Q & A: London-raised 'Prince of Pot' Marc Emery pans legal marijuana plan
Updated: August 20, 2018
Long before it was fashionable or politically popular, London native Marc Emery was championing legal marijuana, putting his freedom and his finances on the line as he battled authorities in Canada and the United States. Reporter Shannon Coulter caught up with Emery, the Prince of Pot, who was in London to visit family before be begins a nine-month worldwide speaking tour.
What are your overall thoughts about cannabis legalization coming up in October?
A: Well I’m disappointed that it’s so focused with recriminalization… There’s just so many unnecessary rules… The key message is that cannabis is safe and doesn’t require any of these restrictions, rules and arbitrary designations.
You’ve been very vocal about supporting legalization in the past. Does it feel like your long fight has paid off or do you think we still have a long way to go?
A: Oh no, we have a long way to go, about five years more to sort it all out. Ultimately, what’s going to happen is people are going to defy the rules and regulations, go to court, and the court is going to strike most of them down, if not all of them. I don’t see keeping any of these things that maintain a discriminatory regime… They’re not going to have parallel systems of justice running in the country depending on who you are and where you got your weed. That’s absurd.
How do you see the system working out once it’s legal?
A: It’s dysfunctional. It won’t work. You can’t make something legal on October 17 and then not have it available in retail stores for six, seven months later. That’s absurd and nutty. And at the same time, it’s made a legal product but they’re still going to raid and arrest people who are selling it in their free market stores in October. It’s totally wrong.
Do you prefer the current PC plan or did you prefer the original Liberal plan?
A: The previous Liberal government was proposing a system that would be feasible in the Soviet Union. It was all they determine the price, they’ll determine the outlets, the locations, how it was going to be sold, everything. The Ford plan is much improved because we’ll see many more stores opening much quicker. It won’t cost the taxpayer anything and those are good things. But there are still rules, restrictions and absurd punishment involved if you don’t obey their peculiar regime.
With the new PC announcement made a week ago, municipalities now have the option to opt-out of selling within their boundaries.
A: That’s illegal. No city can opt out of providing access to a legal product for their citizens. That’s not going to survive a court’s scrutiny. If something’s legal, it’s legal… No city council has the right to stop any legal activity going on in their community. That’s just ridiculous.
Now obviously you have been in the cannabis shop business before. Would you consider getting back into it once it’s legalized?
A: No, not the least bit interested. Not now, maybe in two or three years. It’s not going to be fun. If it’s not going to be fun, then I don’t want to do it. If I have to buy all my weed from the government to have a store and I’m going to have the same product as every other store… then what’s fun about that? I don’t think these new stores will be the least bit profitable. There are way too many government taxes, fees and surcharges.
Is there anything else about legalization you’re concerned about?
A: Well I’m horribly disappointed it’s not a real legalization. What they’ve done is that they’ve legalized the production industry to all these wealthy corporations… There’s so many ways that we can be breaking the law, almost unintentionally. And in many cases, people can’t even smoke it in their own apartment or on the street or anywhere because there’s no designated place to smoke… It’s a very bad legalization in my opinion.
You are doing a world tour that is starting up next week. Can you tell me about that?
A: Yes, eight and a half months, six continents, 23 countries starting with London, England, next week… I’m getting every continent in there and if I can find a freighter going from New Zealand to Antarctica, I’ll go there, too… I typically tell them a new message now that I regret advocating for marijuana to be legalized. Instead, I realized I should have said just stop arresting us because the government didn’t get it right… It’s not even legal I suppose in my opinion.