The Windsor Independent
July 16, 2016
Chatting with the “Princess of Pot” about her. Cannabis Culture franchise with Marc Emery, the movement they continue to fight for, the Liberal Government and her simple solution to the problem.
In late May, Toronto Police launched Project Claudia, targeting 43 illegal cannabis storefronts, arresting 90, laying 186 charges, and seizing insignificant amounts of cannabis and related products.
The next day, Marc and Jodie Emery were planning to celebrate the launch of their first two Cannabis Culture franchise locations in Toronto. These stores were different because rather than selling under the auspices of medical marijuana, they would sell recreational cannabis to anyone over the age of 19.
And sell they did.
The stores opened and customers lined up outside and sales went off without a hitch for about a month, until Toronto Police raided one of Cannabis Culture’s Toronto locations in late June. But that didn’t stop Marc Emery from flying to Toronto from Vancouver to reopen the shop the next day.
And the movement continued.
The day before the second round of raids, I spoke with Jodie Emery about her cannabis activism, the decision to franchise Cannabis Culture into recreational cannabis stores, and the future of legalization.
“Things have been going well, there has been enormous support, people are genuinely enthusiastic and love what we are doing,” said Jodie Emery. “They believe cannabis access should be available for all and not just the sick, so our model is to provide access to everyone for whatever reason it’s up to them as responsible adults to use it as they see fit.”
The Emerys are Canada’s most well-known cannabis activists and they’re seeking to ensure that those who helped to build the movement – and arguably the broader industry through normalizing cannabis use and laws through court cases will have a role within the legal industry.
“Cannabis Culture is known around the world as being leaders in advocacy and activism… we’re the ones who are going to be setting the model for what recreational sales should look like…” she said. “But because legalization means all adults are going to be able to use marijuana recreationally or medically, we need to set up a model for how it should be distributed.”
She’s been actively seeking a seat on the cannabis legalization task force which is being set up in Ottawa by Trudeau’s pot-czar Bill Blair, former Toronto Police Chief, but the government has made clear they’re not interested in activists serving in such a capacity.
“I’m disappointed in the Liberal Party because they’re talking more about the continuation of the status quo, they don’t want to change anything at all, they want to continue arrests, and to continue to allow the black market to control the industry,” she said. “Meanwhile, they claim their wait and see approach will somehow make a difference, but it won’t.”
While Jodie may be an activist, there is a strain of realism which runs through her, and she noted that she wouldn’t be surprised if she never got a seat on the task force.
“Being Jodie Emery, married to Marc Emery, being the most notorious activist in Canada… clearly we’re not friends of the establishment and therefore I don’t know if I’m going to be hearing back from them,” she said. “But Bill Blair did introduce himself to me in Ottawa and did say he would like to speak further… so I’m ready anytime.”
Jodie won’t deter from her cannabis activism because she doesn’t believe the government is going to legalize cannabis the best way possible.
“As we see with all government activities, they’re never working on behalf of the people, they’re always working for self-interest, and they’re always paying more attention to people with big power, money and influence rather than the little guys, including the activists,” she said.
For Jodie, the solution to the problem is simple: remove cannabis from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and allow people to do “whatever they wish” with cannabis.
“Obviously there’s regulations about businesses and where you can open. We don’t need hyperactive or hysterical regulations around marijuana safety, because people are using marijuana…setup basic simple regulations about sale and distribution without having any extra added SIN taxes….”
“This industry exists, the consumers exist, we’re all just criminalized, and it would be nice to not be criminalized,” she added.
Jon Liedtke is a medical marijuana user, authorized under the MMAR and permitted use through the current injunction, the co-owner of Higher Limits, Canada’s largest cannabis lounge, and a director of the Canadian Cannabis Confederation, an organization actively seeking to bridge the gap between the cannabis industry, cannabis community, and the public at large, including government and media.
JODIE EMERY: the pursuit of pot activism
July 15, 2016
Jon Liedtke was a co-owner and business development manager for The Windsor Independent.