Music today is “If not for you”, with George Harrison who wrote this tune and Bob Dylan. Two masters of their craft perform live.
“I have a lot more confidence in him than I have in any other Canadian politician,” said Emery in Windsor on Tuesday, shortly after crossing the tunnel from Detroit under the escort of U.S. federal marshals.
“I believe he will follow through and make marijuana legal in Canada – because it’s the right thing to do, for one. It has the majority of Canadians supporting it, for another. And it’s gonna make history.”
The press conference marked Emery’s first moments in Canada since his incarceration on drug charges by the U.S. government in September 2009. He finished his sentence in July.
“I guess (prison) has a redemptive quality,” said the 56-year-old marijuana activist. “I feel good … I did good things with my time. I learned to become a bassist in a rock n’ roll band … I read an extensive amount, I kept my mind agile.”
Once more given a public forum, Emery wasted little time before renewing his declarations on his favourite issue, urging those present – and the pot-smoking public at large – to “get serious” about politics and vote.
“We are going to go all in and put our faith in the Liberal party of Canada in the next election, because I do believe they are sincere that they will legalize marijuana.”
Before a cheering crowd and with his wife Jodie by his side, Emery promised to “get rid of this pernicious prohibition.”
“I will say this – I deplore and loathe Stephen Harper. I think he’s an evil man,” Emery said, going on to describe Harper as a “tyrant,” a “Machiavellian manipulator,” and a “cold, icy character” with no friends.
“Marijuana prohibition is doomed to fail,” Jodie said. “It’s only a matter of time before every state – and all of Canada – legalizes marijuana.”
“You don’t have to think Marc Emery is a hero — but a lot of people do,” she added. “Pot prohibition benefits only gangsters and police budgets.”
Several Windsor police officers observed from nearby, but did not intervene except to ask people to stay on the sidewalks and off the roads.
James Lloyd, co-founder of the Hamilton Cannabis Club, offered Emery a custom-made pair of sneakers printed with an image of Emery smoking a joint.
“He’s a knight,” Lloyd said of Emery. “He’s leading the way.”
The gathering also attracted marijuana enthusiasts from across the border. Richard Clement, a 57-year-old City of Detroit municipal employee, described Emery’s story as “an international thing.”
Before Emery’s arrival, Clement embraced Jodie and apologized on behalf of the United States.
“I really meant it. Because we sick and tired of their drug war,” explained Clement, who guesses he’s been smoking marijuana since 1975.
“It is an outrage. I mean, we still fighting the fight,” he continued. “It’s on the march … It’s a civil rights struggle.”
Toronto’s Matt Mernagh– author of the Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook – acted as an impromptu emcee. “It’s a beautiful day to smoke pot in the city of Windsor,” Mernagh urged the crowd. Mernagh recalled when Canada transferred Emery to the custody of U.S. authorities. “We’ve been protesting ever since,” he said.
“(Marc’s return) is the end of a journey, not just for Marc, but a whole bunch of advocates and activists,” Mernagh continued. “These are important times in Canadian prohibition history.”
Emery said he will spend Tuesday night in Windsor with Jodie, then travel to Toronto on Wednesday for another celebration and press conference.
He intends to be back at his home in Vancouver by the end of the week, where he’ll make plans for an international speaking tour.
“Wherever we make those appearances, we’re going to be giving the same message – and it’s a world-wide message,” Emery said. “Nothing good comes with marijuana prohibition.”
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Above: Marc Emery cries while embracing a friend before turning himself in at the courthouse in Vancouver in September 2009. Emery was sentenced to five years in prison in 2010 for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana after his Vancouver-based mail order business was busted. He has been transferred from a U.S. federal prison to a private deportation facility in Louisiana. (Andy Clark/Reuters)
Above: Marijuana advocate Marc Emery waves to his supporters as he walks with his wife Jodie following his release from an American prison for selling marijuana seeds in the U.S., in Windsor, Ontario August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (CANADA – Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY CRIME LAW) – RTR4272N (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)