Dearest Miss: Today is Wednesday, July 13th. I’m finally under the 3-years-to-go mark, that milestone was passed last Saturday. My release date, providing I maintain my good time credit, is July 9th 2014. Only 1,091 days to go to that glorious date on my calendar.
One of the ways to lose good time credit (47-54 days), and get put in the SHU (solitary confinement) for 90 days, lose your visitation rights for a year, and phone & commissary privileges for a while too, is to fail a drug screening urine test. Today I had one of those, for the first time in 15 months in the US federal prison system. I am not concerned, because I do not drink the homemade wine/alcohol that is made and consumed by many inmates in prisons, nor have I ever smoked tobacco, marijuana or any other drug, nor consumed any drugs in any way in 15 months of incarceration.
So I am fine. But the drummer for the band that existed before mine, Laid-Back, a superb band of Brian, Grizz, Terry and Branden, was broken up because Branden tested positive for marijuana and he’s been in the SHU (Special Housing Unit – solitary confinement) for 60 days now. You don’t get to play in a band when you’re in the SHU. You get absolutely nothing’. So it impacts big time when a member of a band tests positive. That’s why Laid-Back was disbanded, and Grizz and Terry reformed with me on bass guitar and a new arrival, Damian, on drums. Our band is named STUCK (as in ‘Stuck In Prison’).
I did the five tests to qualify to receive my GED (General Educational Development) and got the highest marks in all five tests – it was posted on the board “Marc Emery – Valedictorian”. On April 1st 1975, I quit high school only three months from graduation to open City Lights Bookshop in my hometown of London, Ontario. I never have needed any high school diploma as I have been in business for myself since I was eleven. (On January 1st 1971, I started Marc’s Comic Room, a vintage comic book business by mail order and retail run out of my bedroom, and prospered. By March 1975, I decided to open a vintage, antiquarian and used book shop in the downtown of my hometown, which still operates today under different owners). But here in prison they seemed determined to have me get my grade 12 completion, so I obliged. My mother was constantly hectoring me to get my high school diploma even a decade after I became a successful bookseller in London, Ontario, so if they have a town crier in the afterworld, I hope she’s heard the news that I have finally, 36 years later, graduated high school.
When I was at D. Ray James Concentration Camp for foreigners in Folkston, Georgia, a place I still loathe the memory of, I was bitten by the most venomous spider in all the United States, a Brown Recluse spider. Often very dangerous and even sometimes fatal, this bite caused a huge swelling around the bite marks on my left buttock, and within 10 days caused a two-dollar-coin-sized hole in my buttocks that seeped blood and pus for over two weeks, finally healing completely after 45 days. Over four months later, it has left permanent scarring and a purple discoloration. It also caused me to contract MRSA, and penicillin resistant Staphylococcal infection. This is unfortunate, as MRSA is often fatal. In fact, one of the inmates in my unit at D Ray James also picked up a MRSA infection just after I did and they couldn’t control it at D Ray James, and reports from other inmates claim his leg was recently amputated and then the infection was still untreatable so he died as a result of this same bacteria I now harbor permanently in my body!
So now this is one more hazard of prohibition I have to deal with for the rest of my life, along with the stress this causes you and its potential life-shortening impact on me. If I die in prison, or because of prison-related causes, it’s imperative that all my supporters in the USA, Canada and around the world remember who was responsible for putting me in a US federal prison for peaceful, consenting activities that harmed no one and advanced a great movement. This list of villains in that case is large.
Along with this deadly bacteria I now carry permanently inside me, waiting to be activated, I have been beset by painful boils on the upper cleft of my buttocks (where the MRSA culture was extracted) and now hemorrhoids, which I have never had before. The hemorrhoids come because of pressure caused by all the hard surface seats that are in the prison. The chair in my cell, the seats in the Chow Hall and Rec area, even the toilet seat surface, all are steel, hard, and very uncomfortable. I can truly say that 2011 has been a genuine pain in the ass for me!
I must thank you, my brave wife, for getting news out about this dangerous health compromise imposed upon me by my unjust incarceration. I know that your report of my having contracted MRSA was on CBC TV news in British Columbia, CBC radio, The Vancouver Province and Sun newspapers, the Montreal Gazette, newspapers across Canada, and numerous radio stations and other media. MRSA is a deadly killer of thousands, and it certainly has the potential to make my life much shorter. Rest assured I am trying to be as cautious as possible, and eating as well as can be done, bearing in mind that there are never any fresh vegetables here and that most food is full of fats, sugars, carbohydrates, and salt. It was gratifying that Canadians still care about me and that our media in my beloved Canada still finds me newsworthy even while “out of sight, out of mind”.
As to politics, there is much to discuss. I know you have been invited to be a candidate for a seat on the Parks Board in Vancouver, running as a candidate for the Non-Partisan Association (NPA). I believe you should pursue this endeavor. You are a capable woman of intelligence and compassion. I believe the NPA has identified these attributes in you, and have vetted you and feel you would make a fine candidate in November’s Vancouver civic election. Your intelligence and reasonableness and attentive listening management style is well suited to the needs of the hundreds of thousands of citizens who use Vancouver’s numerous parks, beaches, sports grounds, the aquatic center, and those workers who maintain these properties on behalf of the people of Vancouver and British Columbia.
I also want to field as many candidate representing the BC Marijuana Party in the next BC provincial election, which could be called as early as this autumn. I feel the federal New Democratic Party (NDP) is quite good at representing the anti-prohibition cause with outstanding Members of Parliament like Libby Davies and others in Ottawa, but at the provincial level, there is no such advocacy. Though my good friend Dana Larsen made a principled, significant and ambitious attempt to make prohibition and its destructive effects on British Columbia a part of the BC NDP leadership race by running for that top spot recently, the net effect is that the BC NDP is as prohibitionist as the Liberal party, and will make no attempt to ease the harm of prohibition, nor will they make medical marijuana in BC any more lawful. The BC Green Party is completely hollow and has no gravitas to participate in the BC political scene. It has no money, no impact, no anything. So I am asking all our activists in British Columbia to consider being a BC Marijuana Party candidate in the next BC provincial election. We need up to 79 candidates, and it will be a excellent chance to participate, educate our fellow citizens, carry the cannabis legalization movement into the political sphere, where we must have a presence. I hope you will start collecting names of interested individuals. Once we determine the level of interest, in September we will begin formal campaign proceedings.
In the United States, my friends in Nebraska have been inspired to get a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana outright to the petitioning stage, which is proceeding right now. It will amend the Nebraska state constitution and is titled Proposition 19, the same as the California initiative. It is extremely concise and direct. The Initiative reads as follows:
The object of this petition is to:
The Nebraska Cannabis Initiative seeks to add Proposition XIX to the Nebraska Constitution whose object is to regulate and tax all commercial uses of cannabis, also known as marijuana, and to remove all laws regulating the private, non-commercial use of cannabis.
Proposed Constitutional Amendment language:
To add a new section 1, Article 19:
– The State of Nebraska and any subdivision thereof shall make no law regarding the private, noncommercial growing and consumption of cannabis, also known as marijuana. The Legislature shall enact fair and equitable methods of regulation and taxation regarding the commercial growing and consumption of cannabis. All laws in contravention of this section and all laws referring to marijuana in the Marijuana and Controlled Substances Tax Act are hereby declared null and void, and all marijuana convictions are set aside. The Supreme Court, within 6 months from the day of the 2012 election, shall resentence any person incarcerated or on probation for a crime involving cannabis and any pending charge for such crimes shall be dismissed.
– Nothing in this section shall be construed to conflict with the laws prohibiting persons from engaging in conduct that endangers others.
– Nothing in this section shall be construed to conflict with laws regarding the treatment of juveniles.
– If any provision of this section or the application thereof to any persons or circumstance is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect the other provisions or applications of this section that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this section are severable.
Essentially, this is a three-paragraph Proposition to legalize marijuana at the state level in Nebraska! For more information on obtaining petition forms to have filled out by citizens of the Cornhusker state, and for info on where to sign in Nebraska, get in touch with [email protected], and check out the Nebraska Cannabis Initiative Facebook group and Nebraska Cannabis Coalition profile, and Nebraska_NCC on Twitter. Approximately 112,000 valid signatures from registered voters in Nebraska will be required by July 2012 to get the legalization amendment on the Nebraska ballot. Petitioners are needed to collect signatures in Omaha, Lincoln and all areas of the state. The 112,000 number is about 10% of the registered voters in Nebraska; that’s the threshold to get this initiative on the ballot.
It is expected that Colorado and numerous other US states with a ballot initiative process will have Propositions ready for the petitioning process for the November 2012 election. Perhaps even more importantly, is where the cannabis culture’s tens of millions of individuals place their support in the upcoming Presidential contest of 2012.
Barack Obama as President has escalated the attack on dispensaries and medical marijuana states in recent weeks, threatening imminent action on the outlets in Colorado, California, Washington, and all 16 medical marijuana states and the District of Columbia. Barack Obama and his appointees as District Attorney for Western Washington and head of the Justice Department are responsible for my extradition, prosecution and conviction and incarceration in a US federal prison. The Obama Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder also refused my treaty transfer back to Canada, a transfer I fully qualified for but was denied because of my critical writings about the privately-owned concentration camp gulag that incarcerates foreigners within the US federal prison system.
No activist of conscience can possibly vote for or support the re-election of Barack Obama as President, especially when the principled Ron Paul is still a viable candidate for the Republican Party nomination. Ron Paul would end the federal drug war in its entirety, immediately. Ron Paul would withdraw the imperial armies and navies of the US from Iraq, Afghanistan, all Europe, Asia, and the middle east. Ron Paul would do everything that Barack Obama hasn’t, won’t and can’t do: balance the budget, end the warfare state, end the drug war, and restore the civil liberties lost since September 11, 2001. Ron Paul’s record in the US Congress is impeccable and he is scrupulously honest. I have supported him for many, many years as editor of Cannabis Culture, and I have campaigned for him in 2008. I support him unwaveringly. He is for a transparent government, an obedience to the intent of the Constitution, to a nation founded on inalienable civil liberties and economic liberty. He is everything Barack Obama is not.
Barack Obama is carrying out the same policies of his equally tyrannical and war mongering predecessor, George W. Bush. I urge all supporters who want to end prohibition to support Ron Paul in the primary campaigns with volunteering, donations, votes and activism. Spread the word! Ron Paul is the only Presidential option for the cannabis culture’s freedom.
As for how I spend my time, I’ve been practicing the bass guitar and rehearsing four to five hours every day, seven days a week for about 60 days now. I also read musical biographies and study music theory in any time I have where I’m not working on my skills on bass or the songs I need to learn and memorize and perform competently. I had never played a musical instrument in my life prior to picking up a guitar on May 5th. I started working on the bass beginning May 15th, and have worked exclusively on that because I was told there was a need for a bass player in the band I’m in, and that’s how I got the gig. I actually can’t believe I’m in a band, especially one made up of skilled musicians, and am enjoying this opportunity thoroughly.
STUCK had its first live concert performance on Saturday, July 2, which I wrote about to you before. Now, I am not yet at the sophistication of a skilled bass guitarist. On most songs I played the root notes of the rhythm guitar, and without any written notes to go with. I had memorized the songs and how to do my part, and the sound it made was fine, but it’s not quite the smooth, complex movement of a skilled bass guitarist yet. My fellow musicians are so good that most eyes and ears were on them, but I was very thrilled with the results.
So in the last ten days I have learned, practiced and become familiar in playing the bass lines for White Room, The Wind Cries Mary, Purple Haze, Sultans of Swing and White Rabbit. It will take a number of rehearsals in the studio to become proficient and smooth sounding, but it’s eight weeks before our next live electric and amplified outdoor concert for the guys here, which happens over the Labor Day weekend (September 3rd or 4th). Our tentative play list (and order of song play) for that gig is:
1. Sunshine of Your Love (Cream)
2. All Along the Watchtower (Hendrix)
3. White Room (Cream)
4. Breakdown (Tom Petty)
5. Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits)
6. Rocky Mountain Way (Joe Walsh)
7. Wanted: Dead or Alive (Bon Jovi)
8. Turn The Page (Bob Seger)
9. Tightrope (S R Vaughan)
10. Purple Haze (Hendrix)
11. White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
12. The Wind Cries Mary (Hendrix)
13. Red House (Hendrix)
14. Little Wing (Hendrix)
15. Voodoo Child (Hendrix)
16. My Head’s in Mississippi (ZZ Top)
17. Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love (Van Halen)
18. Johnny B. Goode ( Chuck Berry)
The other rock band here is Out of Bounds, a very polished band that does largely original material. They just finished composing and rehearsing a song they wrote called Prince of Pot. It’s about me, and was inspired when they saw Tommy Chong on CNN wearing his FREE MARC shirt. They performed it in the amplified electric studio last night and it’s superb – brilliant bass lines, lead guitar and lyrics. The band will be writing the musical notation for the entire song so it can be performed by Adam Bowen and a band at the BCMP lounge for webcast on Pot TV live streamed, as well as recorded for play on YouTube. It’s a terrific song tribute to me and I’d like to know it will be performed and heard out there. So expect to see “Prince of Pot”, the song originally written and performed by Out of Bounds.
I am finally getting to writing letters again to my correspondents. Since all my time has been going to my guitar skill building and memorizing these songs, for three weeks I have written very few letters to the wonderful people who have written me. I have resumed writing one or two letters a day, but almost all my time goes to improving my musical ability. Nonetheless, I want to thank Len Preslesnik in Holland, Michigan, for sending me a great letter every day I have been incarcerated (over 400 letters!) with news items, photocopies and clippings included. He designs brilliant and hilarious politically satirizing envelopes that his letters always come in. All of them are wild works of art.
I want to thank Barry Cooper for sending me the final draft of the Hollywood movie that is being made about him! Candi And Barry Cooper put money in my commissary account every month too, which is so sweet. Thanks to Tony Glickney for buying my ZZ Top autographed guitar and putting that money in my commissary account monthly. You, Dana Larsen, and Rebecca Maverick have sent me dozens of music books, guitar song books, magazine subscriptions and it’s been heaven-sent for this budding musician getting those great items.
Thanks for everything you do, my sweet wife.
I’m so grateful for your love and support!
MARC EMERY #40252-086
FCI YAZOO CITY – MEDIUM E-1
P.O. BOX 5888
YAZOO CITY, MS