Marc Emery has returned to Canada.
After spending almost five years in the United States incarcerated for selling marijuana seeds via mail, the Vancouver-based Prince of Pot is a free man.
On August 12, Emery immediately used waiting microphones to resume his work as a activist.
“Canadian politicians are the most gutless group of people I have ever seen,” he said at a news conference in Windsor, Ontario, convened just hours after his release. “They don’t want to bring up marijuana. They are afraid of it. After 45 years, really, they’re still afraid of it? Is this what we’ve got?...We are going to have to reclaim our democracy and get marijuana legalized next election.”
Emery left the custody of U.S. immigration officers and crossed the border from Detroit into Windsor, where he was reunited with his wife, Jodie. (It was just minutes before 4:20 p.m. local time.)
The couple plans to return to Vancouver on the morning of August 17, Jodie told the Straight in an August 10 interview. On that day, there’s a gathering planned for Victory Square across from the Cannabis Culture Headquarters at 307 West Hastings Street.
“I’m definitely excited,” she said. “A little stunned, almost.”
Reunions and celebrations will be followed by a trip abroad that will serve both as a vacation and an opportunity for the Emerys to take their calls for marijuana reform to an international stage.
The Straight last spoke with Emery in June. On the phone from Yazoo City Prison in Mississippi, he revealed political ambitions that he and Jodie shared. Emery explained that his wife would seek the federal Liberal nomination for Vancouver East and that he would play a supporting role in that venture.
“We’ll be trying to get young people out,” Emery said. “It’s really important to motivate them to go out and vote for the Liberal party, because they could also split the vote between the Greens and the NDP, and I really don’t want to see that happen.”
Emery and Jodie became vocal proponents of the Liberals when in 2012 party leader Justin Trudeau revealed he was a “huge supporter of decriminalization” and subsequently announced plans to legalize and regulate the drug. In a show of support, the Emerys have planned a 30-stop cross-country tour beginning in early September 2015, just ahead of the federal election scheduled for the following month.
About to do a press conference pic.twitter.com/FCrBW22r1A— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) August 12, 2014
Emery was never convicted of breaking Canadian law. The arrest that led to his incarceration occurred in 2005, when he was apprehended by Vancouver police officers working with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Emery has long described himself as a political prisoner and maintained that he was persecuted for his work as an activist pushing for marijuana reform.
Asked if he was at all concerned that the marijuana issue could backfire and become a liability for the Liberals, Emery argued that Trudeau has taken a position that has growing support from the public.
“For the first time in 40 years, the majority of Canadians are highly sympathetic to my point of view,” he said.
Emery claimed he has no plans to run for office, but he added that he expects politics to still consume the majority of his time.
“Getting rid of Stephen Harper and making sure Justin Trudeau is elected along with the Liberal party is a pretty major job,” he said. “Really, the only job that I’m going to have in the next year.”