The Shotgun Blog
Friday, August 13, 2010
Marc Emery's U.S. federal prison blog #10
We're going to start posting Marc Emery's prison blog on a regular basis. All of these originally appear on the Cannabis Culture website. If you don't know about Marc Emery and his situation, you can check out Paul McKeever's exceptional documentary about Emery entitled "The Principle of Pot" here and here.
Here is Emery's tenth prison blog, unedited:
Today I was told I would get less time on the computer to send and read emails because there was griping by some of the inmates about my use. Admittedly, it is about 3 hours a day, but I line up like everyone else and there are others that use it even more frequently and for longer times than I. It seems I have aroused some to complain. So my use will be in the early morning, in the afternoon around 4:30 pm, and at night, for less time in total.
I will have a hard time finding the time to type & email out the chapters of the proposed book I'm writing, so I may have to just send you my notes in long hand, which is how I do my first draft anyway. I'll just edit it and rewrite the second draft more neatly and forward it along to you by mail rather than using up valuable computer time. The chapters are much longer than my editor specified, but there's so much to tell that I thought I'd put it down and leave it for you and him to edit. It's better to have too much information as opposed to too little.
The first chapter deals with my first album purchase when I was 14 (up to then I bought 45 rpm single songs), which was Cheech & Chong's BIG BAMBU album. I memorized that album, finding their voices mocking, exaggerated and subversive. I really thought marijuana smoking was a comedic form of social rebellion. I was a teenager who found my obsession with Marvel Comic books as gratifying a mind changer as I could imagine, along with my comic book business called "Marc's Comic Room" (named so because I sold the comics originally from my bedroom in my parents house from 1971 to 1975, when I was aged 12 to 16) and my budding love of science-fiction, I had no concept of the need for "drugs" or marijuana.
Then I jump to 1979 whereupon I discover Ayn Rand and the tremendous life-changing effect on my life, and how that happened. Then to December 21, 1980 when I meet Sandra, and I discover the joy of a cannabis high while falling in love with her that night. Then we jump to 1991 when I sponsor a spoken word performer (and former front man for the punk band Dead Kennedys) to perform his new CD "I Blow Minds For A living" at Centennial Hall in London, Ontario.
I had found out about Jello Biafra while doing my radio show on CHRW called "Radio Free Speech: Revolution Through Rock & Rap", and got together $5,000 to pay him his fee (of $3,000) and to rent the Hall for a night ($2,000 with sound equipment). We sold 420 tickets at $10 each, so I only lost about $1,000. In that performance of his then-current CD, there was a 15-minute segment called "Grow More Pot" about this book, by a guy named Jack Herer, called the Emperor Wears No Clothes. Biafra spoke about this conspiracy to suppress the history of the hemp plant and its incredible history in the world, and particularly Canada and the USA; that George Washington was America's biggest cannabis farmer ever; that the Declaration of Independence was written on cannabis hemp paper, and it was mandatory to be grown in the early colonies, and in World War 2, the US Department of Agriculture urged farmers to GROW HEMP FOR VICTORY.
After his performance, I found out the book was banned in Canada, and all magazines and books about marijuana and drugs were, in fact, banned and had been banned for 4 years, since 1987. So I vowed to break the ban by selling these books and magazines over the next 10 months. I don't get charged (unlike when I opened my store illegally on Sundays), even though I took out ads announcing my plans and sold copies in front of the police station, but I do end up bringing Jack Herer, Steve Hager, Ed Rosenthal & Paul Mavrides to London to autograph and speak about their work.
I got frustrated with everything after so many campaigns and so little change, so in July 1992 I moved to Asia with my partner Deb, and her two kids Jordon & Jeremy. While in Asia I saw in a government-banned newspaper an article about the Conservative leadership convention between Jean Charest & Kim Campbell. It came up that they both had smoked pot. This is the only article about Canada I saw in Asia in two years, and it’s all about how pot is very common in this place called the "lower mainland of British Columbia". Piquing my interest, I joked, "If we ever go broke here, we'll have to go to BC and set up some kind of hemp revolution business." I laughed at the thought of going broke, as if it would never happen, but the idea keeps evolving in my head anyway.
8 months later, I really was nearly broke after foolishly spending $30,000 building a dream chalet on the side of this magnificent lake, Lake Maninjau, in West Sumatra, Indonesia. I got completely defrauded of my money, the house was built – a spectacular place, but I never spent a day inside it after completion, as the property owners rented it out to wealthy tourists and I was bollocksed. Crying in despair one day when my money situation got critical, I announced, pulling my head up out of my tear-strewn hands, that we are going to Vancouver to begin this hemp revolution business.
Once I arrived, I quickly got to work in this unfamiliar new city of Vancouver that I did not know. I sold “High Times” magazines and the book “Grow yer own Stone” door-to-door on the street to raise money, beginning April 11, 1994, and by July 7, 1994, I opened "HEMP BC: the Marijuana & Hemp Center for Greater Vancouver", as my first storefront sign read.
That’s the summary of the first chapter. So I'll finish the first draft tonight, and then try to re-write it as neatly as possible by hand and mail it to you. Hopefully these issues of time use on the computer can be dealt with. If I do need more time, there are very few people wanting to use it at 8 am in the morning, when most inmates (including me) are still sleeping, but I may have to rearrange my schedule and perhaps type up my chapters in that period when there is little pressure to use the email.
I am in good health, my sweetheart, and I am working on my letters, books, and currently reading God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens, back to back with Robert Crumb's illustrated Book of Genesis, from the Bible. The Bible is total fairy tale nonsense, albeit nicely illustrated by Crumb, but that any sentient human can find value in such a story is beyond belief – or rather it IS belief. Religion is strange stuff indeed.
I am gratified by all your great work on my behalf, and thank you for all the time you spend on my FREE MARC campaign. Without you, I would surely be so demoralized, as this is a hard place to be. I look forward to calling you tonight and especially your visit this Saturday, the highlight of my difficult existence here.
I love you immensely and long for the time when I am back at your side, as I ought to be and deserve to be. Hopefully people are writing the Minister of Public Safety and urging friends and relatives of theirs to do so also. I need thousands of letters on my behalf to flood the Minister: “Please repatriate Marc Emery at your earliest opportunity.”
I am very gratified that the opinion writers and editorialists of every stripe are condemning the escalating Conservative attempts to fill the prisons and expand the prisons. We need an election immediately and I hope you are doing your best to urge one in your writings and comments. It is essential we change governments. The country is being dragged, by the Tories, into a dark place of punishment and intolerance and irrationality because theocratic fundamentalist Christians have the government in its grip. People should read The Armageddon Factor, Harper’s Team and Sheeple to find out how bad it’s gotten.
I Love You so much, and goodbye for now,
Your devoted and grateful husband,
Note: As always, anonymous, annoying, and abusive comments may be deleted.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
(Video) Part II of Marc Emery documentary, "The Principle of Pot," released today
Paul McKeever, lawyer and leader of the Freedom Party of Ontario, released the second part of his two-part documentary about libertarian publisher and marijuana activist Marc Emery today. The documentary, entitled "The Principle of Pot," argues that Marc Emery, who is facing extradition to face a five-year prison term for selling marijuana seeds over the internet, should not be extradited. McKeever argues that extraditing Emery would violate Canadian law.
The first part of the documentary was released in January of this year. We covered that release here. The documentary is outstanding (all parts are embedded below the fold).
Here is the press release announcing the documentary:
Ontario lawyer Paul McKeever today released the second part of his two-part documentary about the Canadian "Prince of Pot", Marc Emery. Titled "The Principle of Pot", the release of Part 2 is timed to precede and to inform a decision by Canada's federal Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, about whether or not to approve the extradition of Emery to the United States. If extradited, Emery faces five years of imprisonment in the USA for having sold cannabis seeds. Emery mailed seeds to Americans from Vancouver, Canada, via Canada Post. The Minister's decision is expected by May 10, 2010.
McKeever opposes Emery's extradition, and says extraditing Emery would be a violation of Canada's Extradition Act. "Anyone who watches Part 2 of The Principle of Pot will clearly understand that the USA is seeking Emery's extradition because of the political nature of his cannabis seed campaign", says McKeever. "In my view, even if someone were somehow to doubt that the USA seeks to imprison Emery because of his political influence, Emery's political beliefs and conduct would at the very least result in him being prejudiced in any American court. In either case, the Extradition Act prohibits the Justice Minister from extraditing Emery, and I explain that more fully in The Principle of Pot (Part 2)."
Emery's opponents, and the U.S. authorities who demanded his arrest in Halifax, have attempted to portray Emery as a profit-motivated drug dealer. "The Principle of Pot" demonstrates that Marc Emery was at all times carrying out political campaigns. Part 1 of McKeever's documentary demonstrated that Emery was an individual freedom activist long before getting involved in the marijuana legalization issue. Part 2 goes deep into Emery's marijuana-related activism, explains the surprising origins of his involvement in the marijuana legalization issue, uncovers Emery's widely misunderstood goal, and a gives a rare and revealing look at his behind-the-scenes master strategy and tactics.
Here is the first segment of the second part of the documentary (the remaining parts are below the fold):
NOTE: Anonymous and overly abusive comments may be deleted at the discretion of the author of this post.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Conservative, Liberal, and NDP MPs present petitions against the extradition of Marc Emery
Yesterday, MPs Scott Reid (Conservative), Libby Davies (NDP), and Ujjal Dosanjh (Liberal) presented 12,000 petition signatures to the House of Commons insisting that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson should not sign a U.S. extradition request of libertarian publisher and cannabis activist Marc Emery.
Emery, dubbed the "Prince of Pot" by U.S. media, is facing five years in the U.S. on charges related to his selling marijuana seeds to U.S. citizens.
Scott Reid emphasized the fact that, in Canada, judges have consistently ruled that a justified penalty for selling marijuana seeds is a $200 fine. The same crime could result in a sentence of up to life in prison. The extradition treaty with the U.S. includes a provision that refers to punishments that would "shock the conscience" of the average Canadian as a valid, legal reason to refuse an extradition request.
Reid said that it is within the prerogative of the justice minister to "refuse to surrender a person when that surrender could involve unjust or undue or oppressive actions by the country to which he is being extradited."
Reid also emphasized the fact that Health Canada, a government agency, urged Canadians with permission to use medical marijuana, to purchase seeds from Marc Emery if they found government marijuana to be of insufficient quality.
Libby Davies, meanwhile, added that extraditing Emery appears to be in tension with our sovereignty. "People don't understand why Marc Emery should be extradited," she said in the House. "He was never prosecuted in Canada for these crimes, and I think people see it as a question of Canadian sovereignty."
Ujjal Dosanjh echoed the sentiments of Reid and Davies, adding that, in his opinion, there was "inherent unfairness" in the process that might result in Emery being extradited to the U.S.
Here is a video of the three MPs putting forward the petitions:
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Tories hide behind “national security” to deny access to information request: Marc Emery update
Canadian libertarian publisher and activist Marc Emery faces extradition to the U.S. on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. While Justice Minister Rob Nicholson could refuse the U.S. extradition request, he is expected to approve the extradition anytime after January 8th, according to Jacob Hunter, Policy Director with Beyond Prohibition Foundation.
Nicholson has ignored the pleas of Canadians to charge Emery in Canada for his so-called crime of selling marijuana seeds. This move would assert Canadian sovereignty over drug policy and likely lead to a legal outcome that would better reflect Canadian attitudes toward marijuana prohibition.
Emery is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine, leader of the BC Marijuana Party and owner of the now-defunct Marc Emery Seeds, an online marijuana seed retailer, the profits from which financed much of international movement to liberalize marijuana laws before his arrest.
In late 2009, Emery signed a plea deal for a 5-year sentence in the U.S. prison system.
“I was forced to take this plea deal for five years under great duress,” said Emery.
"If I went to trial in the United States, I would have received a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years up to life. I shouldn’t be going to prison at all for selling seeds to consenting adults, but five years is preferable to a life sentence,” continued Emery.
Emery was taken into Canadian custody in September 2009 after an extradition hearing in the B.C. Supreme Court, and is currently free on bail awaiting Nicholson’s decision.
Emery’s wife, Jodie Emery, believes her husband should be dealt with in Canada and not the USA.
“Most Canadians agree that Marc should be dealt with in Canada’s justice system. He operated openly in Vancouver, B.C. for over a decade, never went to the U.S.A., and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in income taxes,” said Jodie Emery.
“The Justice Minister has received tens of thousands of phone calls, letters, post cards and petitions asking him to refuse the extradition. There is no reason my husband should suffer for five years in a foreign prison system, especially when he operated his seed business in Canada at all times,” she continued.
Emery’s lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, made an access to information and privacy (ATIP) request for Justice Department communications related to Emery’s arrest for extradition. After long delays, approximately 60 pages of a 6,000-page document were released with everything blacked out for various “national security” reasons.
Libby Davies, Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, made an Order Paper request in parliament for similar documents, but was also refused any information.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Monday, November 30, 2009
Marc Emery vs. Roman Polanski: A tale of two extraditions
Canadian libertarian publisher and activist Marc Emery faces extradition to the U.S. on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. Movie director Roman Polanski faces extradition to the U.S. on charges related to drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl. While the Canadian government refuses to protect its own peaceful, productive natural-born citizen from extradition, Polanski’s adopted country of France is fighting to keep this confessed sex offender from facing the U.S. justice system.
In a Western Standard column entitled “Marc Emery vs. Roman Polanski: A tale of two extraditions,” Peter Jaworski and Michael Wagner compare the two very different extradition cases.
...Polanski committed a heinous crime. Raping a child is clearly execrable and leaves a very identifiable victim. Selling marijuana seeds isn’t obviously a crime, and is only made to be one through legislation. Furthermore, there were no “victims” of Emery’s crime. No one claims to have been harmed by him, and no one has urged the government to punish him. Canadians, for the most part, find him interesting, admirable, and entertaining. They do not think of him as someone deserving a stint in a prison.
Polanski was actually in the U.S. when he committed his crime, whereas Emery was always in Canada. Polanski can be sent back to the place where he perpetrated his crime. Emery can’t be sent “back” to the U.S. because he wasn’t there in the first place. Polanski was a fugitive from justice, but Emery did not run away from anyone and operated his marijuana seed business openly and transparently. Emery even paid income taxes from being a "marijuana seed vendor," an occupation he volunteered on his tax forms.
Metro Vancouver reported on November 18, 2009 that Marc Emery would be paroled after he promise to surrender to U.S. custody within 72 hours after an extradition order is signed, which could happen as soon as Dec. 1. (h/t to Norm Smith)
MSNBC is reporting Monday that Polanski remains in a Swiss jail despite expectations that he would be released on bail under house arrest. It is believed that Polanski remains in jail because has not yet met his full bail payment of $4.5 million.
Continue reading "Marc Emery vs. Roman Polanski: A tale of two extraditions" here.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Seeds of Liberty: The Marc Emery Story (Michael Wagner)
On November 8, 2009, I announced that the Western Standard has commissioned two writers to co-author a full-length book on the life and work of Canadian publisher and libertarian activist Marc Emery.
Western Standard readers will know that Emery, #3 on the Western Standard’s Liberty 100 list of Canadians who have made contributions to either economic or personal liberty, is currently being held in a B.C. prison awaiting extradition to a U.S. prison on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. (You can learn more about his case here.)
In my post on November 8th, I shared with readers the outline for the book, which has been completed in draft form.
Today, I would like to share the name of one of the co-authors of the book: Dr. Michael Wagner.
Michael Wagner is the author of Standing on Guard for Thee: The Past, Present and Future of Canada’s Christian Right and Alberta: Separatism Then and Now. He has a PhD in Political Science from the University of Alberta and lives in Edmonton with his wife and nine children.
Wagner is not a libertarian, but took the #75 spot on the Liberty 100 for his research in the area of private education and homeschooling in Alberta, and for his defence of religious freedom in Standing on Guard for Thee.
Wagner has been a Western Standard newsmaker. You can read about him here, here, here and here.
Since Wagner is not a libertarian, it begs the question: Why would he be chosen to co-author the Marc Emery story?
There are several good reasons for this:
1. Wagner is an excellent researcher and a clear and effective writer, something he has demonstrated with both his published books.
2. He was able to tackle the Marc Emery story objectively and impartially, without the passion that might have distracted another author from the story.
3. Wagner is a social conservative who is respectful of, and familiar with, libertarian ideas – ideas that continue to motivate Marc Emery’s political activism and business interests – and is interested in the “interface between conservative and libertarian ideas,” as he puts it in his preface to the book.
Wagner has done an excellent job documenting the complete Marc Emery story, but the libertarian tone and sympathetic treatment of Emery in the book is largely the responsibility of his co-author, whose name will be released shortly.
Below is Wagner’s preface to the book, but please keep in mind that book has yet to go through the copy editing stage:
This isn't the kind of book I would have decided to write on my own initiative. That credit must go to Matthew Johnston. He asked me to write this because he wanted to keep Marc Emery's situation before the public in the hope that Emery could avoid extradition or at least be returned to Canada sooner than otherwise.
Before working on this book I had never spent any time looking at the marijuana decriminalization issue. It's still not an issue at the top of my priorities. But I am interested in the interface between conservative and libertarian ideas, and this seemed like one of the venues where those two perspectives would clash.
I am a conservative rather than a libertarian, yet I have a lot of respect for libertarianism and many of its adherents. In most cases the libertarian position on particular issues is strong intellectually, so they are worth considering.
The fact that I co-wrote this book should not be taken as an endorsement of the use of marijuana or an endorsement of the marijuana-legalization movement. Personally, I still think that marijuana is harmful and shouldn't be used, although I don't oppose the use of marijuana as a medical treatment. Physicians should probably be able to prescribe marijuana as a treatment if they honestly believe it will help.
The argumentation for decriminalizing marijuana is generally strong. But I haven't had time to consider the overall debate in its entirety, so I don't know enough to conscientiously endorse this position. Nevertheless, the tone of the book probably comes across as pro-decriminalization, and that's okay considering the topic and theme.
Also, I like the police. I think they do a good job for the most part and I don't like the constant criticism they receive in the media and from marijuana activists. They have tough work to do and they risk their lives every day. From my perspective, writing this book is not meant to be a slam against the police.
This book was written in a very short period of time. It was felt that the imminent extradition of Marc Emery created an urgent situation requiring something to inform the public of the broader issues surrounding his case. Hopefully this book will fulfill that purpose.
As I noted in my last post, I invite Western Standard readers to submit any thoughts they have on the Marc Emery story before the final draft is completed, including suggestions on how the market the completed manuscript. Thanks to everyone who has emailed me with suggestions so far. To everyone else, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate whether or not you would like to be acknowledged in the book for your contribution.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
You can get to know Dr. Michael Wagner better, and support the Western Standard, by purchasing his most recent book.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Libby Davies restates opposition to extradition of Marc Emery
NDP MP Libby Davies has a lot to offer civil libertarians.
Western Standard blogger, free speech champion and social conservative Paul Tuns wrote disapprovingly here of Davies’ efforts to legalize prostitution, a policy that libertarians, by contrast, support. In fact, I’ve personally written in support of the legalization of prostitution here and here.
Davies is also a champion of drug policy reform. She’s a strong advocate for harm reduction and has publicly opposed the extradition of publisher and libertarian activist Marc Emery, who awaits extradition to the U.S. on charges related to selling marijuana seeds.
Davies continues to be an advocate in parliament for Emery. On October 2, 2009, in an open letter to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, Davies wrote:
I write once again to ask that you stop the extradition of Canadian Marc Emery to the United States and allow him to serve his prison sentence in Canada.
Canadian law enforcement officials have for a decade ignored Mr. Emery’s well publicized activities. I have expressed to you on many occasions my vehement opposition to sending Mr. Emery or any Canadian to face harsh punishment in another country when we have agreed as a society that these actions are not worthy of prosecution in Canada. Yet, your government has refused to intervene on Mr. Emery’s behalf and he will now serve a five year prison term in the United States.
It is my understanding that the United States government will allow Mr. Emery to remain in Canada to serve his sentence if the Government of Canada agrees. I therefore urge you to act in best the interest of this Canadian citizen and in the interest of Canadian sovereignty and allow Mr. Emery to serve his sentence in Canada.
I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible on this urgent matter.
While I disagree with Davies more than I agree with her, she has shown courage and intelligence on issues important to libertarians.
NDP leader Jack Layton has also expressed his opposition to the extradition of Marc Emery. You can read his comments here, courtesy of Jacob Hunter.
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Seeds of Liberty: The Marc Emery Story
As publisher of the Western Standard I have commissioned two writers to co-author a full-length book on the life and work of Canadian publisher and libertarian activist Marc Emery.
Emery, #3 on the Western Standard’s Liberty 100, is currently being held in a B.C. prison awaiting extradition to a U.S. prison on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. You can learn more about his case here.
The monograph has been completed in draft form and editing work is now being done to ensure Emery’s libertarian activism and political views are documented accurately and comprehensively. A final draft of the book is expected in two weeks, at which time it will be copy-edited and printed.
Here’s the current draft outline of the book:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 – Introduction: The Political Extradition of a Canadian Libertarian Activist
CHAPTER 2 –Libertarian Ideology and Marijuana Decriminalization: The Ideas That Drive Marc Emery
CHAPTER 3 – Canadian Marijuana Policy and the Influence of the United States: Ceding Canadian Sovereignty
CHAPTER 4 – The Intellectual and Political Development of Marc Emery
CHAPTER 5 – Marc Emery and Canadian Electoral Politics: Building a Coalition for Freedom
CHAPTER 6 – Marc Emery’s Other Political Activities: Sowing the Seeds of Liberty
CHAPTER 7 – The Political Extradition Marc Emery: A Story of Fear and Loathing
CHAPTER 8 – Conclusion: How Will History Judge Marc Emery?
Are we missing anything?
I invite Western Standard readers to submit any thoughts they have on the Marc Emery story before the final draft is completed. Please send your comments to email@example.com and indicate whether or not you would like to be acknowledged in the book for your contribution.
I will release more information on the book in the days to come, including information on where to pre-orders. The profits from the book will be used to launch an advocacy organization that will work toward marijuana policy reform and the release of Marc Emery from prison should he be successfully extradited as expected.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Marc Emery turns himself in to be extradited
Today marks a horrible day for those of us who have worked with, become friends with, appreciated, and looked up to a Canadian hero for individual liberty. Marc Emery, often called the "Prince of Pot," presented himself to the authorities in order to be extradited to the U.S. to face five years in prison for selling marijuana seeds in the mail to Americans.
Marc Emery was a columnist with the Western Standard, and a personal friend to all of us on the editorial board. It is shattering to see pictures of him in newspapers, surrounded by friends and fans, knowing that he's about to spend many years in a prison for a fake "crime." And it is a fake crime.
William Hopper penned a wonderful story for the Western Standard about Emery's extradition back in January of last year entitled "Seeding Sovereignty." And we've debated Emery's activities here on the Shotgun blog many, many, many times.
Instead of recapitulating a lot of the arguments that I've made in the past, I thought I'd post Freedom Party International's press statement. Marc Emery was one of the founders of the Freedom Party (which is not the same as Freedom Party International), and has had a long association with that political party. Here is the statement they issued today:
On behalf of Freedom Party International (FPI), spokespersons Paul McKeever and Robert Metz issued the following statement:
FPI is today calling upon the Canadian and U.S. governments to discard plans to extradite and imprison Canadian citizen Marc Emery.
For his entire adult life, Marc Emery has been a vocal and animated advocate of individual freedom. He has campaigned on a very wide range of issues concerning individual liberty and property rights. He has successfully campaigned to save the taxpayer millions of dollars that would otherwise have been wasted on white elephants; he has challenged the abuses inflicted by garbage collection unions upon the citizenry; he has opposed the now-repealed ban on Sunday Shopping in Ontario (he is the only man ever to have gone to jail for opening his store on Sunday contrary to the law); he has fought censorship, by importing and selling a rap music album by the rap group "The Two Live Crew", and by selling prohibited books in Canada concerning the history of marijuana prohibition. In the 1990s, he chose to focus his efforts on the prohibition of one peaceful activity that so clearly violates the liberty of every individual, and that has resulted in the criminalization and incarceration of millions of people: the manufacture, sale, possession and use of cannabis.
With his decision to oppose cannabis prohibition, Emery has strayed from his previous focus on individual rights. He has instead resorted to provocation and agitation in an attempt to build sympathy for himself and for victims of prohibition, and to provoke anger against politicians, parties, and governments that have advocated cannabis prohibition, or that have done nothing to repeal it. FPI is not a political party per se, but a philosophical organization that advocates rational governance. As such, we reject Emery's emotion-focused strategy and tactics.
However, we stand by and defend Emery on philosophical grounds. A human being's defining feature is his or her capacity to reason. In our view, it is morally right that a human being put his own survival and the pursuit of his own happiness first, and we assert that a person cannot do that if he is not free to act upon the rational conclusions of his own mind. To that end, we assert that the proper role of government is to ensure that no person obtains any values from any other person without that person's consent. We quite agree that it is morally wrong to use marijuana, or any substance, in an attempt to avoid facing reality and dealing with it. However, in a free country, the government does not punish people simply for making foolish or self-destructive decisions so long as those decisions do not involve violations of another person's liberty or property.
In early 2008, U.S. authorities agreed with Emery to a deal in which Emery would serve a five year term for violations of U.S. prohibition laws, but would serve it on Canadian soil. On Canadian soil, he would have been released on parole within a year. However, the Conservative government of Canada refused to agree to the deal. For that reason, Emery is now faced with being imprisoned in a U.S. facility for a full five-year term. FPI condemns the U.S. government's decision to prosecute Emery, and the Conservative government's refusal to agree to the U.S. offer to allow him to stay on Canadian soil. We call upon the Conservative government of Canada to revisit that decision and communicate with U.S. authorities so as to ensure that Emery never has to spend any time in a U.S. facility. We call upon opposition parties in the Canadian House of Commons to demand of the federal Conservatives that they defend the sovereignty -- and thereby, the liberty -- of Canadians by taking all necessary steps to ensure that Emery is not sent to a U.S. prison. We call upon the Obama administration to take all steps necessary to have the charges against Marc Emery dropped. And we call upon governments and legislatures in both countries to put an end to cannabis prohibition."
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Marc Emery’s “Farewell Tour” rolls through Banff: A report by Krista Zoobkoff
Marc Emery’s “Farewell Tour” rolled through Banff, Alberta on Monday for an event hosted by Krista Zoobkoff, Libertarian Party candidate for the riding of Wild Rose in the last federal election.
In a report for the Western Standard, Zoobkoff wrote:
Marc and Jodie Emery made their way to Banff on their second stop in the Marc Emery "Farewell Tour." The event was teetering on shaky ground, as we prayed for the weather to clear up. The event was held at the gazebo in central park at 4:30 p.m. just as the rain stopped. One hundred Emery supporters braved their way to the outdoor venue, making the Banff stop on the Farewell Tour a success.
Emery is being extradited to the United States for his conspiracy to cultivate marijuana. This is a man who is going to lose his freedom for his part in selling cannabis seeds over the border to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). This was an act that was non-violent and that had no victims. Cannabis seeds don’t contain THC or any other intoxicant.
As a Canadian, I am outraged at the United States, the DEA, the RCMP, and the Conservative government that has not come to the aid of a Canadian citizen. Canada is not going to be safer with Emery behind bars, further showing the incompetence of the Harper government. The Emery extradition has been a burden to taxpayers, leaving Canadians to suffer the loss of a family member and a friend. These are our tax dollars hard at work.
Emery is going to prison and there is nothing we can do about that. Our next fight is going to be to put pressure on the Conservatives to transfer Emery to Canada so he can do his time where he will be safe and have access to his family and friends. So don’t rest just yet and stay informed on what we can do to get him transferred to Canada.
Thanks for the update, Krista.
(Picture: Marc and Jody Emery in Banff, Alberta)
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Facing extradition and jail, Marc Emery plans “farewell tour”
Libertarian publisher and activist Marc Emery has been under an extradition order since 2004 when U.S. authorities, assisted by the Vancouver Police, arrested him on charges related to selling marijuana seeds. In May, Emery announced he would be pleading guilty to the charges in order to secure a deal that would see him face five years in a U.S. jail.
Today, Emery announced his “farewell tour” that will take him through Alberta in what could be his last heroic effort to legalize marijuana.
Marc Emery's Farewell Tour Calgary
July 5th / 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Location: Scarboro Community Association
1727 14th Avenue SW
Free event sponsored by The Next Level Inc.
Marc Emery's Farewell Tour Banff
Sponsored by Hempire Canada (Banff & Canmore)
Marc Emery's Farewell Tour Lethbridge
July 7 / 6:00 PM
Sponsored by Southern Alberta Cannabis Club
Location: University of Lethbridge Ballroom B
Marc Emery's Farewell Tour Edmonton
Sponsored by Edmonton 420 Cannabis Community
(Picture: Marc Emery)
Posted by Matthew Johnston
Monday, May 25, 2009
Marc Emery's extradition hearing delayed "to finalize an agreement with U.S. prosecutors"
This is the interesting part:
Emery’s lawyer, Ian Donaldson, told B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Anne Mackenzie he needed more time to finalize an agreement with U.S. prosecutors that would end the need for the hearing.
Donaldson noted that two of Emery’s co-accused have pleaded guilty to their part in a scheme in which marijuana seeds were sold for use in grow-ops south of the border.
He said that since the pleas by Michelle Rainey and Gregory Williams were entered in Seattle last month, he has been in discussions with the U.S. prosecuting counsel.
“He and I have a general framework capable of resolving the case for Mr. Emery.”
Donaldson said that under the agreement, Emery would consent to be committed for extradition on one of the three criminal counts he faces. He noted that the Canadian authorities are opposed to such a move.
Monday, January 05, 2009
Marc Emery and the Liberty 100
The Liberty 100 is the Western Standard's list of the 100 Canadian friends of liberty who have made significant contributions to individual liberty (both personal and economic) in 2008 (Top 10, Top 25, Top 50, Top 75, Top 100). The list was selected by our publisher, Matthew Johnston, who has intimate and wide-ranging knowledge of, and familiarity with, the Canadian liberty movement.
Given that this is the first installation of an annual list, Matthew decided to also include those liberty activists whose lifetime contribution to the liberty movement deserved recognition and credit, regardless of their activities in 2008 alone.
The most controversial selection on the list appears to be that of Cannabis Culture publisher and Western Standard columnist Marc Emery. In the comment sections of the list (here and here), several people complained that Emery shouldn't be on the list. Kathy Shaidle (65 on the list) expressed, uhm, grumpiness at the selection. And in emails that both Matthew and I have received, people were unhappy at the inclusion of Emery.
Maybe these responses are a result of some confusion. The list is reserved for those who are struggling for individual liberty, in a political context. Since this is the goal, it is hardly surprising that the list features libertarians more than it features conservatives, liberals, or adherents of other political philosophies.
Libertarianism, after all, is synonymous with the struggle for greater individual liberty in personal and economic matters against the intrusive power of the state.
Conservatives, generally and according to the stereotype, want to increase economic liberty, while maintaining government control over personal matters. That is, conservatives are pro-liberty when it comes to economic matters, but anti-liberty when it comes to personal, cultural, or social matters.
The reverse, meanwhile, is true, generally and according to the stereotype, of liberals -- more personal, social, and cultural liberty, and opposition to economic liberty.
For this reason, some call libertarianism an amalgam of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. But the standard really should be liberty, and we should call fiscal conservatives economic libertarians, and social liberals something like civil libertarians. It's political liberty that is at stake when it comes to these labels, so why not make liberty the noun to be modified?
So given that the list is a liberty list, I'm having trouble identifying why anyone would be opposed to the inclusion of Marc Emery who, without any doubt, is the most significant advocate of individual liberty when it comes to marijuana. It is a violation of individual liberty to have the state dictate to us what we can and cannot put into our own bodies, just as surely as it is a violation of individual liberty to have the state dictate to us what we can and cannot read or say.
We might not want people to read or say certain things, and we might not want people to smoke, eat, or inject something or other, but it really is a violation of their individual liberty for us to make use of the coercive power of the state to enact our vision of how people should live their lives. Ensuring that people are nice, kind, decent and virtuous, that they not harm themselves, that they exercise regularly, that they read Shakespeare and avoid Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse Five or the writings of Oscar Wilde, that they eat their vegetables and not munch on hash brownies (or pot brownies, or whatever they're called -- I mean brownies with a bunch of marijuana in them), and so on, is, according to the individual liberty, or libertarian, perspective, the proper function of parents (in properly rearing their children), in civil, voluntary institutions like the church (in instilling certain virtues, and providing a community for fellowship and fellow aid), in voluntary market responses (like boycotts and public relations campaigns to make less profitable those businesses we disapprove of), and so on. It is decidedly not consistent with individual liberty to have agents of the state show up to shut up those people whose writings we don't like, to impose a daily eating and exercise regimen, or to imprison those adults who decide to smoke pot or sell it to consenting others.
If you think Emery should be imprisoned for selling marijuana seeds, if you think people who smoke pot should be jailed, then you are an opponent of individual liberty when it comes to marijuana. That's too bad, as far as I'm concerned, but so be it. Just don't call yourself an advocate of liberty when it comes to pot. Call yourself what you are -- an advocate of the state dictating to adults what they can and cannot smoke.
Some of the more clever advocates of state intrusion insist that they want the state to intrude for the sake of greater autonomy. The more nuanced advocates of jailing pot smokers claim that greater autonomy in this sense means greater liberty. After all, doing drugs alters your mood, your appetite, and alters your preferences and desires not through rational deliberation and rational endorsement, but through chemical means. And, at least when it comes to illicit drugs, many think this undermines our ability to create and act on plans and projects of our own choosing. Put differently, we might no longer identify with our plans and projects because of our use of certain drugs.
Of course, I don't believe that marijuana is fairly lumped in with heroin or cocaine when it comes to this position. Empirical literature and studies appear to demonstrate that marijuana does not have the effects that opponents claim it does, that it is not a gateway drug, that it does not diminish autonomy to anything like the levels that would warrant state action if we thought that undermining our own autonomy was both something to be opposed and something that it is right for the state to interfere with. (That both are necessary is crucial and often overlooked. I call it the "ought-state gap." We need to be clear that advocates of state action need to show not only that something is bad and ought to be opposed, they also have the burden of demonstrating that the state is the right kind of institution to effectively oppose whatever we don't like. Everyone agrees that, say, you breaking a promise to come see a movie with me on Tuesday for no good reason is wrong, but we hardly think that I should therefore call my local police department. We also agree that adultery is wrong, but very few think this warrants state action.)
More to the point, the diminution of autonomy through drug use is, while worrisome, not a matter of specifically political liberty. Political liberty is the freedom we have as against the state. It is the room we have to mind our own affairs without the intrusion of state actors. It is not the freedom we have simpliciter, or the effective autonomy we have in our daily lives.
There are, obviously, nuances that I'm not covering. I'm not, for example, explaining why children should be treated differently from adults, or giving an account of "harm to others" that explains the difference between the kinds of harms (theft, violence, etc.) that warrant state interference consistent with political liberty, and the kinds of harms (you making me unhappy and sad at your use of heroin, which most certainly counts as a "harm") that do not. So there is still much left to be said.
Nevertheless, it should at least be, I hope, clear why Emery deserves to be on this list, and why he deserves to be near the top of it. No one has done more for individual liberty when it comes to marijuana. No one. And not just in Canada, but in the world. Marc Emery just is the world's most prominent, most tireless, and most significant activist in defense of the freedom of adults to enjoy marijuana as they'd like, without the state crashing through their doors, destroying their lives, tearing apart their families, and otherwise doing what really is utterly despicable and revolting.
While we might not want people to do drugs, the state-run war on drugs is, really, a war on individual liberty. Since Emery is vociferous in his opposition to it, he is a defender of individual liberty. That's why he's made the Western Standard's Liberty 100 list this year in such a prominent position. And that's why he'll probably continue to be on it year after year after year. And a good thing too.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Could the Coalition for Canada save Canadian publisher Marc Emery from a lifetime in a US prison?
In some ways, and at least until the end of February 2009, I consider myself a single issue non-voter...an activist publisher with a single, overriding personal agenda -- to stop the extradition of Canadian publisher, free market drug policy reformer, marijuana seed distributor and friend, Marc Emery.
Why is this a priority for me?
Well, taxes are likely to stay within a fairly narrow range regardless of who is in power and what we do as activist writers and opinion leaders (that's you, Western Standard readers). The left is worse than the right on taxes, no doubt, but only marginally so. Even the left understands the law of diminishing returns, which reminds them that they can’t raise taxes too much before revenues actually begin to fall. (Think of the state as a highly evolved parasite. It usually knows not to kill its host.)
The size of government will also ebb and flow superficially according to whatever is politically expedient and, to a lesser degree, the prevailing ideology. We can’t ignore that the Harper Conservatives increased the size of government, which will ultimately make future tax cuts more unlikely and deficits harder to avoid.
And nobody in a position of authority is advocating for limiting the scope of government. I can’t think of any serious move in recent history to eliminate entirely a specific function of government. (Correct me if I'm wrong here.)
So while we should not abandon these big fights for lower taxes, smaller government and more economic liberty -- in fact, we should steel ourselves to re-fight and re-win the battle of ideas in the realm of free market economics -- there is no immediacy here. It’s a medium and long term project, even in the face of a global financial crisis.
Where I see the need for real immediacy and real opportunity to "make a difference" is in the scheduled extradition hearing of Emery. If it hasn't been postponed again, Emery faces an extradition hearing in February 2009 for DEA charges related to selling marijuana seeds to the US.
Emery is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and a marijuana policy reformer. His marijuana seed business financed his activism, which attracted the attention of the DEA who wanted to cut the flow of money to the marijuana decriminalization movement. Politically motivated DEA agents arrested Emery in Canada and now want him extradited to the US to face a possible lifetime in jail. The punishment in Canada for the “crime” of selling marijuana seeds -- when it is in fact punished -- is a small fine.
There are a number of good reasons to oppose the extradition of Emery. First, there is the issue of Canadian sovereignty. Canadians have chosen, before the Harper Conservatives took over, to take a liberal approach to drug policy. In this political climate, Emery operated his seed business openly, paid his taxes and even helped Health Canada connect medical marijuana users with his reputable marijuana seed distribution company – Marc Emery Seeds.
Second, there is the injustice and failure of drug prohibition. Canadians understand that drug prohibition has been a failure, and there is little appetite for a US-style war on drugs. From every corner of the political spectrum, there is opposition to marijuana prohibition in particular.
NDP leader Jack Layton, Green Party leader Elizabeth May, junior Liberal MP Justin Trudeau, former Canadian Alliance MP turned Liberal Keith Martin, Conservative MP Scott Reid, senior Conservative cabinet minister and former Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day -- the list of politicians who think the current marijuana laws are unjust and unworkable is extensive. Extraditing Emery in this environment would not reflect public opinion or the collective views of those who make up the official political culture in Ottawa.
The life of a man who has dedicated his career to advancing liberty hangs in the balance, and it is one of those fights that can be won. In fact, the current disorder in parliament and scramble for power could end in Emery’s favour.
The Coalition for Canada (CFC) is the possible Bloc-Liberal-NDP coalition that hopes to form a coalition minority government to overthrow the Harper Conservatives. If successful, this coalition will set back the movement to reduce the size and scope of government – but, let’s be honest, that movement has not faired well under Harper or any other national leader. The coalition might be useful, however, in blocking the extradition of Emery and repudiating the Harper Conservative’s vicious and ill-considered drug war agenda.
In an interview with Emery today, he said “Keith Martin as Health Minister and Libby Davies in Justice would be great news for medical marijuana legalization.” Emery also said the coalition would likely “reduced penalties for other pot offences, and certainly bring an end to my extradition proceedings.” (I'm sure the guys in charge of "black ops" for the Conservatives will attempt use this comment from Emery to move public opinion against the CFC by suggesting they have ties to radicals.)
I will not go as far as to welcome a Coalition for Canada government, not even for Emery. But should this coalition of socialists be foisted on Canadians, I’ll hope for a happy ending for my friend Emery and for the repudiation of a misguided drug war surge strategy being advanced by the Harper Conservatives.
There will be little else to hope for.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
New B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director supports repealing Section 13 of CHRA and opposes extradition of Canadian publisher Marc Emery
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) announced this week that lawyer David Eby was named Acting Executive Director. Eby will be taking over the role effective December 1, 2008.
“We are confident that the addition of David Eby to our team will enable us to continue advancing the interests of the association, including providing the education and information about civil liberties and defending the rights of Canadians,” said Robert Holmes, president of the BCCLA.
Eby joined the BCCLA board in 2005 and is the author of the organization’s Arrest Handbook, a legal handbook that outlines the rights of people who have been arrested and accused of a crime.
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to deepen my work with the BCCLA at this stage of historic growth and impact for the organization,” said Eby. “I can’t wait to get to work with the staff, the membership, and the Board on ensuring Canada’s democratic commitments are met.”
Eby has been a legal advocate for police accountability and the rights of the accused, but what does he think of the issues that are especially important to the Western Standard editorial team? In an interview with the Western Standard, Eby shares his thoughts on freedom of speech and expression and the looming extradition of libertarian publisher and marijuana seed distributor Marc Emery.
Western Standard: I was hoping to get your thoughts on the recent Moon report calling for the repeal of Section 13 of the CHRA. This is the provision in the CHRA that governs so-called “hate speech” on the Internet. The Western Standard and our former publisher Ezra Levant faced an Alberta human rights complaint for publishing the Danish cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Maclean’s magazine also faced a complaint for publishing excerpts of Mark Steyn’s book America Alone. How do you feel about these restrictions on freedom of speech and expression? Are they reasonable? Dangerous?
David Eby: The BCCLA supports repealing Section 13 of the CHRA and its equivalent in the BC and other provincial legislation. We oppose restrictions on freedom of expression generally and any exceptions to that have to be clearly defined and strongly mandated by the facts. Obviously, restrictions are dangerous as they chill more expression than they intend as people seek to shy away from crossing the line and incurring a criminal or other penalty. While for some forms of speech we may disagree with and condemn the content, we still support the right to speak.
WS: Another issue that the Western Standard spends considerable time on is the extradition of Marc Emery. Emery is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and a drug policy reformer. His marijuana seed business financed his activism, which attracted the attention of the DEA. DEA agents arrested him in Canada and want him extradited to the US to face a possible lifetime in jail. The punishment in Canada for this “crime” -- when it is punished -- is a fine. Would the BCCLA oppose the extradition of Marc Emery?
DE: The BCCLA opposes the extradition of Marc Emery in principle; however, we do not have an active file on that particular matter. BCCLA director Kirk Tousaw is acting for Mr. Emery in the extradition hearing, but not on behalf of the organization. The “mirror” principle of Canadian extradition law holds that if something is not criminal in Canada, we would not extradite a Canadian to a foreign state where that same activity is criminal. Accordingly, given that we hold the position that the criminalization of marijuana in Canada is problematic; the extradition of Mr. Emery to the United States to face marijuana trafficking charges is similarly wrong-headed.
WS: What is your priority for the BCCLA as the new acting executive director?
DE: My first priority is to continue the high standard of political critique, analysis and litigation coming out of our office through supporting our hard working staff and volunteer board members. Our organization’s policy and direction is set by our board, and my role is to support that as best as possible. In these difficult financial times, I can foresee that much of my role will involve ensuring that the finances of the organization remain on track so that we may maintain our current level of service to the public.
WS: Do you have any thoughts on the distinction between civil libertarians and libertarians of the Walter Block-variety, who I believe was once a director with the BCCLA? What policy priorities do you think would best embody this distinction?
DE: Walter Block was before my time, but I know the distinction you’re referring to. Between libertarians and civil libertarians, while we share a number of concerns and principles, the civil libertarian view that a larger government role is required around due process, non-discrimination and equality rights being observed probably sets us apart from strict libertarians.
(Picture: David Eby is Acting Executive Director of the BCCLA)
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Marc Emery wants Vancouverites to get serious about the economic downturn ahead, but voters just want their pet projects paid for and the media wants its circus
If you don’t pay close attention to Marc Emery, you might think his advocacy and activism is nothing more than playful public mischief, or even self-aggrandizement. But those who do pay attention know Emery to be serious, principled and uncompromising, not just in his efforts to legalize marijuana, but in his work to advance a wider agenda for liberty.
His generosity also knows no bounds – even when it should. He gives all his money away to campaigns across the globe to legalize marijuana or ploughs it back into his own many ventures from Cannabis Culture magazine to a non-profit drug treatment centre to his own self-financed campaigns for public office.
Emery’s brash style and bombastic rhetoric have been the secret to much of his media success – the self-styled “Prince of Pot” always makes for good copy, and he knows it. But his international standing as the spokesperson for marijuana legalization has come about for reasons other than style. Emery has a brilliant mind, a firm understanding of libertarian philosophy and economics, an insatiable appetite for public policy and organizational abilities unmatched in the Canadian freedom movement. All of this was properly acknowledged when Emery was invited to speak at Idea City alongside some of Canada’s most respected political, academic, business and culture leaders.
Knowing this, it is no surprise that Emery has grown frustrated with his own campaign for Mayor of Vancouver. The media wants its circus, and voters want their pet projects financed. Nobody wants to hear from Emery that Vancouver faces serious economic problems for which the bloated and ever-expanding public sector is at least partially responsible – and, at the very least, will never solve.
Will Emery get a hearing before the November 15th municipal vote? I doubt it, but the Western Standard has published an opinion piece by Emery to ensure that his warnings are not forgotten by history.
You can read "My manifesto for the city of Vancouver" here or simply enjoy the excerpts below the fold. (I would highly recommend reading the excerpt related to Emery's qualifications to be Mayor.)
Marc Emery on the Vancouver mayoral election:
Saturday night, I was due to give a five-minute performance at the Creative City Cabaret. In Vancouver, candidates are asked to do almost anything but discuss issues relevant to managing the city government. I committed to doing a rendition of the scene from Monty Python & The Holy Grail where Arthur meets up with the peasant; it’s a great scene, and perhaps my favourite scene ever. But I can’t do it. I’m not running to be Court Jester. The job I’m applying for is to be Mayor of Vancouver in a time of imminent and dire crisis. I’ll bomb, I’m sure, but the only thing I’ve ever really been good at before an audience is telling them uncomfortable truths.
I haven’t met a single voter who cares about my issues, my perspective or asks my questions, so I am truly a gadfly this election. In the next three years, Vancouver will face an economic contraction, collapse, recession, that is unprecedented in the last 50 years. Construction activity will dry up in 2009 and more so in 2010. Retail stores will be closing in large numbers after this Christmas, and many businesses here have begun substantial lay-offs that will worsen in the winter and spring ahead. Rising unemployment, homelessness, business closings, will see greater pressure on charities, Food Banks, the Salvation Army. In the next two years, the auto industry, forestry, construction, retail, restaurants will all be suffering terrible reductions in activity. This means dramatically less tax revenues to the federal government, the province and city, as great a reduction in tax revenues as we have ever seen perhaps.
The perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances will batter this Boomtown. The Olympics are here in 15 months, and it couldn’t be worse timing. That will be the trough of the recession, the worst part. Revenue to the Olympics will be much less than anticipated, while Olympic over-runs are legacies guaranteed by the taxpayers of Vancouver and British Columbia.
My only “radical” assertion as Mayor would be to unilaterally end drug prohibition. Prohibition is an extremely expensive and failed policy. It enriches crime gangs, taxes our police force, fuels property crimes against cars and homes, feeds the pawnshops with stolen goods, motivates addicted women to become prostitutes, lures young people into the drug trade, creates the conditions for gangland killings and violence, makes the situation of the mentally ill and homeless much worse, and damages our reputation with tourists because the drug problems look terrible.
Is Emery qualified to be mayor?
• I have been a businessman for 38 years. My first retail catalogue was issued January 1, 1971. I have been a downtown Vancouver businessman for 14 years, with up to 50 employees, supervising $3 - $5 million in sales each year. I currently employ 30 people.
• I have been a community activist for 29 years, since 1980. I have been instrumental in repealing two laws (The Sunday Shopping laws in 1988, the Banned literature laws in 1995) and financed the Canadian Supreme Court challenge to the Marijuana prohibition in 2003, which lost 6-3.
• I have been a publisher of community newspapers and magazines since 1981. I have been publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine since 1994 and publisher of POT.TV since 2000.
• I have been featured in a positive light in every major North American media, including a front-page portrait in The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 5, 1995), feature stories in Rolling Stone magazine, The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Economist, 60 Minutes (CBS Television), and numerous others. The documentary film by CBC called “The Prince of Pot: The US vs. Marc Emery” has a resume of my activist career.
• As leading industry spokesperson for the cannabis culture I have been responsible for bringing hundreds of millions of dollars to British Columbia since 1994, providing more wealth to this province than possibly any other single individual. British Columbia’s marijuana industry is second largest in the province, and by 2010, will eclipse construction as the leading generator of income in the province.
• I have never declared bankruptcy or not paid a debt in 38 years of business. Despite being arrested 23 times, jailed 17 times and raided 6 times for my activism, I have been resilient enough to survive as a businessman and bounce back each time, learning important skills in survival and prudent money management. I know how to scale back spending to deal with emergency crises!
• I have raised 4 adopted children who lived with me from 1980 to 2001 (all on their own now) and know what it is like to raise children and provide for a family.
• I donated at least $3,500,000 to activist groups, individuals, organizations, symposiums, conferences, lobby groups, marches, rallies, in Vancouver and across the globe from 1994 to 2005, about $300,000 to $400,000 a year in that period.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Marc Emery: Scary Times
On Thursday, July 10, Vancouver police visited Marc Emery's place at 1350 Commercial Drive where he was planning to put in a new store. According to Emery, they picked up the phone and gave the landlord a buzz, telling the landlord that Emery wasn't going to get a business license, that he sold drugs, and that Emery had an advertisement in the window saying that marijuana is for sale inside. Within 24 hours, Emery's landlord terminated his lease.
This latest bump-in with the law has motivated Emery to pen a lengthy column for our readers at the Western Standard entitled "Risky Times." Not one to shy away from a battle, Emery skewers the Vancouver Police Department and various government agencies both here and in the U.S. for their sometimes-aggressive, and always liberticidal measures against the marijuana community.
"I am Goldstein from George Orwell’s 1984," writes Emery. "The drug war is perpetual war, and I am the mythical rebel recast as all-powerful drug lord that is poisoning the will of the nation, and of course, its children. Meanwhile the state runs amok passing new laws, regulations, requirements that make ordinary life a risky gamble with the prospect of jail, punishment, asset forfeiture, tasering, or any manner of police arrogance or brutality."
It's interesting, as Marc points out, that Vancouver is consistently ranked in the top-ten of best places in the world to live considering the generally laissez-faire attitude authorities tend to take. Marc argues that it is precisely because the authorities are so live-and-let-live that Vancouver, or "Vansterdam"--a play on Vancouver's association with Amsterdam--as many call it, is so highly regarded. A tolerant (and permissive?) culture, he says, is part-and-parcel of Vancouver's appeal, and the reason why Vancouverites are so happy with their city.
Of course, we can debate this.
One way to see if this generalization bears out is to compare all of the cities in the top ten, or to look at, for instance, the U.S. and the rankings of cities there. I don't know much about Plymouth, MN, or Fort Collins, CO, or Naperville, IL, (the top three cities) but their demographic and population details give me the impression that they are probably family-oriented, old-fashioned, small-town sorts of places. San Francisco, a city that screams "Vancouver of the South," doesn't even crack the top 100. Meanwhile, Zurich, Vienna, Geneva, and Auckland (numbers one through five, with Vancouver placing fourth this year) are difficult to rank on a "live-and-let-live" scale (Amsterdam is not on the top-ten list, which would have at least given strong confirmation of the claim).
Still, there's something special about Vancouver. And no one can deny the significance of the marijuana community in that city. As well, no one can deny that Marc Emery really is the fountainhead of that community. To get his take on his treatment at the hands of the various police and government agencies, and why he thinks we live in "scary times," you'll have to read his whole piece.
Emery's extradition hearing, meanwhile, is scheduled for February 9 to the 17th in B.C.'s Supreme Court. It will be interesting to see what the government of Canada decides to do in his case, and we'll be covering it from beginning to end.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
WStv: Marc Emery addresses Western Standard readers
UPDATE: Jacob Sullum at Reason magazine has posted about our videos of Emery here.
Conservative opposition to the war on drugs has been building for over a decade.
It began in earnest with a Fraser Institute publication in June 1998 titled “Reassessing the War on Drugs.” This publication was a collection of essays on the failure of drug prohibition and included polling data that showed “only one in ten Canadians is staunchly against seeing marijuana use removed from the list of criminal code offences.” The Fraser Institute challenged its fiscal and law-and-order conservative supporters to seriously rethink the war on drugs, with Institute scholars like Patrick Basham leading this charge.
In May 2000, Stockwell Day joined the discussion. During his successful "Freedom Train" leadership campaign, Day told the Vancouver Sun that marijuana users should not go to jail: “if you’re talking about simple possession, no, that should not be jail.” Day became the first leader of the Canadian Alliance and is now Minister of Public Safety with the Harper government.
In October 2001, Scott Reid made a powerful case for ending drug prohibition in the journal Policy Options. Scott Reid is the Member of Parliament for Lanark-Carleton and part of Harper’s brain trust.
The tag line on Reid’s article reads: “The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the Canadian Alliance Party.” And his views are still officially not those of the Conservative Party, although support for moderate drug liberalization is shared by many conservative-minded MPs.
Regular readers of the Shotgun blog may recall Peter Jaworski’s post about prominent conservatives who oppose the war on drugs. The list includes Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman and National Review founder William F. Buckley.
All of this is to say that conservative opposition to the war on drugs does exist. But while conservatives have tested the waters of drug liberalization, few are ready to dive into the deep end in support of marijuana legalization advocate Marc Emery. Vancouver’s "Prince of Pot," Emery is still facing the possibility of extradition to the United States to face drug charges for selling marijuana seeds. He was arrested in Canada by the U.S. DEA and, if extradited and convicted, could spend a lifetime in a U.S. prison. We covered Emery's case in "Seeding Sovereignty," a feature-length article by Western Standard reporter William Hopper.
The legal case against Emery's extradition should be strong. The Canadian government allowed Emery to operate openly. He paid taxes on his illegal seed business. Health Canada directed medical marijuana patients to purchase seeds from him. He often ran for public office. Is this the kind of person Canadians, even conservative Canadians, want to see spend a lifetime in a U.S. prison? Probably not, but Emery’s uncompromising views and public, non-violent civil disobedience scares away conservative sympathizers. Emery is also not just philosophically committed to drug legalization; he promotes the drug culture with his magazine Cannabis Culture and his popular on-line video website POT.TV. This is too much for cultural conservatives, even those convinced of the failure of drug prohibition.
But like it or not, Marc Emery is at the centre of the debate over the legalization of marijuana in Canada, which is why we invited him to create a broadcast message specifically for Western Standard readers. Many will be impressed by Emery’s commitment to liberty and free market ideas. Others will no doubt be shocked by Jodie Emery's open marijuana use. Emery is a hero to many libertarians and drug peaceniks, but can he win the hearts and minds of conservatives?
This is Marc Emery in his own words, unbound:
Parts Two and Three below the fold