Colourful, abrasive and fiercely provocative, Canadian Marc Emery is world renowned as “The Prince of Pot”. He has made a career out of picking fights with the powers-that-be, first as a libertarian activist, and now as a campaigner for the decriminalisation of marijuana. But his marijuana seed mail-order business has run him up against a big enemy: the draconian US Drug Enforcement Administration. Now he faces extradition to the States and a lifetime in jail.
“Finally, I’ve got the big David and Goliath battle I’ve always been seeking. You know, I must have been goading them all along”, explains Emery. Comparing himself to legendary activists Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, Emery states, "we need martyrs, we need heroes."
Certainly Emery’s goading has won him few friends at the DEA. One official estimates that 60% of marijuana busts within the US could be linked back to The Prince of Pot himself. “Let me be perfectly clear why Marc Emery was charged. He set out from the very beginning to violate the laws of the United States and was targeted as a drug trafficker. If those facts turn out to be true he is a criminal and deserves to be held accountable for what he has done.”
Former Mayor of Vancouver Larry Campbell talks of the degree of hatred within the DEA for the upstart Emery, “They’ll bury him so deep we’ll be sending him sunshine in a tin can. He needs to realise that life in a US jail is no picnic.”
What makes Campbell angry is the degree to which the US have been able to bully Canadian authorities into acting for them. Emery’s activities had largely been ignored by Canadian officials until a decriminalisation bill was presented to parliament. It was only US threats to close down the border which prevented the bill from passing into law. “The American approach to drugs is a threat to Canada in general,” he admits.
In the face of all the evidence, the United States believes that marijuana is “everything from a common health risk, to a gateway to crime, dangerous driving and irresponsible sex.” But this attitude does not sit well across the border in Canada. Until the DEA got involved the maximum penalty Emery had faced was a few days in jail. The issue here is not so much the drug but the funding Emery provides to the liberalisation movement and in turn, the threat this poses to zero tolerance. This is why the DEA have numbered Emery at number 40 on their most wanted list and why the proposed life sentences are so severe.
The immensely colourful cast of this character-led story charts the way through the the pros and cons of the liberalisation movement as well as the threat posed to Canadian sovereignty by its overbearing neighbour. At times blackly despairing, and at others laugh-out loud ridiculous, this is an enthralling watch. Will Emery survive to carry on his campaign to, “Overgrow the government”? Watch this space.
Real to Reel