Some of you may know that Marc Emery is the subject of a nationwide series of rallies protesting his impending incarceration in the US on drug charges. His supporters say he was entrapped by the FBI and ATF and abetted by Stephen Harper’s government; his detractors say “good riddance” and hope to move on. However, that is most definitely not in the minds of the people organizing these rallies. I’ll be there this afternoon to watch what happens and talk to people of both sides, hopefully. At least one of the aforesaid organizers is actively hoping to get arrested; I suggested to him that wasn’t necessarily the only or best way to step toward their main goal of legalization, that instead, perhaps, there needs to be a new Marc Emery—someone willing to present a more media-savvy image, someone whom even Conservatives could consider potentially credible. Note, for example, that the US marijuana lobby employs people who don’t even smoke pot themselves, but who mevertheless are allies in this particular cause. Those are the folks who roam the halls of Congress, trying to change minds. That, I suggest, has a chance of success.
In order to effect change, it might well be important to find replacements for Emery who, whether or not they themselves smoke, can present some sort of public stance that Conservatives and rightist Liberals would find more difficult to dismiss out of hand than they managed to with Emery. Personally, I find that unfortunate; Marc Emery is an impassioned human being with his heart in a good place, or so it seems. I attended his speech in Toronto recently, and while as a speaker he could benefit from a written text or teleprompter, the sum of his argument was simple. It’s ridiculous on its face to prohibit the use and sale of marijuana; it has multiple potential benefits, medical, economic, and more (tax revenues, its efficacy against numerous physical maladies, etc.), and in many ways is preferable to alcohol and tobacco.
If you walk around Toronto, the vicinity of Yonge and Bloor, say, you won’t know who among you is high. But that’s by no means true of bar patrons. Someone who spills out of a bar after a drinking bout will be obvious to everyone else on the street. Personally, I’d far rather spend time in the company of pot smokers than drinkers. Pot smokers tend not to fight, debates tend to be intellectually than emotionally motivated, and above all there’s a spirit of camaraderie that one doesn’t really find in bars apart from civic pride or heartbreak over local sports. In all honest truth, after experience in serveral cities where marijuana is tolerated or essentially legal, I’ve found that it’s been a positive experience, in the main.
“So what about organized crime?”
In my view, actual legalization is the only way to get rid of gang involvement. There are two reasons gangs are in the mix: 1) Growers need distributors; and 2)There’s money in that vacuum. Legalize marijuana, and distributors no longer need the gang wholesalers, who instantly find themselves out of work. BTW, if you do that, you take away a huge source of their overall income.
So, in the end Marc Emery has several valid points to make. Yet, he’s going to jail for selling seeds. FBI agents took the step of smuggling those seeds. Emery had nothing to do with that. But that didn’t matter to the Attorneys General, and apparently still doesn’t.
More after the rally.