Canada

The Prince of Pot Makes a Pitch to Conservatives

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Libertarian activist Marc Emery, who faces extradition to the United States for selling marijuana seeds to Americans, makes his case to Canadian conservatives in a three-part video posted on the Western Standard's blog. Emery explains how, inspired by Ayn Rand and Ludwig von Mises, he embarked on campaigns of civil disobedience against unjust laws, including bans on Sunday retailing, "obscene" recordings such as 2 Live Crew's As Nasty As They Wanna Be, and drug-oriented publications. His most conspicuous effort was his marijuana seed business, aimed at "overgrowing the government" and raising money for the worldwide marijuana legalization movement. It proved a little too conspicuous.

Emery's operation, which shipped seeds to the U.S. and other countries, was one of hundreds such vendors in Canada, and he operated openly for more than a decade with little trouble from the government, which happily accepted the taxes generated by his business. But his financial support for drug policy reform groups, his political activism as founder of the B.C. Marijuana Party, and his advocacy of legalization in forums such as his Pot TV website and his magazine Cannabis Culture irritated both Vancouver police and American drug warriors, who conspired to arrest him and ship him to the U.S. for trial on drug trafficking, conspiracy, and money laundering charges that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. In Canada, by contrast, the worst penalty he was apt to face for selling marijuana seeds to growers was a fine, and in practice the government not only turned a blind eye but referred medical marijuana patients to him.

By Emery's account, the effort to arrest and extradite him began after he heckled John Walters during the U.S. drug czar's visit to Vancouver in November 2002. "That's really what this is all about," he says. "Three days later, his friends at the Vancouver Police Department opened an investigation of me." This is not as far-fetched as it might sound, since the day of Emery's arrest in July 2005 DEA head Karen Tandy admitted it was politically motivated, implying that Emery was being punished for his activism and philanthropy:

Today's arrest of Mark [sic] Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine and the founder of a marijuana legalization group, is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.

As I noted last month, Emery has tentatively accepted a Justice Department deal under which he would serve five years and his two co-defendants (one of whom uses marijuana to relieve the symptoms of Crohn's disease) would be released. Emery, who wants to serve all or at least most of his sentence in Canada, says he is still negotiating the details of that arrangement. He proposes another way out: If the Canadian authorities charged him with illegally selling marijuana seeds, he says, there would be no reason to extradite him; he could instead be tried in a Canadian court under Canadian laws and face the penalties Canadians consider appropriate.

Part of Emery's pitch to conservatives is that the U.S. government's prosecution of him impinges on Canadian sovereignty. He likens his situation to that of a Canadian charged with sending Falun Gong literature to China, selling alcohol to Saudis, or running a gambling website used by Americans, and asks whether the Canadian government would agree to extradition in those cases. "I've always defended peaceful, honest lifestyle choices," he concludes. "I paid all my taxes, never hurt anybody, only violated unjust laws transparently and openly, and that is something every conservative and libertarian should be able to get behind."

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  1. “…a significant blow … to the marijuana legalization movement.”

    Tandy should lose her job for (among many, many other things) abusing her government position by attempting to restrict people’s right to legally modify government to suit their preferences. Insert caveats about Emery not being a US citizen, Tandy’s job shouldn’t exist at all, etc.

  2. Too bad he doesn’t have a ghost of a chance. I don’t know how things are in Canada, but down here I’m pessimistic about drug policy reform, to say the least.

  3. What has this man done to hurt a single person?!

    If I had a personal list of defenders of liberty, Mr. Emery would be right at the top. He has used the proceeds of his business for a modest existence and to promote the safe, responsible use of a plant.

    /If there is a God, I pray for him to help out Marc Emery.

    //Marc’s use of the Libertarian greats, outstanding.

  4. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.

    Hurr hurr hurr hurr. Pot of money! Hurr hurr hurr hurr hurr.

  5. “I’ve always defended peaceful, honest lifestyle choices,” he concludes. “I paid all my taxes, never hurt anybody, only violated unjust laws transparently and openly, and that is something every conservative and libertarian should be able to get behind.”

    This man believes in liberty more than many most Americans.

  6. If the purpose of Emery’s video is truly to win over conservatives, then the guy is a complete idiot. Starting off with your wife taking a bong hit? Come on. There are countless logical arguments for legalizing drugs, but most conservatives are never going to hear them because they’re going to tune out the second they hear the bong water gurgling. The main thing that drives me nuts about liberals is that they’re so focused on ideology that they never stop to think if a solution will actually work. If Emery’s video is any indication, he’s guilty of the same crime.

  7. Thank you Jacob for this post. I’ve been following the Marc Emery story since his arrest. His earlier life is really fascinating.

    The sad part here is the abuse of power accomplished it’s intended aim immediately. Prior to his arrest, Marc was funding all manner of activism, including (but not limited to) the afore mentioned Marijuana Party, and also such projects as a drug rehabilitation facility. He would hold rallies and smoke pot in front of police stations and other seats of government, daring the state to arrest him. If he was arrested, he’d use the case to get publicity, if he wasn’t arrested, he’d use it as precedent in claiming that pot was De facto legal in Canada. He was really making progress for Marijuana reform.

    But as soon as he was arrested, his business was shut down and he had to start mounting a legal defense. He remained an activist but his fangs had been pulled. The following year, the Conservatives were voted into power and much of his work has been undone.

    The past five years have really taken their toll on Marc. He’s aged considerably, and he’s associating more and more with the new-age hippies.

  8. What about all those children whose mind he has poisoned with his dangerous libertine rhetoric? Do we really want kids to grow up thinking they have the freedom to use illegal substances? It’s illegal you have no right to use it, end of story. It’s too bad Canada doesn’t have the death penalty, think of all the lives he;s destroyed with those marijuana seeds.

  9. His wife is BEYOND hot. She’s uberhot, actually.

    Hubba hubba.

  10. “I’ve always defended peaceful, honest lifestyle choices,” he concludes. “I paid all my taxes, never hurt anybody, only violated unjust laws transparently and openly, and that is something every conservative and libertarian should be able to get behind.”

    Yep, he’s a danger to society.
    Marc Emery, should be happy he doesn’t live in the US. Those 2 am SWAT raids have a tendency to go horribly wrong.

  11. ClubMedSux,

    I have to disagree. If you look at what he was able to do before his arrest, it’s really impressive. When he started out, you couldn’t even print pro marijuana literature in Canada. He started out selling copies of High Times out of the trunk of his car.

    His success demonstrates what I’ve been saying. Starting by with a “While I never use drug, and would never encourage others…” disclaimer concedes the argument before you even make one. What we need is more “I smoke pot. Not only do I smoke pot, but smoking pot has greatly contributed to my success in life”. To be seen smoking dope, and then making clear, articulate arguments while high.

    Unfortunately, the whole thing came crashing down on Marc when he bought a table at a lunch featuring John Waters, and heckled the American Drug Czar with cries of “Lies” and “Bullshit”.

  12. Starting by with a “While I never use drug, and would never encourage others…” disclaimer concedes the argument before you even make one. What we need is more “I smoke pot. Not only do I smoke pot, but smoking pot has greatly contributed to my success in life”.

    Are you sure that, if you slip up just a little bit, the drug warriors won’t be all like “HA! You see! It’s because you smoke pot!”

  13. History is written by the winners. He should have bought a few politicians before he tried to heckle our drug emperor.

  14. This is not as far-fetched as it might sound

    Didn’t sound far-fetched at all.

  15. LIT,
    He had a couple of pols in his pocket, but they were all like “No, I don’t know him. You got me confused with someone else” after the arrest.

    [rooster crow]

  16. Warren-

    I get what your saying, and I’m sure his methods have been successful in the past. However, I feel like this might fit more into the heckling-the-drug-czar category of failed strategies. It’s one thing to have somebody say “I am a successful member of society who enjoys smoking pot.” It’s another thing to start out with your 20-something wife taking a bong hit. Ultimately, you have to connect at some level with the people whose minds you are trying to change (in this case conservatives), and I just feel like this isn’t going to do it.

  17. Warren,

    That just means he bought the wrong guys or didn’t pay them enough. Its not like those guys would have had to do much…just lean on the right DA and make it disappear. Nobody gets exposed. He played the game and lost. Sucks for him.

  18. CMS,
    OK Right. Yeah, like I said, the past five years have take their toll on Marc. His act is not as polished (though he’s always been a hyper, ego maniac, wise ass). He’s gotten more… I don’t know, desperate, disconnected somehow. He’s got his loyal followers, but unfortunately they are as pathetic as loyal followers tend to be. They of course LOVE to see him and Jodie hitt’n the bong on YouTube (Whooooo just wait till those Eichmann’s see this these crunchy videos)

    He was much more impressive on the steps of, I forget where, a few years ago. Suit and tie, bullhorn in one hand, HUGE smoking joint in the other.

  19. “He played the game and lost the rules of the game got changed by the neocons. Sucks for him anyone of us who believes that non-violent resistance and attempting to change bad law through the legal system is a good thing, and possible.”

    There, fixed it for me.

  20. Following a couple of the old links, I found that the DEA is apparently going to be giving an award honoring Betty Sembler, the wife of that noxious human being Marvin Sembler, the people behind that Straight Inc. “drug treatment center” that Reason, among others, have featured for their horrible treatment of their ‘patients’. Nice.

  21. “He’s gotten more… I don’t know, desperate, disconnected somehow.”

    Being in a Canadian cage and looking at the prospect being handed over by his own government for life in a US cage would make me discouraged and feel very disconnected.

    Sadly, I’ve resigned myself to believe that nothing’s going to change until enough people are locked up, then it will be too late.

    /already is too late.

  22. They drop their WTO complaint against the US the over online gambling ban and now they might as well put the Mounties in those ugly DEA jackets. Nice to see that Canada is still a lazy lap dog for the US; maybe we should put another star on the flag to represent them. Is there anything other than telling them to stop saying “aboot” that would get them to stand up to Washington?

  23. “….Betty Sembler, the wife of that noxious human being Marvin Sembler…”

    If there is any justice in the afterlife, there must be a special, hotter, more raggidy clothes wearing, soul tormenting portion of hell reserved just for these two.

  24. zig zag man,
    Well he’s been out on bail all this time. But he’s had this case hanging over his head. And of course he’s up against one of the drug warriors favorite tactics; seize all your assets, eliminate your income, and force you to defend yourself in lengthy legal proceedings, with dire consequenses should you loose. And should you ultimately prevail… well it doesn’t matter what happens in court because you’ve already lost.

  25. If there is any justice in the afterlife, there must be a special, hotter, more raggidy clothes wearing, soul tormenting portion of hell reserved just for these two.

    Those two, and people who talk at the theater.

  26. Warren;

    Thanks for the updates. As always, hope for the best and expect the worst.

  27. “If there is any justice in the afterlife, there must be a special, hotter, more raggidy clothes wearing, soul tormenting portion of hell reserved just for these two.

    Those two, and people who talk at the theater.”

    And drive slow in the fast lane.

    Pot activists really irritate me. Yes pot should be legal and yes it’s ridiculous people who deal this stuff are taking up prison space but stop with the “in your face” bong hits already. If the L party runs another pothead this year I’m gonna be pissed.

  28. If the L party runs another pothead this year I’m gonna be pissed.

    WTF? How many pothead do you think the LP runs Nash. They’ve never run one for president. The only LP pothead I even know of is Steve Cubby, and even he is all about Med MJ.

  29. Snoop dogg is a good example of a lifetime pothead that is a very successful business man. If you watch the show “snoop dogg’s father hood” he seems to be a good family man as well. He has matured nicely, imo.

  30. Yeah, you know what. Fuck you Nash.

    What the hell? …stop with the “in your face” bong hits already. Well sure, I can see how being tied down and forced to watch someone else getting high, and none for you, would be really irritating. Seriously, pot activist get under your skin? What about fat chicks at the beach? They should stay home too I suppose.

    You know what irritates the living shit out of me? I bet you do.

  31. I look forward to the day when the obscenity we call the Drug War is a bad memory, and drug warriors and their cronies are remembered as the power-mad moralizing bastards they really are.

  32. Totally off topic, for which I apologize.

    ClubMedSux-

    What’s the story behind your username? I’ve been wondering about it for quite awhile.

  33. Other than irritating me, I don’t see how that kind of activism, if it’s really aimed at “conservatives” is helping the freedom movement.

    While I’m sympathetic to the legal bullshit that Emery is having to deal with, I think he’s more interested in selling magazines than actually trying to change public policy.

    While I don’t disagree with Kubby’s view on medical weed, I think running on that issue as central to his platform, for President of the United States, is totally ridiculous. Maybe it helps raise interest in that one issue, but it brings down the LP as a whole.

  34. I hear what Nash is saying, but at the same time, I wish more people were open and honest about it. Not necessarily thrusting it into people’s faces, but being open and honest about it. Like with steroids, homosexuality, or any other “sensitive” issue.

    And, the WoD is the biggest violator of our freedoms currently on-going. Yes, Guantanamo and the ambiguous situation for enemy combatants is troubling, but far less troubling than the police murdering citizens and having them put away for life because of a completely benign, at worst, plant.

  35. “Chancellor | February 22, 2008, 4:04pm | #

    Too bad he doesn’t have a ghost of a chance. I don’t know how things are in Canada, but down here I’m pessimistic about drug policy reform, to say the least.”

    Well, of the three presidential possiblities, Obama is the clearly the most pro-reform of the group. Now, his position is a bit mushy, to say the least, but McCain’s and Clinton’s are firm in the other direction.

    But the real place for change to happen is in Congress. A coalition of a few Paul-esque Republicans and “Liberaltarian” (and actual hippie liberal) Democrats easily bring about real change. However, finding Democrats that think this way is a lot easier than finding many Paul-esque Republicans.

  36. Attacking the WOD should be framed in the context of how it undermines freedom and hurts everyone in society as opposed to “I want to get high so it should be abolished”.

    I think people have the right to get high for any reason, but that obviously doesn’t play well in the political arena.

  37. bans on Sunday retailing, “obscene” recordings such as 2 Live Crew’s As Nasty As They Wanna Be,

    Whoa! Snap! Blast from the past. These were the halcyon days when liberals were for the first amendment.

  38. I hope the Canadian Government grows a pair here,and tells the United States to bugger off.I admit that I don’t know anything about Canadian politics,but I would think that a Conservative Government would see this,at the very least,as a threat to the sovereignty of their country.

  39. If the purpose of Emery’s video is truly to win over conservatives, then the guy is a complete idiot.

    Um, he can’t be to much of an idiot, he established a world wide movement from nothing.

  40. What’s the story behind your username? I’ve been wondering about it for quite awhile.

    Here ya go, mediageek. I would argue that Telephone Free Landslide Victory is the greatest album that most people have never heard (though evidently Weigel is familiar with it).

  41. While I’m sympathetic to the legal bullshit that Emery is having to deal with, I think he’s more interested in selling magazines than actually trying to change public policy.

    This is so completely ignorant it’s not even funny. Marc takes all the money he makes from whatever business he’s in and puts it into changing public policy.

    While I don’t disagree with Kubby’s view on medical weed, I think running on that issue as central to his platform, for President of the United States, is totally ridiculous.

    Well you’re probably not as deeply involved with the Libertarian Party, so here’s a little inside LP minutia that might add a little context. The LP hasn’t chosen Kubby as their presidential nominee.

    Attacking the WOD should be framed in the context of how it undermines freedom and hurts everyone in society as opposed to “I want to get high so it should be abolished”.

    Oh good point… No wait its a total bullshit point since nobody EVER frames the issue that way.

  42. I was a registered Libertarian and usually vote that way due to lack of a better option. I don’t register LP anymore because they nominate people like Kubby for Governor. That’s a good thing to do if you want to raise awareness for medical marijuana. But that’s just 1 of 50 issues on my radar and when you do that you undermine the other 49.

    When I’m trying to sell people on low taxes and 1st and 2nd amendment rights and tell them to vote for “the pot guy” it makes campaigning difficult.

    I believe he’s running for president this year is he not?

    I realize this is a personal issue for Kubby I just wish he’d campaign on it in a different way. It’s kinda like watching Tom Tancredo take up space at the R debates.

    Ron Paul has framed the WOD as a threat to freedom as opposed to something that prevented indulging in a vice.

  43. Well, for what my opinion is worth, I have to ad that this is what happens when there is not a full commitment to human liberty.

    You see, the fact is that this laid-back permissive attitude to pot in Canada ends at the city limits of Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Oh yeah, there may be pockets in the college communities in cities like Regina (frankly when I go on-line to read my old hometown paper, the Leader-Post I find stuff that could just as well have been written in Bumfuck, Alabama) but for the most part Canadians are every bit as culturally conservative as anyone in the world.

    In my extended family (due to a second marriage) there are two Toronto cops in the drug squad whose rhetoric matches any cop in the good old USA. On top of that my ex-wife works with the disabled, and her work with injured cops has led her to interact with drug warriors whose opinions would be as home in any USian city any day.

    Hell, if you check around the world, you will find that there is even a cultural conservative backlash in the Netherlands right now. (sorry, had the link but I’ve lost it and can’t be bothered to find it. If any of y’all give damn use google and you might find yourselves better informed. Sorry, I’m old and jaded so I’m only wiling to go so far).

  44. I realize this is a personal issue for Kubby I just wish he’d campaign on it in a different way. It’s kinda like watching Tom Tancredo take up space at the R debates.

    Yes, this is so. I hear what you’re saying about pot as a single issue. But I can’t fully agree. For one thing, the LP just doesn’t win (significant) elections no matter who the candidate, his campaign style or the issues he’s promoting. A single issue candidate, can at least move the debate on that issue. Second, and more fundamentally, I think prohibition is THE libertarian issue. Not the most important one, but the one that best differentiates us and will serve us best. We are so right on this, and EVERYBODY else is so wrong. I think we could leverage prohibition into turning the LP into a respected party. But we have to PUSH it. As things stand, we barely pay it lip service and the only serious pushing comes from the Med MJ sector. Look at Denver, that Ballot Initiative was successfully campaigned on a platform of Marijuana is safer than alcohol.

    I completely agree that the “smoke in” or “hash bash” tactic is ineffective. Nobody is going to be impressed by a bunch of “dirty hippies” getting high and making a nuisance of themselves. However, I think that a leader at the podium, smoking pot is a powerful image. We desperately need a leader with public speaking ability that has a pair.

  45. Isaac,
    You are correct about the global conservative ascendancy. I could be wrong, but I think we’re going to see it start to ebb in the coming years. I think W and the neocons have fucked the conservative movement good and hard. So far it’s still holding together, against liberalism. But I think a good hard push will bring the whole house down. They’ve sold out all their principals there’s no glue left to keep the coalition coalescing.

  46. Please visit http://www.NoExtradition.net for more information about Marc Emery’s fight against extradition.

  47. As a Paramedic, I must say something finally, as I have read about this often in the past few weeks.

    In my 13 years of experience, I have responded to 2, read as two, (2), deux (en francais, yeah, I live in Canada….woohoo), times where I’ve responded to requests for assistance that involved marijuana (these calls involved 1 teen that had anxiety after getting scared about using marijuana and the other that happened to have used marijuana and was assaulted outside his home by a teen group over “unannounced intentions”…

    Instead, I’ve found myself responding to alcohol-related complaints that ratio 3:1 over non-alcohol related complaints, domestic disputes involving alcohol being the main reason for the complaint.

    In over 2000 calls for service as EMS, I have _2_ incidents of marijuana related socio-medical complaints to compare with more than 600 alcohol related complaints.

    Which substance do you think has had more detrimental effects on society?

    The current governments need to reconsider the current position on the “Drug War” and discover reality.

    (sorry for the previous “premature, hit-the-ENTER-button-by-accident post)

  48. Hizzoner, Czar Walters, is a neocon scumbag who was hooked up with PNAC before he became royalty. Last year he said pot growers are “violent criminal terrorists.” Apparently, doobies are as dangerous as car bombs.

    It seems Emery’s biggest crime was a commoner embarrassing royalty by pointing out the bs and lies in public. The nerve of some people.

  49. Nash,

    Drug legalization is a pretty big deal when you consider how many people do and have done drugs and how severely it funds crime. It’s one of the things that we libertarians are absolutely right on– no questions and no doubts (I wouldn’t be so naive as to say that we are completely right in the gun control debate, for example (the “complete gun ban” debate is different and there’s no question about that)). Sure, it’s not the only issue, but it’s one of the better ones.

    The libertarian party is a lot less about winning votes than it is about stirring up debates. For debates on health care, taxation, and freedom of speech, we’re usually just an added voice to the left or the right. If we talk about how horrible the drug war is more and more, maybe the discussion can finally come to the table, and intellectuals will be able to speak up without getting chastised. And maybe then we start claiming these people are siding with us, and we can get more people to join us (jooooiiiiiinnn uuuuussssssssssssss).

  50. He broke the law and he got caught. There are ways to create change without breaking the law to fund it. Not to mention the fact that he invokes Objectivists and Austrian Economists, which suggests total moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

    Really having a hard time seeing why I should care about this greasy criminal sleazeball.

  51. You know, Marc Emery is the kid in the crowd who had the balls to point out that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

    However, there is a twist in our tale of Marc Emery, instead of everyone saying,

    “Yeah, the emperor is naked and he is a fool.”

    They yell in unison,

    “You are wrong little boy, the emperor is dressed in the finest garments we have ever seen, you must be ignorant because you can’t see the emperor’s new clothes.”

    “Now we must lock you up for the rest of your life, because you are wrong.”

  52. I don’t feel sorry for him at all. Bottom line is that he charged WAY too much for his seeds and raked in millions of dollars. Like a South American drug lord, he gave money away to be popular, not to really help. His investment in “the cause” was really just an investment in his being able to say his crimes are politically motivated. Sure, spend a small percentage of profits on marijuana reform, heckle the druz Tzar and then claim you’ve been targeted. Great scheme and most here believe it. Show me where he spent some of the obscene profits he made quietly on the defense of others in his predicament. Nope. All self aggrandizement to provide an eventual defense at trial of selective prosecution. BIg martyr. I’m pro-marijuana legalization and I hate the guy. I know what he’s all about. Do a little research.

  53. “While I’m sympathetic to the legal bullshit that Emery is having to deal with, I think he’s more interested in selling magazines than actually trying to change public policy.”

    To which Warren replied …. “This is so completely ignorant it’s not even funny. Marc takes all the money he makes from whatever business he’s in and puts it into changing public policy.”

    Warren is either deceived or on the payroll. Emery lined his own pockets with millions and gave away a pittance.

  54. Ron, you’re truly full of shit.

  55. hands off marc emery!!!! let the ganja grow

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