Marc’s Prison Blog: Coming Home Soon?

Marc and Jodie EmeryAfter a December to May that had a surprising number of cool, cloudy and rainy days, the 90F -100F (30C – 38C) sunny weather I like has been here for two weeks and is likely to stay for the next four months. Nonetheless, I hope I am not here to see all of them.

My treaty transfer application is at the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, and has been since May 9th. The DOJ rejected my earlier application on April 6th, 2011 – despite my prosecutor having no objection to my transfer and my judge recommending it – because the DEA objected to my return home to Canada. I guess they hadn’t got their pound of flesh out of me at that time. There is still no objection from my prosecutor, and Judge Martinez’s recommendation for my transfer is still included as part of my sentencing.

But as of today, Saturday, June 1st, I have 403 days remaining in my US sentence to my release date of July 9th, 2014, and even if I were to be transferred back to Canada sometime in August to October, my release in Canada wouldn’t come until mid-December to January. I expect to hear of the DOJ’s decision between June 25th and July 15th.

If they do approve my transfer, then already on the desk of the Canadian federal Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews’ desk is a single page of paper with just one line on it:

“I approve this application for transfer.
Signed, _____________________
Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety.”

I know this because Corrections Services Canada forwarded to me their 130-page package of material that was forwarded to Vic Toews’ office regarding the circumstances of my application for repatriation to Canada. The CSC report concludes by saying the Canadian public would be better served by my transfer, and acknowledges there is widespread public support for my transfer, and no cause for objection. So you’d think I should get timely approvals from both the US and Canadian governments.

If the US approves in early July, this information is forwarded to the Canadian government and the Public Safety Minister is informed that my application awaits his approval. This should be immediate, if it is to be forthcoming. I will need all Canadians who support my repatriation to contact their Member of Parliament and the Ministry of Public Safety to urge them to immediately approve my repatriation to Canada upon hearing via this blog, or on The Jodie Emery Show, or in news media throughout Canada, that the US has approved my application. (If the US DoJ rejects my application, the Canadian government position is moot and I’ll simply have to wait until July next year for my release.)

Once both governments approve my application, I will be on the move a few short weeks later on the circuitous journey from Yazoo City to the Bureau of Prisons hub in Oklahoma City and then on a series of buses to federal detention centers that may include Berlin or Hurlong, California, or Sheridan FDC in Oregon, until I get to Sea-Tac FDC near Seattle in Washington state, where this US prison journey for me started in 2010, and then to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Tacoma, Washington, where I will be transported over to Canadian Corrections personnel in BC.

That long and winding 2,800-mile (4,500-kilometer) road will take about eight weeks with all the various stops, starts and holdovers, and will be particularly uncomfortable, as a prisoner being transported is always bound in shackles on the legs and hands, and FDCs have no outside exercise or amenities that a regular prison might have. As prison life goes, it will suck. But at least I’ll be homeward bound.

Once in Canada, even though I will have served 42 months (say, on September 6th) of a 60-month sentence, I do not qualify for immediate statutory release even though if I were a Canadian convicted prisoner with a 60-month sentence, I would have qualified for day parole (as a first time federal offender) in May 2011, full parole in late November 2011, and full statutory release in July (at 40 months) of this year.

For some reason, I have to stay in prison longer than any other sentenced inmate upon my return, and when I am released after two to three months in a Canadian prison (approximately Christmas this year) I will be on parole until May 4th, 2014 (curiously, the day AFTER the Global Marijuana March), which would not at all be the case if I were sentenced to 60 months in Canada.

Yet my 60-month US sentence is supposed to revert to Canadian equivalency once I arrive in Canada, so this business of keeping me later than any other prisoner and having my parole go much longer than any Canadian prisoner with the equivalent sentence in Canada is mysterious to me. (My 60-month sentence, 1,825 days, is reduced in the US to 1,590 days – 52 months – because of a 235-day good conduct credit.

Another downside to being moved over a lengthy period of about eight weeks to get to Canada is that I will not get any visits from Jodie in that time, nor will mail or books be with me or forwarded to me. And once I arrive in the processing facility of Corrections Canada in Abbotsford (or wherever I end up), it is likely there will be no contact visits while incarcerated there either.

In a few days (on June 6th) I will be past the 75% mark of my sentence even if I don’t get transferred; I’ll have served 39 months (1,193 days) with 13 months (397 days) to go if I served every day to July 9th, 2014 in the US. If I get transferred back to Canada and released in December or January (on parole, apparently, until May 4th, 2014), I am home six months earlier, and that would be a blessing.


Marc Emery and Terry Prison Band YazooThere was some band drama in my rock n’ roll band Yazoo. Just after the photos of our band performing in the band rehearsal room appeared in my blog in late April, rhythm/lead guitarist Don had a snit and quit the band. Then Sapp, our drummer, was feeling a bit burned out after a few years in the band, and opted to go on hiatus for a while. We got very lucky in picking up a very skilled drummer, Richard Ben, a Choctaw native of Mississippi, who loves our choice of songs and in fact knows most of our songs already, and adds a dynamic that inspires our lead guitarist Terry.

I am enjoying playing with this new powerful drummer, so that really worked out well. Our other acquisition was Victor, who has been around in various bands here for the two years I’ve been here, but after having 30 or so photographs taken in the band room with this new line-up, Victor got all strange and opted out of the band only a week later. Well, we did find a replacement rhythm guitarist, Tim, 24 hours after he got off the bus that brought him here, and he is now learning our stuff and will eventually be a useful addition to the band – but its going to take him some time to get all 20 of the songs on our set list for the July 4th show, our next concert.

On Memorial Day weekend (May 25th), I did do a spontaneous live concert jam with other musicians playing bass on Red House by Jimi Hendrix, and Stormy Monday Blues by T-Bone Walker, and that was great fun (and well-received by a large audience).

Thank you to all the people who sent guitar tab books to me and my band off the wish list. These books help us develop new music, inspire us and make our days much more productive and endurable. We literally use these guitar tab books until they fall apart. I’m a more accomplished musician for all the help and contributions in sheet music, guitar and bass tab books, and music biographies that people have been kind enough to send. Wherever I had a name and address of the person who generously sent me these items, identified by the receipt or by a letter sent to me, I have sent a thank you note.

I continue to be in good health (as far as I know…) and able to scrounge up some vegetables and fruit to make myself some decent meals. I’m staying very busy. The period of scarcer visits from Jodie from March to May, due to her significant involvement in the Vancouver 4/20, the British Columbia election campaign and the Treating Yourself Expo, will be finally over in July when I see Jodie twice that month instead of once a month for much of the last six months. She’s been invited to the IdeaCity conference after speaking there last year (I was a presenter in 2001 and 2003), so we have to miss that visit in later June, which is unfortunate for me. But I’m hoping my visit from her in early August is necessarily my last visitation with my beloved at Yazoo, as I would like to be on the road home after that.

But we’ll see! Wish me luck, and better yet, get ready to write and call your Member of Parliament and the Minister of Public Safety on my behalf!


How to Help Get Marc Home

Please send a polite letter to the US Department of Justice transfer division, requesting that Canadian citizen Marc Emery be approved for transfer home to Canada from the United States federal prison system. Contact:

Paula A. Wolff, Chief
U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division
OEO, International Prisoner Transfer Program
JCK Building, 10th Floor
Washington, DC
Telephone: (202) 514-3173     
Fax: (202) 514-9003

Please send a polite letter to the Canadian Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, requesting that Canadian citizen Marc Emery be approved for transfer home to Canada from the United States federal prison system. Contact:

(Postage not required within Canada)
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0A6
Telephone: (613) 944-4875 or 1-800-830-3118
Fax: (613) 954-5186



Marc Emery
Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian cannabis activist, entrepreneur, and politician. Known to his fans as the Prince of Pot, Emery has been a notable advocate of international cannabis policy reform for decades. Marc is the founding publisher of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV.