By Simon Doherty
July 10th 2014: Political Prisoner the ‘Prince of Pot’ released from US Custody
Today is an important day for cannabis activism around the globe. Marc Emery, political prisoner and highly influential cannabis activist, is due to be released from US custody, aged 56, after serving a five year sentence for sending cannabis seeds to the US via post.
He has always maintained that he started his extremely successful company, Marc Emery Direct Marijuana Seeds, in 1995 in order to fund political reform in relation to cannabis legalisation. Everything was going really well at first; Marc created the first cannabis publication in Canada and the US; Cannabis Culture magazine, he poured vast amounts of money and time into legalisation efforts and founded the Freedom Party of Ontario, the Marijuana Party of Canada and the BC Marijuana Party.
Of course if there is something that the draconian and totalitarian DEA do not like it is cannabis activists. Especially when these activists are quickly gathering momentum and support around the world. For this reason he was arrested on July 29th 2009 by the Vancouver Police Department acting on behalf of, and as a result of bullying and harassment from, the DEA.
Of course a lot has changed since Marc’s incarceration; as a result of efforts from him and others the cannabis landscape has changed drastically. Many states have legalised, decriminalised and regulated the use and trade. However, Marc’s wife Jodie Emery, aptly nicknamed the princess of pot, points out that in many states in the US individuals who grow cannabis can expect harsher sentences than child rapists in line with the mandatory minimum sentencing they impose.
Marc was transferred to a holding facility in Louisiana this morning to begin his long awaited release process after five long years serving as a political prisoner in a case that echoes that of British folk hero: Howard Marks. Marks, admired by millions of cannabis enthusiasts for his audacity and intellect, was also deported, in this case from Spain, to the US after falling victim to a DEA investigation. He now enjoys a fruitful career as a bestselling author, stand-up comedian and musician amongst many other activities he engages in.
In an email to his wife, posted on Twitter, Mark explained that he is “excited, for sure” and that he is “showed and shaved and ready to go”.
At the time of his sentencing in 2010 the DEA described the event as a “significant blow” to the cannabis legalisation movement. I’m sure we can all enjoy the poetic justice that he is being released to a country with 23 states that allow cannabis for medical use, 17 that have decriminalised the plant and two which allow its use for recreational purposes and revel in the fact that norms, values and attitudes are finally turning the tides in our direction.
So what is next for arguable the most influential cannabis activist of all time? Marc was involved in drives to become the mayor of the Canadian city of Vancouver in 1996, 2002 and 2008. Should he run again we wish him all the luck in the world!