On July 9, Marc Emery was released from the Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi. Marc has since remained in a detention center waiting his release to Canada.
“You don’t give up and say, ‘Oh, they’re corrupt and this sucks. I’m not working with them.’” Says Jodie Emery.
“You say, ‘Okay. We took that loss. Now it’s our turn.’ And you take another chance, and you fight for more freedom and every little chance that you can get, you take a little bit and then you ask for more.”
Jodie knows plenty about fighting. For over five years, Canadian and American cannabis activists have been wearing shirts that say “Free Marc Emery”, her husband and publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine before it ended its print run in 2009. After he was caught selling cannabis seeds to Americans in violation of American law, the Canadian government allowed Marc to be extradited to the U.S. for trial.
Facing stiff penalties, Marc took a deal, pleading to his so-called crime and receiving a 5-year prison sentence in exchange. As of July 9, Marc served his full sentence, minus nearly eight months for good behavior. Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi released Marc into the custody of a Louisiana detention center while he awaits deportation to Canada.
When we spoke with Jodie, who also just became the new Liberal Party candidate for the Canadian Vancouver East Riding nomination, Marc was still being held in a Louisiana detention center with no definitive expectation as to when he would be returned to Canada.
“He’s doing as well as he can.” Jodie told us in her normal upbeat tone during a July 17 phone interview.
Far from silencing Marc by locking him up, his time is prison seems to have made both he and Jodie even more vocal. Jodie took over Cannabis Culture and has been seen regularly as a guest on Canadian news shows. In the meantime, Marc has been blogging from his prison cell and planning a tour to take down Canada’s Conservative government in favor of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party. Trudeau embraced the cause of legalization as part of the national party’s platform.
A check of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirms that Marc is “In Custody” as of July 22. Records show that Tensas Parish Detention Center in Louisiana is holding him, though no indication is given as to when he will be released to Canada. Jodie says that they still have not provided any timetable for release.
Jodie, a previous candidate for office backed by the Green Party, told us that one of her criticisms against the way Canada’s medical cannabis system is set up is that it precludes personal grows. A March 21 court-ordered injunction is preventing the Conservative government from doing away with personal cannabis gardens already in existence, but there are still no provisions for them in the law.
“You never know what’s going to happen and that’s why you always work to make change happen,” was Jodie’s cheery response to the question of whether she thinks Canada is moving toward allowing for personal grows.
When a standing treaty allowed Marc, as a Canadian citizen, to serve out his sentence in Canada, the Conservative Harper government refused to bring him home. Seemingly playing against a stacked deck, Jodie did not take a cynical view of government. Instead, it made her fight even harder.
“I’m going to carry the Green ideas into the Liberal party,” Jodie says.
While some Green supporters are disappointed in her switch, pundits in her new party are picking up the scent of trouble (or is that cannabis?) Die hard liberals fear that her presence in the race will actually hurt Liberal leader Justin Trudeau by giving Conservatives an easy target in his party.
“Well, that’s fine,” Jodie says in response to a federal Liberal Party spokesman disavowing any connection between the Party and the Emerys. “[T]he federal Liberal party has not reached out to me and I have not reached out to them. Marc has not reached out to them and they have not reached out to Marc. I joined the party at the request of Vancouver East Liberal Party Riding Association members who are also young liberals who helped develop the marijuana legalization policy that’s now part of the platform.”
If Vancouver voters elect Jodie, they might find her apt to compromise on the issue of moving legalization forward. Her stated message is that all legalization steps are good and advocates should celebrate the small victories like CBD-only laws, but keep fighting.
“[There are] 23 medical states, 17 decrim states and 2 legal states. None of that would have happened if the activists in California demanded that the state government sell marijuana and it’s that or nothing.”
After Marc returns to Canada, the Emerys have a 30-city tour planned in the fall. They will stop at each spot to show their support for the Liberal Party edging out the controlling Conservative Party in the October 2015 parliamentary elections.
Jodie says that she will be part of the tour whether she wins the nomination or not. She points out that she is not a “one issue candidate” as some critics have claimed.
“Marijuana legalization is definitely what I’m most recognized for but most people [also]know I’m about open, accountable government, tax spending reform, justice and policing and spying and prisons.” She also highlights the environment as an important issue for her.
Asked about how long it will be before Canada begins to legalize retail cannabis, Jodie pointed out that the Canadian provinces cannot create their own cannabis laws the way that U.S. states do. Cannabis laws need to be changed on the federal level.
“The only way we’re going to have that happen is to elect the Liberal government. The Justin Trudeau Liberal Party.” Jodie says that if the Liberal Party takes over in 2015, she expects legalization to begin one year later. She notes that it will take that long for the new party to get settled. And if the Conservatives hold onto power?
“[W]e will have 5 more years of people being arrested and going to prison in Canada.”