If you have ever attended a Marc Emery speech you’ll know that they are as articulate as they are entertaining. Cannabis supporters in Malta’s capital got a taste of his passionate approach to advocacy on Tuesday when he spoke at a small gathering organized by ReLeaf, a national pro-cannabis group.
After logging nine weeks and seven countries of what will be a three-month tour, Emery decided the town of Valleta was in dire need of some Canadian cannabis wisdom.
In a lengthy Facebook Live video, in which only his torso remains in frame, Emery says he decided to make a stop in Malta just a few weeks prior to arriving. After receiving several articles from the organization alerting him to the country’s “appalling” state of cannabis affairs and the imprisonment of Christopher Bartolo, he made time for the quick appearance between stops in Uruguay and Barcelona.
This destination, however, turned out to be uniquely personal for Emery, who went well beyond his standard push to globalize a grassroots pot nation. The Prince of Pot ditched his dress-down garb and dawned a simple grey suit and tie—something he hasn't done much of in recent years, or almost at all since the early 2000's when he campaigned as the "suited activist." The attire even inspired one audience member to shout out “whats with the suit?!”
It was a tribute. Emery explains by telling a story of his father’s service in the British Royal Navy during WWII, noting that in the early 1940’s his father had served on the HMS Pakenham before it sank just off the coast of Malta. His father also got his only tattoo, a bald eagle with the name Betty scrawled across it, just a few blocks from the event. “The reason I am Canadian is entirely because of Malta,” he says, continuing into the story of his father’s unrequited war romance which ends in his immigration to Canada.
My Dad in Malta in 1944 in the British Royal Navy. Dad spent 1941-1944 in the defense of Malta; in convoys from South Africa, bringing supplies; laying down anti-submarine netting in the Malta harbours; attacking U-Boats at sea. His destroyer Pakenham was sunk in April 1943. pic.twitter.com/DoVCKk6Ii0— Marc Emery (@MarcScottEmery) March 8, 2018
Emery goes on for the next two hours, brushing on a number of topics relating not only to Malta’s current struggle with cannabis persecution but the global legalization movement.
Several times he doubles back to discuss the arrest of Christopher Bartolo—a 37-year-old kidney transplant patient who was jailed and sentenced to five years in prison after being caught with 167 grams of medical cannabis. During his arrest Maltese police denied Bartolo’s right to legal council and while in prison his donated organ failed, forcing him back onto dialysis. Calling out the country’s Prime Minister and Justice Minister directly, Emery dubbed this the most “egregious violation of human rights” in modern history.
“If Christopher Bartolo goes to jail again, I’m going to blame you,” he adds, urging the room of local activists to make more noise. Bartolo has since been released on bail and currently remains on house arrest.
Emery wasn’t shy to take on Canada’s new legislation either, calling it “odious, appalling and hypocritical” and stated that Health Canada still does not fully acknowledge the medicinal value of cannabis. “It has gotten worse, except for the few government-sanctioned retailers,” he says. "I did not fight for the rights of multimillionaire Americans to come in, steal our culture and monopoloze it."
Emery, neither a fan of brevity nor political correctness, goes on a few eyebrow raising tangents in the video—none of which are shocking to anyone familiar with his effectively brash brand of advocacy. Some topics garner a few mixed reactions from the audience. Had the camera not been pointed at his stomach the whole time, we may have been able to tell whether those were murmers of shock or support. (We’ll never know!) In some of his more sensationalized moments Emery takes on Christianity, in which he summarizes his reasoning behind believing anyone “against cannabis [is] against Jesus.” He also pulls out his go-to “the government is evil” and “law is a form of civil war” backgrounders, just to drive home his distaste for any type of political interference with any type of plant.
The life long cannabis soldier, who has himself been imprisoned 39 times across North America, encouraged the room not to be afraid of jail. “The concept of prison is one that is designed to put fear into you,” he says, adding that his best writing and thinking came out of spending time locked behind bars. “Just start growing [cannabis], and do so under the premise that if one of you gets persecuted the rest will show up to their aid,” he adds later.
This event comes just two days shy of the anniversary of his most recent, and arguably most high-profile, arrest at Pearson International Airport. Both he and his wife, Jodie Emery, pleaded guilty to a variety of criminal offences relating to cannabis, including trafficking, and both were individually fined $195,000.
You can follow the rest of the pot tour on Emery's Facebook page. The next stop will be Barcelona, where he plans to visit a tribute to women historically executed for practicing cannabinoid and plant medicine.