Marc Emery Canada’s Marijuana Hero

Born in 1958, Marc Emery has devoted his life and his career to fighting for the rights of Canadians and people all over North America to have access to marijuana. He has worked with many political parties and groups in his fight to reform marijuana policy both domestically and internationally. Some of the groups Emery has worked with in Canada and the United States include: • The Freedom Party of Canada • The New Democratic Party • The Unparty • The Marijuana Party of Canada • The Green Party Marc Emery is willing to put his money (and his freedom) where his mouth is, and has gone to jail multiple times for flouting both Canadian and United States laws. Most recently he was sentenced to 5 years in prison but was released after serving just over 4 years because of time he had earned as credits for good behavior.

Entrepreneurship and Early Career

Marc Emery has been a lifelong entrepreneur. At the age of 9, he had started a mail order stamp business, which he quickly followed with a comic business. He actually dropped out of high school to buy and run a used book shop, called City Lights Bookshop, in London, Ontario. He has run multiple Canadian Seed Banks, hemp stores, and other marijuana-related businesses. However, as the intensity of Emery’s political activity increased, his business focus has correspondingly decreased.

Political Advocacy and Trouble With The Law

Emery began causing trouble politically soon after he started his used bookstore. He protested the mandatory fees that the London Downtown Business Association was charging all businesses in the city for beautification projects. Early in his career, Emery was not afraid to rock the boat politically, and this tendency has only increased throughout his life and his career of marijuana activism. Emery has been vocal in his opposition to Sunday shopping laws (Ontario’s laws requiring shops to be closed on Sunday), censorship, and, of course, marijuana prohibition.

Marijuana Businesses and Activism

Choosing marijuana as his most important political project, Marc Emery moved to Vancouver, BC and opened up a shop called Hemp BC. He sold marijuana paraphernalia such as bongs and pipes, which were at that time illegal to sell in Canada. In 1994, Emery also started one of the earliest Canadian seed banks, modeled after the Dutch company Sensi Seeds. Emery fought against Canadian censorship of literature and publications related to cannabis. In 1994, Emery won his case that marijuana information shouldn’t be censored. This paved the way for High Times Magazine to be sold in Canada, as well as Emery’s own magazine, Cannabis Canada Magazine, which is now called Cannabis Culture Magazine. Marc Emery owned Hemp BC until 1998, during which time he was raided, fined, and jailed multiple times. After this, he made his marijuana seeds business a mail order model instead of an in-house company. He also launched Pot-TV in 2000, further pushing his fight against both censorship and marijuana prohibition. When John Walters, the US drug czar, visited Vancouver to push for Canada to adopt the US’s “War on Drugs,” Emery bought a table at the banquet, invited several other marijuana activists, and spent the whole time heckling Walters.

In Trouble With The Law

Marc Emery has never been someone who is afraid of rocking the boat. And as such, he has spent quite a lot of money on fines and quite a lot of time in prison. Emery was first imprisoned when he owned Hemp BC because of the complex laws surrounding marijuana. The city of Vancouver itself was (and is) marijuana friendly, but nationally, marijuana was prohibited. Therefore Emery had no legal problems with his business until he appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, at which point the Canadian government sent law enforcement to raid him. He paid the fines and spent any required jail time he was given each time he was raided, but then he consistently reopened the store immediately and continued with his business. In 2005, Emery was arrested in Canada and extradited to the US on charges of drug trafficking and selling marijuana seeds in the US. In fact, all the offenses had actually occurred in Canada, but Canadian police did not choose to lay charges. There were protests and demonstrations held around the world in support of Emery and in condemnation of the US’s attempt to extradite him. Emery faced 10 years to life in prison if found guilty for the drug trafficking charges the United States wanted to lay on him. At first, Emery agreed to a plea deal where he would serve 5 years combined between United States and Canadian prisons. However, this deal fell through when Canada refused to take up its end of the bargain. Because Canada did not want to imprison Marc Emery, he had to fight for a beneficial plea deal in the United States, which was set on punishing him to the utmost extent. However, in the end he was able to plea guilty to one charge of drug distribution, which earned him a five year sentence in prison in the USA. This sentence was passed down in 2010, after which Emery was imprisoned in Folkston, Georgia and then in Yazoo City Prison, Mississippi. Emery was released from prison in 2014. Since then, he has continued managing Cannabis Culture and working for marijuana legalization in both Canada and the United States. He recently opened marijuana dispensaries in Ontario and Quebec and was arrested again in December of 2016. Marc Emery is one of the leading voices for marijuana in the world right now. If you want to know the latest news about cannabis or how to contribute to advocacy in your own community, his Facebook page is the source for the best and the latest: https://www.facebook.com/princeofpot/.

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  1. I’m surprised after having been extratited to the U.S. in th epast he still continues the fight in Canada, good job, we’re behind you!

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