Marc Emery - The Prince of Pot Is Home!


Since being involved in the cannabis reform movement, I have come to know and meet many iconic figureheads over the last few years; individuals who have created and inspired mass momentum for the cannabis reform movement on a global scale. In early December, it was quite an honor to strike a conversation with one of these iconic figureheads, the "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery! After his release from a 4 1/2 year U.S. federal prison sentence in early August, Marc Emery has finally returned and is in the comfort of his home in Vancouver, British Columbia!

AUSTIN420: How does it feel to be home?

MARC: It feels strange enough just like it used to. I'm in a new apartment and the store is exactly the way it was just slightly advanced, I am really enjoying it. I hardly recall being in prison even though I was in for 4 ½ years. It's like a faded memory or some old TV series I watched. I wasn't really there, I was just sort of observing it. I guess it was because nothing traumatic happened to me or scarred me, so the experience for me was not a negative one.Jodie visited me on 81 occasions out of I believe 165 days and then she spent that much time in travel, so that was like 11 months of her life, visiting me or traveling to visit me.So that was pretty considerate. (voice in the back ground) Jodie says hi!

AUSTIN420: Tell her I said Hello. Were you treated well while going through this experience?

MARC: The inmates treated me fine. The guards were more or less just professional. With some of the TV shows I had done in America on the Discovery Channel and on National Geographic airing several times over the time of my incarceration, a lot of the inmates got to see me in a public professional setting which was really helpful. A lot of people knew me before I even got there in the prison system, some people had even ordered seeds from me, others knew about Cannabis Culture, our various television shows, so I was always treated very well, plus I kept very busy. I read a book every 10 days. I had 25 magazine subscriptions. I had a daily subscription to The New York Times, I did a New York Times Sunday crossword everyday and I learned to play the bass guitar and got into a rock and roll band with practice every day; we had 14 concerts and about 140 songs. We did that for about 3 years which was incredibly beneficial.

AUSTIN420: Wow that's amazing. So it definitely kept your mind busy for sure.

MARC: Yeah, I did not age that much, I essentially look the same as I did when I went in. I have less gray hair now then I had when I went in. Actually I do not know how that is even possible. In prison for me there was not much stress where there's a lot of stress in the real world. I had to make goals and so all the stress went onto Jodie’s shoulders, so she had a more difficult time than I did through the whole experience. Most of her money was going to pay to visit me, my commissary account, paying for phone calls, emails, and stuff like that. She spent 4 ½ years of her life essentially paying bills on my behalf and the previous 5 years before that, waiting for me to be extradited, so our entire 10 years together has been under a really lot of pressure. When she first got involved with me in April 2004, I went to jail for 3 months just for passing a joint, so she has had to deal with a lot with me going to jail as well as a lot of adversity based around that kind of tension and anxiety.

AUSTIN420: How were you able to maintain such a close connection with your family?

MARC: Jodie and I have always been tremendously close. I have known her since she was 16, got involved with her when she was 19. She is about to turn 30 now. We have been married for 9 years, so we are intentionally close and we're enjoying our relationship more now than ever before. It's the first time in 30 years I am not trying to go to jail or facing the conditions of incarceration or being in jail. I have been going to jail for civil disobedience since 1988 and that's a tremendously long time, 26 years. She has seen me get arrested many times and it has been very traumatic for her, so now we are enjoying this period where I'm not facing arrest. I have no restrictions but everyone in the world wants to give me a life-time achievement award. I just received 3 in Europe (in Spain, Vienna, & in the Netherlands). It's a really nice period because I'm not facing incarceration. I don't have any stress about it. I don't have much money, so I've been working hard to increase the sales of the store so I can generate a lively-hood. We've added the seed desk, we've added a lot of modern things to make our building more attractive because we have a very competitive environment in Vancouver. In the last 6 years we have had 55 Compassion Clubs open up in the city, many lounges, and lots of pipe and bong shops. There are now 100's of seed stores. There is just a lot of marijuana activity because it is a very pot friendly environment, so it's encouraging for people to compete, so that makes it challenging.

AUSTIN420: What effect do you believe your time away has had on the Legalization Movement in both the U.S. and Canada?

MARC: I served as a good figure head in my incarceration for the movement, but all my really great work was done in the period for which I was put in Jail. For example, we raised a lot of money, we gave 5 million dollars away from 1995 to 2008 for the legalization of cannabis in the U.S., Canada, and around the world. I was giving money to politicians, various activists groups, and rally's. You know there was so much activity going on with that money and that's where I was making an impact, but you do not often see the results until years and years later. So the acknowledgments I am getting now, really doesn't reflect the activity I did in prison, it actually reflects what my wife Jodie did with the work, that was really good especially in the Washington initiative where she campaigned with the guy who wrote it, which was my prosecutor, John McKay. The Mayor of Vancouver who had me arrested me four times and said he would drive me out of town is now a guy advocating legalization and is actually a friend of mine, which is so full of irony. A lot of good things happen, but some time you have to take the blows and also look down the road towards where we are going and we're definitely moving in a direction of tremendous success right now. We know we are going to be successful if we get Texas of all places to legalize. I'm pretty sure it will be legalized at the federal level before it gets legalized in Texas, but you know, it's even coming to Texas because I'm sure the poll numbers for legalization are improving there too.

AUSTIN420: They definitely are.

MARC: We're enjoying this really nice intellectual wave around the world, where almost anybody who is a knowledgeable politician is advocating legalization or some form of decriminalization or certainly some modernizing of the Drug War and Rand Paul has been very helpful in that regard because he's a Republican that clearly wants to reduce the impact of the Drug War and we got a lot of Democratic Activists who know how popular legalization initiatives are with the young people and in 2016, our vote is going to be very pivotal in the Presidential election and it's going to be very pivotal in Canada's National Election next year; my wife is seeking to be a candidate for the Liberal party of Canada and we're going to be campaigning in 30 cities next September and October to get our vote out for that particular party. So it's quite possible that Canada will have legal marijuana a year from today. As well as earning a living, my primary concern now is making sure Canadians get out to vote and vote for that party; we'll see what happens.

AUSTIN420: I've been thinking about your story and everything you and Jodie had to go through, how has this experience inspired you now?

MARC: The experience inspired me in that I proved to myself I could get through it because prison is a day to day thing, right. If you start to think about the future or reflecting on the past or start thinking about things you miss. People ask, “Do you miss things? Do you miss Marijuana?" I did not miss anything. I looked forward to visits with my wife, but other than that I did not miss anything. There weren't foods I craved. I did not really think about accessing things in the real world, I was content with what I had and knew that if I kept busy, the time would go by quickly and I would be home in that time. And it's remarkable how quickly 4 ½ years goes man, life is short; even in prison the time goes by quickly.How are you doing by the way? I hear you have a story.

AUSTIN420: I am doing pretty good. I have Muscular Dystrophy and just continuing to push the efforts here in Texas; I just recently just got done speaking at the Baker Institute at Rice University here in Texas, and so we're having a new medical panel starting to take off; it has been a very exciting time. In closing,what do you want to say to the people out there?

MARC: My sympathies go out to the people in the heartland because in jail I got 7 ½ thousand letters and 6 ½ thousand were from Americans. I do not even count one fellow who sent me, I am not kidding you, a letter every day I was in prison as well as reproductions, reprints, magazine articles, cartoons; man the guy sent me all sort of cool stuffThat's the kind of people that exist in America. Determined people. I didn't get letters from the big cities as much. I got a lot of letters from Texas, people saying how tough Texas cops were, how long the sentences were. Or Louisiana, where people get sentenced to longer time than anybody else in America and in more frequent numbers too. I would get lots of letters from those people because they knew what it was like to get their ass kicked by cops, by bad drug laws. Most of America has to suffer through quite a lot of oppression and I enjoyed reading letters from those people and sending notes back encouraging them to keep the faith.Certainlythis is no time for people to be giving up, getting jaded, cynical or depressed about the future because the future is going to look great for us, but that being said, marijuana won't legalize itself, so people still have to keep up all the energy we're putting up. Guys like you, making appearances, making people feel the pain, feel the need, feel the energy for change and why it has to happen; determined people who just simply won't be turned around are who are going to change the world in our movement. Guys like you and everyone else in NORML and all the Texas people just got to keep plugging away and never let them think that it won't happen because it's going to happen.

AUSTIN420: That is inspiring man, you got me all charged up here. ~