohibition, will soon be a thing of the past. Everywhere, increasing numbers of people are growing tired of seeing so many lives ruined over the consumption of a plant.
Free Marc Emery and free all the prisoners of the drug war.
Hundreds of photos and videos from the rallies can be found through this link at Cannabis Culture. Visit FreeMarc.ca to find out more about Marc Emery and how to help pressure the government to bring him home to Canada.