Marc Emery: Toronto police raids on cannabis dispensaries uphold interests of corporate marijuana producers

The Vancouver marijuana activist is proud of his wife Jodie for speaking the truth to power

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      Jodie and I are living in momentous times. The Cannabis Culture cannabis shop at 512 Beatty Street has been ordered closed by the City of Vancouver. Our Cannabis Culture lounges on Davie and Hastings streets have been told to stop allowing consumption of cannabis.

      Yet the same City of Vancouver supports and licenses a lounge for individuals who buy unknown drugs and inject them or snort them into their lungs only blocks away, Insite. This is a facility for injecting very dangerous drugs under supervision.

      The City of Vancouver licenses thousands of facilities to serve alcohol, and every day someone dies from alcohol, and the lives of all of us are at some point seriously disrupted by the behaviour of those emerging from those places inebriated on alcohol. The City of Vancouver licenses hundreds of pharmaceutical drug dispensaries, though prescription drugs and on-street opioids are killing thousands of Canadians each year.

      No one ever died from cannabis. Our Cannabis Culture lounge, operating for 10 years now and having hosted more than one million individuals to our facility, has never had to call emergency or police services for any kind of health or public-safety situation. Note that once again: we have never, in 10 years and one million people in our pot-friendly lounge, ever had a fight or conflict or overdose or…anything…that ever required police or medics.

      That's quite incredible. 

      Because cannabis is like that. Its safe for all concerned.

      On Thursday, May 26, the Toronto Police Service staged its largest targeted mass-arrest since Operation Soap against gay men’s bath houses way back in February 1981. Ninety-five-plus arrests, 43 dispensaries raided, $5 million in food products, oils, buds, and extracts seized. Landlords threatened, battering rams used. 

      Jodie hammered this point to the world at the subsequent press conference held by Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders. Jodie confronted the whole ideology inherent in the severe crackdown by Toronto police on Thursday, May 26.

      Jodie had entered the chief of police press conference at Toronto police headquarters. The chief was there to explain the rationale behind this enormous use of armed and armoured police power, which included several hundred police, battering rams, stampeding cop herds, trashed offices and stores, arrest and search warrants, Kevlar vests, assault rifles, and narcs dressed as construction workers screaming for handcuffs and terrifying citizens.  

      But the chief never made any coherent sense. Essentially, he ordered the largest targeted raid and use of police resources in modern police history because he was unsure of the effect of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in edible foods. Finally Jodie and Jeremiah Vandermeer from POT.TV/Cannabis Culture had had enough.

      “Where is the harm from these products? Who was harmed? Where are the victims? Show us the victims?!” they demanded, and the chief fell to pieces from there.

      The chief responded: “I don’t have any data on that.”

      No data? You mean after years of dispensaries and compassion clubs selling hundreds of thousands of cookies, cakes, gummy bears, edibles, oils, and caps that the Toronto chief of police has no knowledge or data about any single person who may have been harmed by the activity he has amassed an armada to combat! No data?! None. And none was produced after the news conference.

      This is the crux of the whole deal, citizens. If the chief of police of the fourth largest city in North America can’t show ANY demonstrable harm of any kind going on over months and years of these dispensaries existence selling edible THC foods…. how can a violent mass police action like Black Thursday, May 26, happen in a western liberal democracy?

      This is the paradox of Prohibition. 

      I was out front leading a protest in front of Toronto police headquarters when Jodie’s persistent “Where is the harm to justify this police action?” drove the chief out of his own press conference. Jodie then gave her classic speech to the assembled media, which over one million people have since viewed online, best captured on Global News

      [Watch the video below.]

      Jodie Emery slams the Toronto police crackdown on marijuana.

      Listening to Jodie at the press conference and in her speech, there was an “Emperor Has No Clothes” moment to it.

      Just simple questions from a few free-thinking individuals: ‘Why is THC a big concern all of a sudden? Where’s the harm? Who are the victims?"

      There are one or two more I would like to ask the chief, who repeated the stock Health Canada line: “Only licensed producers are allowed to provide medical marijuana, which is safe and regulated.”

      Here's my question to the chief, since he has appointed himself interpreter of the health and safety of Toronto citizens' access to cannabis: “What are the 99 percent unknown ingredients in Monsanto Actinovate SP fungicide that is approved by Health Canada for use on the government-regulated licensed-producer weed that you say is safe and healthy ?”

      When Chief Saunders heard the “Where is the harm? Who are the victims?” he had no answer. With cameras from every major media carrying the presser live, the look on Chief Saunder’s face was incomprehension. A knockout moment because no one had ever asked that question directly to a Prohibitionist live with cameras rolling. 

      The chief kept referring to Health Canada talking points, which are the licensed producer talking points. He had no way to prove these edibles were safe! But of course whatever the government’s regulated labs were selling us was somehow safe. Saunders himself is inconsequential in this context. His job is to robotically spout standard Prohibition propaganda.

      Chief Saunders was not talking at any point in his press conference about good police work. He wasn’t talking about protecting and helping people. He had no danger he was taking off the streets. He had several thousand chocolates and cakes and numerous bags of marijuana worth $5 million in all.

      Looting that from dispensaries is a considerable hurt to a lot of people: 90 people charged have to get lawyers, get fingerprinted, and to go court. Millions in taxpayer resources will be used for no good end.

      Ugly images of battering rams and destroyed dispensaries resulted from the chief’s confusion over what THC does, how it works, and how safe is it. He publicly justified one of the biggest targeted raids in Canadian history by saying he didn’t know how much THC was in those brownies.

      But finally a Prohibitionist mouthpiece was called out on the outrageousness of such a justification. They were the standard lies, but he was not called out by any member of the mainstream press. They asked the chief how much THC is dangerous because the mainstream media narrative is still marijuana is dangerous and thus the government is here to help us.

      The chief was called out on his empty cupboard by a free-thinking individual. What really got called out, though, was not the chief, but Prohibition. What “hijacked” the press conference was the truth. That’s the reason it got an enormous media reaction.

      Legalization czar had some odd ideas

      It’s all rather unbelievable though, isn’t it?

      It was called Operation Claudia, named after a storm, in honour of the storm troopers that Chief Saunders and Mayor John Tory were sending in. Reefer Madness meets Rambo. 

      On Tuesday, May 24, legalization czar Bill Blair, the Liberal MP for Scarborough Southwest—himself dissected in my previous Straight blog “Bill The Narc”—met with licensed producers to hear their cries for their market monopoly. Voila, 48 hours later, deliverance was theirs. 

      You see at one time, according to his comments to the Financial Post of May 24, 2016, "Blair said he was ‘personally skeptical’ that pot could be produced in a healthy way.”

      The person chosen by the Canadian government in the 21st century to organize “legalization” didn’t believe marijuana could be grown in a safe and healthy manner when he took the job.

      Bill saw marijuana as unique in the world. It was the only plant that could not be grown safely using water, light, and soil. 

      Then a revelation—an epiphany!—happened to our Bill. “I have come to believe it is possible...for marijuana to be produced in a way that maximizes safety for Canadians,” he told the Financial Post

      It was a miracle! Bill the Botanist had seen the $light$. He discovered the LPs and with them the road to New Prohibition eternity and salvation.

      If the LPs had not coincidentally come along to show Bill that weed can be grown in a Monsanto-healthy manner, would true legalization be doomed because nobody could grow it safely?

      If their “safe” propaganda collapses, as it did during that Toronto chief of police new conference, so do the police raids, and so does their New Prohibition.

      Why did Bill have this bizarre belief that marijuana was the only plant in the world that could not be grown in a safe and healthy manner? 

      Because Bill and his ilk, which certainly includes recently appointed legalization task force head Anne McLellan, believe the cannabis plant is inherently evil and evil is not a healthy substance. It is a sin to grow evil. However, evil can be profitable and politically beneficial.

      McLellan, on numerous occasions as a cabinet minister for Jean Chrétien, referred to marijuana as dangerous. As a cabinet minister she obstructed and resisted every court order to initiate a federal medical marijuana program.

      As a reminder, Bill was at various times a narc, head of the Toronto police “morality squad”, and the top cop when more than 900 were arrested at the G20 summit in 2010. 

      Now these two will filter all the information they receive and craft legislation that will “legalize” marijuana. 

      Legalization isn't taking place

      Blair told iPolitics on May 16, in its piece “Will Canada violate international conventions if it legalizes pot?...":

        • “Canada is not merely proposing to legalize marijuana. We’re proposing instead to replace the current criminal sanction with an effective regulatory scheme, which will enable us to fulfill our obligation to our international partners." (The italics on “merely” are from the original text.)
        • "We’re looking at replacing the criminal sanctions with a very strict, regulatory regime. We intend to control production, distribution, and consumption of marijuana...which, in my opinion, will not put us in violation of the [UN] conventions.”

      So Bill is not proposing to legalize marijuana. To merely legalize marijuana would be to legalize marijuana. Period. Like anything else, that would be the end of it.

      The market and public demand take over.

      But marijuana is not like everything else to these people. They need to preserve all the police budgets, to collect ripoff taxes, to keep prices high, to maintain the stigma on pot users, to push the pot people around, to condescend to them, and to continue to arrest them and fine them when we do it our way.

      True legalization would see the cannabis culture treated as fully mature citizens who can make up their own minds regarding their cannabis use and access. But instead we are treated like children whose parents hold us in constant contempt for being the kind of child they never wanted to have. So every day there must be punishment, sanctions, and condescension from those authorities who insist they want "legalization".

      How far will the Prohibitionists go to maintain their hateful, sadistic ideology that crosses party lines? 

      (You don’t see the Trudeau Liberals repealing any of 10 years' worth of Stephen Harper legislation, do you? Nor do the NDP even bring up repealing the Harper years now. All that fuss about Bill C51 and our eroding rights and it turns out that CSIS was giving away any information about any Canadian that any foreign government requested. “Accidentally” the government says.)

      The Toronto police raids tell all. They are not raiding because there is “harm”. That doesn’t enter their minds. That’s why Chief Saunders had no answer to Jodie’s question of “who is harmed by these dispensaries?” The chief looked lost and very uneasy each time it was asked.

      They are doing it because they can. It's sadistic misuse of power on peaceful and honest human behaviour, targeting a huge swatch of people who are integrated peacefully and without friction into the community. This should require some massive propaganda campaigns because otherwise, how can decent people tolerate an extraordinary mass roundup in Canada’s largest city over chocolate and brownies? 

      This happened even as dozens die every month from fentanyl, which Toronto police claim to be helpless before its scourge???? That health concern is real, that's actually happening, and Chief Saunders has nothing for you there. The McDonald's, the Shoppers Drug Marts, the beer available at every Blue Jays game, et cetera—all those City of Toronto-approved licensed providers are supplying products that kill people daily.

      The City of Toronto licenses thousands of business that sell things intended for your consumption that will kill you; sugars, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, additives, carcinogens, salts, fats, colours, dyes, preservatives, carbohydrates, and all their various derivatives.

      But no one has shown in any way by empirical evidence that any of the food seized at 43 dispensaries was in any way harmful. Yet thousands of people whom that THC-infused food was intended for had it hijacked by hundreds of violent police troopers of ‘Storm’ Claudia.

      The whole nasty show by sadists in power makes clear they intend to co-opt our entire cannabis culture by nationalization and seizure of the cannabis industry through regulations and law.

      How safe are government-regulated plants?

      “We don’t like to see anybody get arrested... But equally, we do believe in rules.” —Mark Zekulin, Tweed CEO, to the Globe and Mail on May 28, 2016.

      Police arrests and jail and a criminal record are no longer just the law. They are no longer only restricted to criminal acts they were designed to deter. They have become a handy set of business “rules” the LPs desperately need to guarantee an exclusive market.

      The LPs boast that their weed is safe, and that the over one million Canadians who have purchased from a cannabis shop or dispensary are fooling themselves when they claim they are perfectly happy buying from those storefront operations. 

      But this gives me an opportunity to ask the question, how safe and healthy are these government-regulated plants?  After all, how safe and healthy was the government’s Prohibition of the last 50 years? How safe are any foods in an industrial-food system anyway?

      The chief said we don’t know if dispensary weed is “safe” or not because we don’t know what’s in it. This safety concern for content was the reason for the raids, said Saunders. Like MP Blair, the chief has come to believe that only government-licensed producers can grow safe weed. This is, Saunders explained, because we apparently know what's in it.

      But that is not true. One major chemical approved for use of LP weed is almost completely unknown in its content and effects. Monsanto’s Actinovate SP is a spray that is approved for use on LP weed. But 99 percent of the ingredients are listed as unknown.

      Chemicals that we do know are also approved for use on LP cannabis; they have been approved for use on edible products, not something you heat, combust, and inhale. They are:

      1. MilStop Follar Fungicide

      2. Opal Insecticidal Soap

      3. Neudosan Commercial

      4. Kopa Insecticidal Soap

      5. Rootshield HC Biological Fungicide Wettable Powder

      6) Rootshield WP Biological Fungicide

      Along with 15 percent "other ingredients", MilStop Foliar Fungicide lists its main ingredient (85 percent) as the chemical potassium bicarbonate. Potassium bicarbonate is dangerous when heated and inhaled and can cause side effects such as confusion, uneven heartbeat, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and anxiety.

      Kopa Insecticidal Soap is 47 percent potassium salts of fatty acids, a substance that in rats given high doses “caused reproductive and developmental effects”.

      Then all LP cannabis is irradiated to make it really “safe”.

      So this Monsanto Kush weed is what the government wants us all to have. Highly regulated, Monsanto-ready.

      The Conservative Harper policy on pot blends seamlessly into the Liberal Trudeau policy on pot, the licensed producers insisting that all other producers and sellers be eliminated from the market. Their collective vision is clear. 

      Jodie and I don’t have a vision like that. Our Cannabis Culture brand is on a retail cannabis shop at 801 Queen Street West and 711 Queen Street East in Toronto where you can buy marijuana if you are 19 years and older and have valid ID. Period. That's what legalization looks like. The market sets the price, the consumer makes the demands, people go into business to serve that demand, and people order online or go to a nearby retail outlet. Simple, safe, democratic, just. 

      To any marijuana consumer, that is legalization. The price will plummet once Canadian farmers with thousands of hectares of land start growing outdoor cannabis on a mass scale. Thousands of stores across Canada will provide outlets. Stores will be run by Canadians who love cannabis and appreciate it, without restriction or favour or exclusion.

      Science and medicine will explode with new discoveries and developments. No more government-imposed stigma, no more politics about cannabis. Legal and accessible for all to grow, sell, consume, and research!

      That’s what true legalization looks like. And it's worth fighting for.

      Marc Emery is a long-time crusader for marijuana legalization and the founder of Cannabis Culture Headshop and Vapor Lounge at 1674 Davie Street in Vancouver. For years, his company's original location at 307 West Hastings Street was the only Vancouver business to allow pot consumption indoors.

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