Marc Scott Emery (born February 13, 1958) is a Canadian cannabis and libertarian activist, as well as a former cannabis seed seller. United States government officials have described Emery as a drug dealer for his efforts to cultivate and sell marijuana products nationally and abroad. He is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine. He ran for mayor of the city of Vancouver in 1996 and 2002. He is sometimes called the Prince of Pot.
He is formerly a retailer of cannabis seeds for cultivation, having started Marc Emery Direct Marijuana Seeds in 1995, which he ran until it was closed by a raid by Vancouver police acting on the request of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on July 29, 2005. He currently faces extradition to the United States.
As of January 14, 2008, Marc Emery has agreed to a tentative plea-bargain with U.S. authorities. The terms of the agreement are a 5-year prison term to be served in both Canadian and U.S. prisons. In return, he is demanding the charges against his friends Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams be dropped. On March 27, 2008 the plea-bargain deal collapsed because of the refusal of the Canadian government to approve its side of the arrangement.
Emery was born and raised in London, Ontario. Marc bought and sold comics in a mail-order business from his parent's home from the time he was 14. He dropped out of high school in 1975 at age 17 to purchase a downtown used book store to rename and open City Lights on Richmond Street. Shortly thereafter, he began a three-year fight against the London Downtown Business Association for extracting mandatory fees from all core-area shops for beautification and other programs.
He first became politically active with the Libertarian Party of Canada, and ran for the Parliament under that party's banner in the 1980 federal election. He received 197 votes in London East, finishing fourth. The winner was Liberal Charles Turner.
Emery later left the Libertarians and became an organizer for the Unparty. On January 1, 1884 he and Robert Metz broke from the Unparty to form the Freedom Party of Ontario, which still exists. Although the Freedom Party rejects the term "libertarian" for philosophical reasons, it is generally considered to be a party of the libertarian right.
In 1984, Emery also successfully campaigned against London's bid for the 1991 Pan American Games, saying the city would lose millions. Emery ran as a candidate of the Freedom Party in the rural constituency of Middlesex, near London, in the 1987 provincial election. He received 499 votes for a distant fifth-place finish. The winner was Doug Reycraft of the Ontario Liberal Party.
In 1990, Emery rented the London Regional Art & Historical Museum (now called Museum London) for his first pro-pot rally. Later in 1991, Emery defied the province's Sunday shopping laws, spending time in jail. He also campaigned against London's by-law prohibiting sidewalk signs. In 1992, he was convicted for selling copies of 2 Live Crew's rap music video which was deemed obscene. This period of Emery's life is featured in the 1992 documentary film by Chris Doty called Marc Emery: Messing Up the System and the play, Citizen Marc: The Adventures of Marc Emery, scripted by London writers Chris Doty (who committed suicide at age 39 on February 2, 2006, two days before the play's final performance on February 4) and Jason Rip; the play was directed by John Gerry which opened in London on January 27, 2006. Emery was in attendance for the premiere.
Cannabis Party Activist
Emery moved back to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993, and founded a store called Hemp BC. His store played a major part in expanding Canada's semi-underground industry in cannabis-related paraphernalia. The Vancouver police conducted a major raid on Emery's store in 1996, and seized his entire stock in 1998. After this, he switched his seed business to a mail order basis, and began publishing Cannabis Culture Magazine. In 2000, he established Pot TV on the internet. Emery has described himself as a "major financial backer of almost every pro-pot effort in North America and many more around the world."
He was an active member the Marijuana Party of Canada, a political party running to fully legalize (not just decriminalize) cannabis. He also helped found the British Columbia Marijuana Party, which he currently leads. Emery ran for the Canadian House of Commons for a second time in the 2000 federal election, and finished sixth out of ten candidates in Vancouver Centre with 1,116 votes. Liberal Hedy Fry won the riding.
The BCMP placed fifth in the 2001 provincial election and was only a few hundred votes short of 4th place. Emery himself received 905 votes in Vancouver-Burrard, finishing fourth against BC Liberal Lorne Mayencourt.
Emery has been the BC Marijuana Party's president since its founding, and also became party leader after the 2001 election, when Brian Taylor resigned to protest what he described as Emery's control over the party. Taylor said that Emery's personal management of the Marijuana Party was "appropriate for [the] election because it was an emergency, but it is no way to run a political party".
In 2003, when the prohibition of cannabis in Ontario was in limbo, Emery launched "the Summer of Legalization" a national campaign to legalize cannabis, as featured in the documentary Escape to Canada.
On October 18, 2004, he was released from the Saskatoon correctional centre in Saskatoon after serving his 90 day sentence for passing a joint. Shortly after this arrest, he made the following comments about Canada's Minister of Justice, Irwin Cotler: "Cotler was a life-long human rights advocate, and as Justice Minister, he has presided over a record number of prosecutions of marijuana possession, prosecutions of marijuana cultivation, and marijuana selling. I thought the term Jewish-Nazi, or Nazi-Jew, was an oxymoron until Cotler became the Injustice Minister. What a disgrace he is to his Jewish roots."
In the 2005 British Columbia election, Emery ran in Fort Langley-Aldergrove against provincial Solicitor General Rich Coleman, but was defeated.
On July 30, 2008, Emery announced he was running for mayor of Vancouver in the November election, and MLA in the upcoming by-election for the constituency of Vancouver-Fairview which remains vacant after Gregor Robertson won the Vision Vancouver nomination to run for mayor.
Federal NDP Supporter
In federal politics, Emery has been a public supporter of the New Democratic Party since 2003 as a result of Jack Layton's support for the decriminalization of marijuana. In November 2003, Layton was a guest on Emery's Pot TV program. During the 20-minute interview, Emery urged marijuana activists to support the party in the 2004 federal election. He endorsed Svend Robinson's candidacy in Vancouver Centre during the 2006 federal election campaign, and obtained permission from a judge to have his bail conditions varied so that he could campaign for the NDP candidate.
On July 29, 2005, Canadian police, acting on a request from the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, simultaneously raided the BC Marijuana Party Bookstore and Headquarters in Vancouver and arrested Emery for extradition to the United States outside a local storefront in the community of Lawrencetown, Nova Scotia where he was attending a HempFest. Emery and co-defendants Gregory Keith Williams, 50, of Vancouver, BC and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, 34, of Vancouver, BC are charged with "'Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana," "Conspiracy to Distribute Marijuana Seeds" and "Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering." Canadian police have not laid charges.
Emery was freed on a $50,000 bail and prepared to fight extradition in the courts.
2008 Proceedings and Plea Bargain
Emery and his two associates charged in the United States with drug and money laundering offenses all face a minimum 10-year sentence and the possibility of life imprisonment if convicted there. Under a proposed plea bargain, Emery would plead guilty and receive a minimum five year prison sentence, largely served in a Canadian prison. As part of the plea bargain, Emery requests that the charges against his associates be dropped.
Emery's extradition hearing has been postponed to April 19, 2008 so that negotiations for a potential plea bargain may continue.
An appeal court judge ruled on March 7, 2008 in a similar case that a one-month jail sentence and probation would constitute an adequate sentence for the crime of marijuana seed selling if Marc Emery were charged in Canada. This could be used to Emery's advantage in his fight against extradition.
On July 23, 2006 Marc Emery married Jodie Joanna Giesz-Ramsay (now Jodie Emery). Jodie Emery works as an editor on Cannabis Culture magazine and with her husband as a political activist seeking the end of marijuana prohibition, as well as, seeks to stop the extradition of her husband.