CANNABIS CULTURE – Today is Monday, May 19th. I have exactly one month and three weeks, 51 days, to go until July 9th, when my 5-year (1,825-day) sentence officially ends after spending 1,590 days (52 months and a few days) in prison. I got 235 days of good-conduct credit for an unblemished prison record.
Alas, because I am Canadian, I receive additional punishment. Instead of being put on a plane to Canada that day, or even being given the option of buying a direct-flight airfare to Toronto from Atlanta within a day or two of my release on July 10th, I get picked up at Yazoo medium by US Immigration & Customs Enforcement. From there I will be taken to a privately-owned Immigration prison in Louisiana run by the dreaded GEO Group (whose extremely inadequate hospitality I endured from November 18th, 2010 to April 4th, 2011 at their D Ray James Immigrant prison in Folkston, Georgia), and kept there for anywhere from four to ten weeks before I am flown to Detroit with no notice and dropped off before midnight in Windsor, Ontario.
That’s the way they do it here. So even though my sentence ends July 9, I won’t get home to Canada (and out in Windsor, Ontario at that) until August, or possibly even September, and I substantially won’t know when I’ll end up in Windsor until I get there. I know all this because my Canadian cell-mate was picked up from here on December 12th last year, and did not arrive in Windsor (he’s from Abbotsford, BC!) until the first week in March – eleven weeks after US ICE picked him up from here. And he received no notice of his departure from Louisiana until one day at the GEO/ICE facility they said, “Okay, let’s go”, got him on a plane to Detroit, then they drove him to the border, and at 9:30pm he was simply dropped off there with a few dollars.
So I do not know exactly when I will be returned home after my sentence officially ends July 9th. But I do know that my wife Jodie plans to organize my friends and fellow activists, cannabis smokers, and supporters in Canada and the United States to call the Canadian consulates throughout the US (especially the ones in Dallas and Atlanta), US Immigration deportation facilities, GEO Group headquarters in Florida, and the GEO facility I’ll be sent to. If you all ask firmly but politely and frequently when I will be brought home, that may help speed things up.
Unfortunately, because I do not know when I’ll be brought to Windsor, I cannot make any specific plans. I do know that once arriving in Windsor, I will call Jodie and she will get the first flight out to Ontario from Vancouver. I am from London, Ontario originally, and that’s only two hours from Windsor, and my brother would likely come to pick me up, or friends at Vapor Central in Toronto would come to pick me up, or I’d just go to the train station the next morning and take a train to Toronto. (There is a Holiday Inn one hundred yards from the border drop-off, so I’ll go there and get Jodie to call and pay for a night for a hotel room.)
Once in Toronto, there will definitely be a party that night at Vapor Central. You are all invited. It will still cost you admission and space is limited. Maybe we can have a big party at Yonge & Dundas Square – that would be fun. The next night I’ll give a speech at Vapor Central. I’ll be doing interviews with Toronto media, walking the downtown with Jodie, buying some shoes and clothes, eating lots of great food, and reacquainting myself with Toronto. I’ll be seeing my family in London and Newmarket too.
If I don’t accept your offers to smoke pot, it’s only because it’s been four and a half years since I smoked, and I can’t get too high if I’m going to be doing interviews frequently over the first several days of being home. I’m sure I’ll get my once-familiar tolerance back in a few weeks, but until then, it’s unlikely I’ll be doing massive bong hits or dabs or any concentrated cannabinoids.
After five days in southern Ontario, Jodie and I will fly back to Vancouver for a big Vancouver party at the BCMP or the Art Gallery plaza, or both! I’ll be working at Marc & Jodie Emery’s Cannabis Culture store when I’m in Vancouver, so you can see me there five days a week from noon to 5:00pm.
If I get to Canada by August, I will be visiting cities in Alberta, Ontario, and Newfoundland in October with Jodie. We also hope to be in northern Spain as the featured speakers at The Seed Expo September 12th to 14th, as our airfare and hotel are being sponsored by the organizers. Jodie and I have never traveled together outside of Canada, so that would be a lovely opportunity for us! While we’re on the Iberian peninsula, we’ll make time to visit Barcelona for three days, and the south of France for four days, so we’ll be out of Canada from September 10th to 22nd.
But really, there is so much to be done, I really have no idea how it will go. Our travel will depend on sponsorships to get to any particular place, as neither Jodie nor I have any money to spare after four and a half years of me being in prison and unable to earn an income. So while I have desires and ambitions to go across Canada on a speaking tour, and to Europe and beyond too, that depends on what I can arrange financially.
There’s so much to do, not the least of which is earn money to pay for the many things I need and no longer have: clothes, shoes, two suits, glasses, substantial dental work (haven’t had any kind of dental care in five years), a laptop, a smartphone, a drivers exam and test to renew my expired drivers license, a comprehensive physical health exam (I have had no medical care of note in five years), and who knows what else will come up!
I also want to practice on a bass guitar each day, so I’ll have to buy one since I never played any instruments before being down here. My bass guitar tab books that I used here to learn my bass lines have already been shipped home. I’d love to be in a band and play at the BCMP lounge, but I may need to be patient about such things. With all my travel plans, it might be hard to meet a regular band practice and rehearsal schedule. All I can add to that is “I can’t wait!” I hope to see you all soon!