This article is a farewell to my great friend, Marc Emery, who is serving a 5 year prison sentence for activism (marijuana seeds). The news clip is my plea for his release:
By Barry Cooper
I'm crying. The flashbacks were intense last night. Candi had to continually wake me up out of the nightmares. I went to bed crying. Candi was crying too and comforting me – and we finally got a few hours rest when the sun broke. As a child, I played with a lot of emotion. It was normal to see me crying. I was a very sensitive kid. I'm 40 years old now and have, I hope, maintained the sensitivity without the tears – until last night. As I write this, I cannot ignore the deep well of sadness in my heart. I'm crying now and it won't stop. I'm so sad.
Last night I visited CannabisCulture.com, a website that I write for, and I read Jodie Emery's report that her husband and my dear friend, Marc Emery, will be reporting to prison on Monday. This is difficult for me – Writing this is causing me to hurt inside and I'm looking through water. Candi brought me a towel so I can see to continue writing.
Soon after releasing my first video, Traffic Stops, I was doing back-to-back radio and television interviews on all the national networks when I received a call from Canadian National TV requesting an interview. I was so tired that night. I'll never forget it.
None of my interviews are practiced beforehand and I never know what questions I will be asked. I made an exception this time by only agreeing to do the interview if they asked me about Marc Emery. The producer didn't know if they would be able to 'pre-plan' a question but said she would check with her boss. Moments later the producer called back and promised the question would be asked if I agreed to the appearance. I obliged.
I knew about Marc's legal battle with the United States Drug Enforcement Administration through the web. He was charged with selling marijuana seeds to U.S. citizens (which is a misdemeanor offense in Texas).
Marc Emery is a Canadian citizen who never even entered the states as a seed seller. He operated his seed business in Canada at all times, with no American branches or employees. Marc Emery declared his income from marijuana seed sales on his income tax, and paid over $580,000 to the federal and provincial Canadian governments from 1999 to 2005.
Marc is the leader of the British Columbia Marijuana Party, a registered political party that has regularly participated in elections. He has never been arrested or convicted of manufacturing or distributing marijuana in Canada, as he has only practiced the age-old farmer-to-farmer service of selling seeds.
Marc gave away all of the profits from his seed business to drug law reform lobbyists, political parties, global protests and rallies, court litigation, medical marijuana initiatives, drug rehabilitation clinics, and other legitimate legal activities and organizations. Marc Emery helped found the United States Marijuana Party, state-level political parties, and international political parties in countries such as Israel and New Zealand.
He has been known as a bookseller and activist in Canada for 30 years, fighting against censorship and on behalf of other social issues long before he became a anti-prohibition activist. Mr. Emery has been a media figure for 20 years and he has been in the forefront in the fight for drug law reform.
Emery has operated his business in a transparent and honest way since its inception in 1994 -- even sending his marijuana seed catalog inside a Cannabis Culture magazine to each member of Parliament in Canada for years.
The DEA admitted in a press release from their commander, Karen Tandy, that his July 29, 2005 arrest was based on Emery's overt drug legalization efforts -- a copy of the document can be viewed at http://www.cannabisculture.com/articles/4685.html. It reads, in part:
"Today's DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group -- is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today. Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General's most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets -- one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on."
When I read this ridiculous, overtly political statement, I immediately called Jodie Emery and explained I was going to go on television soon to plea for her husband's life. I wasn't sure how she would react because at that time, Jodie didn't know us, and Candi and I were hated by the police, many citizens, and some marijuana reformers. I remember how genuinely sweet Jodie was on the phone. Her voice was absolutely beautiful, and she was so kind and polite. This was refreshing to Candi and I because in those early times we were usually met with suspicion and hate that derived from people thinking I was still a kop and that my website was actually an elaborate sting operation. Jodie said it would be okay and thanked me.
I've finally stopped crying for the moment. When a person doesn't cry much, it sort of hurts.
What a relief. I've learned that keeping these kinds of emotions bottled up is dangerous. If a person doesn't cry, it can cause some serious damage.
A few days after I talked with Jodie that night, Marc and I had a phone conversation and he invited me to his booth at the Seattle Hemp Festival to sell my new video. Since Marc had outstanding warrants for his arrest in the US, he was not going to be able to attend. I took him up on his offer, and Candi and I headed for Washington state.
I'll never forget that festival. Candi and I were short-handed running the booth because Marc's crew got intercepted at the Canadian/U.S. Border and were not allowed to cross. We worked side-by-side with Ed Rosenthal. Ed is definitely a character and is also one of the funnest people I've met. I met Jack Herer. He didn't talk to us much, maybe because as I said, the reform community was very suspicious of us. Since then Herer and I have had many peace pow-wows together.
At the same event, I got into an argument with NORML's founder, Keith Stroup, that turned into a cursing match. Keith Stroup had been assassinating my character in the media and was telling reporters I was a "used car salesman" that couldn't be trusted. He said all marijuana reformers should distance themselves from me because I was a 'profiteer' and still a kop. Ed Rosenthal broke up the heated argument because if Keith had continued, Ed could sense I was going to clean Keith's clock. I really respect Ed for his diplomatic skills, and I am thankful to him for breaking us up.
I don't hold any hard feelings toward Keith. At that time I had not learned to appreciate marijuana's message of peace and non-violence. I was raised in the trailer parks of the South, and as you may know, fighting is a part of our culture. I feel bad that I came so close to punching Keith. In some sort of strange way I love the guy now. I don't fight anymore. I grow flowers. Candi is happy about all that and proud of me. And that's really what matters to me.
After the two days of tickling stress the festival dusted us with, Candi and I set our compass to North and headed to Canada to visit Marc and Jodie Emery.
I remember being guarded, cautious, and leery of Marc when I first arrived. It had nothing to do with Marc and everything to do with our recent craziness regarding NeverGetBusted. It didn't take long for Jodie's kindness and Marc's charm to break through my armor. We were soon laughing and joking and having a blast.
Marc and Jodie were sympathetic to the mistreatment we had received from some reformers and helped us by sticking their necks out and introducing us to the pro-cannabis population. They ran a feature about NeverGetBusted and put Candi and me on the front cover.
Our company would not be where it is today without Marc's endorsement of our character. After the magazine hit the stands, reformers began warming up to us because of their deep trust and fondness for Marc Emery. Since that publication, we have been accepted into the guild of wonderful pot activists and now feel their love daily. Candi and I have seldom been treated so nice in our lives. From that trip forward, we have grown to be close friends with Marc and Jodie.
Candi and I returned the following year to Canada with our kids in tow and spent several more days hanging out at Marc and Jodie's cannabis castle – dubbed, "Cannabis Culture Headquarters." They were so nice to our kids. I remember Marc taking my children to the local organic market and buying the best fruit and snacks available. He spent a lot of time listening to my kids and communicating with them in earnest interest.
These two Canadians are certainly one of the classiest couples we have met. Their high-rise Vancouver tree-house is the swankest apartment we have ever visited and certainly the most peaceful. I've been all over the world, and their domain is our favorite place to visit.
Our last night in Vancouver, I was awakened at 3 a.m. by an urgent knocking and yelling from the hotel desk clerk – advising Candi and me that Marc had been arrested and needed my help.
I quickly dressed and scrambled downstairs expecting a prank. To my surprise, I saw two officers and Marc in handcuffs. The police wanted to know if Marc had my permission to be driving the car. I could see the kops were postured for problems so to lighten things up, I replied, "No, he's not allowed to be driving my car. How did he get it?" I saw the surprised look on Marc's face the instant before I explained I was just kidding and Marc had permission to use anything I owned.
I had left our rental car parked in a tow away zone and Marc was moving the auto for us when he was pulled over by the kops. They knew Marc's bond terms prohibited him from possessing a cell phone and when they spotted Candi's phone in the car, they placed him under arrest. After some intense questioning and verifying the car and cell phone belonged to us, they released Marc. That was it, apparently.
Here's what really happened: The kops had been doing surveillance on Marc and me -- and it seemed suspicious to them that Marc was driving my rental car during the early morning hours prior to my trip back to the US. I know cops, and I could tell they thought they had interrupted some huge drug smuggling plot designed by Marc and me. We laughed and laughed about that and still do.
Our love and trust for Marc and Jodie is unsurpassed and they were two of only ten people who knew about our Odessa Kopbusters sting before it happened.
We were on the phone last night with Marc and Jody crying. Jodie has strength in her voice but a detectable amount of horror and loneliness can be heard. While I'm crying, Marc is being the positive leader he was created to be. Not one negative word. He didn't talk about himself but continued bragging about my efforts and how proud he was of us. He talked with my daughter to get an update on her life. Marc is non-violent and spreads more love than any one man I've seen. He is stronger than I.
When you help elect me to be Texas Attorney General in 2010 (and as Marc's and Jodie's friend), I vow to do everything I can do to get Marc Emery out of the American prison system. We are not free until he and the millions of other non-violent prisoners suffering from this vicious political war are free.
Jail conditions are horrible. As a kid, I was raised in a very conservative and ignorant household and was taught prisons were like country clubs and prisoners “had it made.” This is an absurd, straight-up lie. I've only been to jail five times (for bar fights), and each time was harrowing. The floors have been pissed on and defecated on for so long, they smell like the toilets. Citizens are forced to use the bathroom in front of each other. The food is worse than the cafeteria food Americans feed their children in public schools.
Unfortunately, some of the people actually belong in a cage, and now you find yourself in the same enclosure with them. The guards treat everybody like trash and most of the guards look like fat child molesters. The temperature cannot be regulated, and it's always either stuffy hot or miserably cold. The loneliness is indescribable – not being able to freely touch your spouse or children is haunting.
It's never quiet in jail. Screams and belligerent shouts from aggravated humans never stop. A person must be on constant guard against predators and violent offenders. A healthy person's sex life gravitates toward masturbation or illicit sex. Letters and visits get rarer the longer one is incarcerated. The entire environment is hostile and totally life-changing. Millions of non-violent Americans leave prison with post-traumatic stress disorder. Prison is the worse place a human can be. Marc is going there for five years starting Monday. He is our hero. That's why I am crying.