On July 9th, 2014, Canada’s leading pro-marijuana activist, Marc “Prince of Pot” Emery, was released from a federal correctional institution in Mississippi after serving a 5-year sentence. The Vancouver resident was extradited to the U.S. in 2009, at age 56, where he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. The outspoken activist, considered a martyr by his supporters, publicly acknowledged that he had sold cannabis seeds from Canada to American customers via mail order since 1994. The “Prince” used the bulk of his profits to support activist groups, lobbyists, court cases, and ballot initiatives as part of his ongoing fight for marijuana legalization. He has always maintained that politics – not justice – drove his prosecution.
Emery has remained in custody while his deportation is processed, which will likely last into mid-August. In the meantime, by way of his blog, Emery is asking his supporters to provide “motivation” for the Harper government to repatriate him on a “more reasonable and timely schedule”. Upon his return, he and his wife Jodie Emery plan on holding rallies in 30 Canadian cities to stir support for Trudeau and the Liberal Party.
Emery’s arrest nearly a decade ago was hailed by the Drug Enforcement Agency as a “significant blow” to the legalization movement. However, Emery is re-entering a world where many of his ideas have started to take effect. Although the use, sale and possession of cannabis is still illegal under federal law in both the U.S. and Canada, medical marijuana can be legally obtained from licensed producers in Canada and across 23 states in the U.S. This year, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, and the topic has become a major platform in Canadian politics. Supporters credit Emery for spurring much of the shift in legal regulations and social consciousness, even while imprisoned. His release will certainly stimulate the ongoing debate as the 2015 election approaches.