Vancouver's most famous marijuana crusader returned home today to a sea of supporters at Victory Square.
With the words "Marc Emery is in the house", a crowd rushed to the north end of the square to catch a glimpse, a hug, or a handshake with the entrepreneur and activist who spent more than four years in six U.S. prisons.
A week ago, Emery returned across the border to Windsor, Ontario. Today, he made his first appearance at home in Vancouver.
Fittingly, it was across the street from the offices of his businesses, including Cannabis Culture and Pot TV, which were operated in his absence by his wife Jodie.
"I take a lot of pride in how she has excelled in the last four years and grown and dealt with the challenges of business, of having me away, of media, of representing me and our people," Emery told a crowd of about 250 people. "And I would have to say she was so capable, so talented, and I really want to thank you Jodie for being amazing and giving me all the sustenance I needed to cope with prison."
Emery talked about how he met outstanding musicians in prison who taught him how to play bass guitar.
"Fortunately, I never had an unkind word said to me by inmates in four-and-a-half years," he said.
Emery maintained that the United States "has a real problem" with sentences that go on for far too long.
"Most inmates were doing 20, 30, 40 years for drugs," he said. "One in eight were doing life without parole simply for doing drugs."
Much of his speech, however, was devoted to encouraging his supporters to vote in the next federal election, which is scheduled for October 19, 2015.
Emery called this "legalization day". He said that the Liberals under Justin Trudeau are the only one of the big three parties to promise legalization of marijuana.
Jodie Emery has already announced that she's seeking the Liberal nomination in Vancouver East to run against veteran NDP MP Libby Davies.
As an MP, Davies often spoke about the injustice of extraditing Emery to the United States to serve a lengthy prison sentence.
"If you know people in Vancouver East, please ask them to support Jodie in her nomination quest...because the Liberal party is the only party that's advocating legalization," Emery stated. "The NDP certainly will not and the Conservatives oppose us to the death."
Emery also promised that he and his supporters will be reminding people in a big way that the next federal election day offers the promise of preventing people from ever being arrested again for possessing or smoking marijuana.
'You can believe we're going to have posters, banners, flags, stamps, [and] stickers saying 'October 19 is legalization day. Just show up'," he said.
He also called upon people to encourage their friends and even their grandparents to vote Liberal.
"We even get to define what legalization means because if we can talk it up and tell people, 'Here's what we need', they will know what they have to deliver," Emery said. "I think that's really important."
Prior to appearing at Victory Square, his friend and supporter David Malmo-Levine told the crowd that Emery was extradited because he heckled former U.S. drug czar John Walters during a speech he gave in Vancouver.
Emery bought a table at the November 2002 Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon at the Sheraton Wall Centre.
"That attack on the drug czar, that attack on his dignity, led to the arrest of Marc Emery for selling seeds, which led to him doing four years and two months for seeds," Malmo-Levine claimed. "For flower seeds. Nobody went to jail in alcohol prohibition for grape seeds, but Marc Emery went to jail for flower seeds, for cannabis seeds, during this prohibition. Actually, it was for insulting the drug czar that he got four years and two months in jail."
Emery said that he lived in the present tense during his prison years because there was no point drawing upon the past and he believed that the future would take care of itself.
"So I forgot how beautiful Jodie smells and I forgot how wonderful her skin feels," he said. "I was occasionally reminded in the visitation room how nice it was to kiss her."
Now that he's a free man, Emery revealed that he's smoking 15 to 20 joints per day.