Marc Emery spent four years in a Louisiana prison for selling marijuana seeds. Since his release, he’s been traveling anywhere in the world that he can connect with cannabis activists. When he’s not overseas, the Canadian-born safe access advocate is running a cannabis lounge in Toronto. Cannabis Now spoke with Emery about the global cannabis scene.
Cannabis Now: Tell us about your recent travels.
Marc Emery: Ever since I got out of prison in August of 2014, I’ve been to about 16 countries: Chile, Mexico, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, France, Spain, Turkey, Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Netherlands. I’m going to Colombia next month and Jamaica next week.
What is the marijuana scene like in some of these countries that have authoritarian governments?
Most places are making really rapid progress, including stuff that’s really off the radar, like Thailand. Even though they have a military dictatorship, and they had a hundred military police at the festival I was at — I was flattered to have so many armed escorts when I was there — they are introducing medical marijuana legislation.
I met Malaysian activists who are risking great danger providing cannabis oil for patients. I’m worried about activists in the Philippines, that the dictator there, Duterte, might consider medical marijuana people there drug pushers and round them up and execute them.
Where are things looking up?
In Colombia, with the civil war basically over, business people are returning, so they’re producing some great pot in a beautiful country in a place that’s perfect for marijuana.
In Chile, they have a medical marijuana program providing free marijuana for 4,000 patients with all different kinds of ailments and afflictions. In Slovenia I worked with Božidar Radišič, who is working with cancer patients around the clock and people with neurological diseases: epilepsy, lupus, ALS and Parkinson’s Disease.
Did you sample anything in your travels that had a different feel than what you are used to?
I did. There’s a fellow in Mexico who grew a special strain that was a combination of six sativas, and it was without question the best marijuana I’ve smoked in six or seven years. There’s also excellent marijuana in Slovenia and Spain. Most of the marijuana you smoke in Amsterdam comes from Spain, because there are no borders. You can drive around with a car full of marijuana. I was astonished, driving from Austria to Slovenia to Italy to France to Spain, and there’s nothing — you don’t even know you’re in a different country until you are there.
What are you up to in Toronto?
I’m setting an example for civil disobedience here by having Cannabis Culture, a marijuana store, and selling a vast array of marijuana to anyone 19 years and older. And people love it. We allow smoking, vaporizing, bong hitting, and we have televisions in 4K, which is the latest high definition television that you can get.
I have to ask, why haven’t you been shut down?
Well they may come, and I will get arrested eventually to prove my point that this is what legalization looks like. If you want to see legalization, then go ahead and do it. Everyday is a good day to go to jail, and I’d dare say any day is a great day to die for a cause you believe in like I believe in cannabis.