9 Minutes With Local Politician & “Prince Of Pot” Marc Emery

March 26, 2010.

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Local politician and marijuana activist Marc Emery is best known as Canada’s “Prince of Pot”. An excerpt from his wiki: “He is the publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine, a founding member of the Freedom Party of Ontario, the Marijuana Party of Canada and the BC Marijuana Party, founder of the Iboga Therapy House and founder of Pot-TV. He ran for mayor of the city of Vancouver in 1996, 2002 and 2008.” Read the whole thing, as its a gooder (he was once arrested for selling 2 Live Crew CDs!).

He’s been making headlines around the world recently as he is currently under threat of extradition to the United States for selling marijuana seeds online. The punishment in Canada is a mere $200 fine (silly), while in the United States he could face 10 years in prison (silliest).

Emery and two employees were arrested five years ago by Canadian police working as stooges for George W. Bush’s Department of Justice. The move, in our opinion, was utter bullshit, setting a dangerous precedent that remains nothing short of a big fat dent in Canada’s judicial sovereignty. Our Justice Minister, Rob Nicholson, has been sitting on Emery’s extradition papers since the second week of January. The Conservative has yet to sign them, and we hope he never does. We suspect his pen’s restraint is pure politics, as his dooming signature likely (and rightly) wouldn’t go over well with Canucks both left and right.

In the meantime, over 12,000 Canadians have signed a petition asking that Emery not be sent to the States for something that is only a minor offense in Canada. Earlier this month, three MPs (1 Liberal, 1 NDP, 1 Conservative) came out strongly on his side. We hope more will follow, and sincerely wish him the best of luck. To help us understand who he is a little better, he answered all 60 of the questions that we posed to him this week.

Scout Q&A

Three things about your neighbourhood that make you at Dunsmuir & Granville: 1) At 31-stories looking out on an unparalleled vista of the north shore, being in these tall skyscrapers makes me feel like Howard Roark. 2) Everything I need is within 4 blocks in any direction and 3) I’m six minutes away from our store and headquarters if my alarm there should go off.

The moment you realised you were an ‘activist': When I first ran for electoral office in 1980, exactly 30 years ago, when I ran for federal Parliament in the Feb. 1980 election. Trudeau won, I lost. My first of Quixotic 12 elections.

Default drink: Licorice Spice Tea from Stash. I have several cups of this every day.

Drink you’ll never have again: Banana Gin. Unrequited love in 1973 at the Washington, DC Science-Fiction Convention (WorldCon). She was 24, I was 15. We always hung out because I was her “safe” friend, being 15. I was crazy bout her. She was out with Mike Kaluta, Bernie Wrightson, Vaughn Bode, I was alone with this bottle of banana gin and some 7-UP. Oh dear. Cried me a river.

Canadian political figure you most relate to: Louis Riel.

Favourite Vancouver bridge: Burrard Bridge.

Best Vancouver park: Stanley Park.

One thing you’d like to change about Vancouver: Make it a 24-hour a day culture like downtown Toronto is.

Favourite place to see live music: Commodore Ballroom.

Cheap place for dinner: La Casita.

Book you’re reading: Out of Our Heads: Drug Use in Rock and Roll Before It All Went Bad by George Case.

Last place traveled: My Farewell Tour last summer covered 9 provinces and 30 cities. Going to Tofino next week, on Cox Bay.

Biggest fear: Missing Jodie if I am sent to jail. I don’t really have fearful thoughts though.

Three things about Vancouver that make you feel like a kid: 1) an NHL hockey team to love, the Canucks (when I was a kid it was the Leafs), 2) staying up till dawn and looking out on the big city with wonder, 3) feeling like one day I’m going to make a name for myself in this big ole’ world.

If you could rename yourself: I like my porn name, ‘Romeo Toughstick’. That’s bang-on, that name.

Best sneaker in the world: The same Nike’s I’ve had for 8 years, from the set of Dark Angel, worn twice on the set and I got ‘em as a freebie from the Wardrobe Dept. when they closed up shop in January 2002. I only use them once every 6 months so they are still in good shape and comfy.

Best movie ever: Fiddler on the Roof by Norman Jewison.

Under what circumstances would you join the army: Invasion of Canada by American, Chinese, Russian military.

Your paternal grandfather’s personal story: My Dad’s father was a drunk who used to beat my Dad’s Mom. One day in 1937, when my Dad was 13, he and his younger brother, 12, and his older 14-year old brother (of 8 children), confronted their father at home while he beating their mother, drunk again. My Dad’s words were “I couldn’t stand to see him do that to my Mom one more time, so with my two brothers we beat the tar out of him, and threw him out the front door and told him to never return. We didn’t need him because we all worked by that time.” My Dad’s formative years were in the pre-WW2 working class ghetto of Birmingham, England. He joined the British Navy in 1940 and went to war till 1945.

Best bar stool in the city: Jodie & I cozy up on the barstools at the bar by the pillar at Nuba Restaurant (Cambie & Hastings). At first it was because the place was always packed, but now its our nook and we imagine (easily) of being in Rick’s Cafe Americain in Casablanca.

Dumbest purchase ever: A new Excursion in 2000.

What are you most proud of: Mentoring a lot of young activists, idealists, employees, kids, and seeing them develop and reach their potential.

The thing that makes you the angriest: People being jailed for drugs and cops getting away with murder.

The view from your favourite window: A spectacular panorama with SFU atop Burnaby mountain on my far right, Canada Place, Harbour Centre the whole north shore in front of me, and Burrard Inlet, Lion’s Gate Bridge and Coal Harbour on my left. I love to have all the lights out in my apartment and look out on the incredible night-time view through these floor to ceiling windows. Like I’m doing right now at 4:45 am Friday morning.

Favourite ice cream flavour: Pineapple.

Most beautiful body of water: The Andaman Sea off the west coast of the Thai peninsula around Ao Nang, Krabi (2nd Place: Caribbean Sea around Negril, Jamaica).

Food your mom makes better than anyone: Mom was a terrible cook, she boiled everything. The only thing that tastes OK that way is mashed potatoes.

Talent you wish you possessed: Would love to have a singing voice or play a musical instrument.

The trend you wish you never followed, but did: Getting a ‘Fro perm in my hair from 1982 to 1985. What was I thinking??!!!

Musical instrument you long to master: Guitar, bass, drums, piano. But there is no talent there so I can only dream.

Sport you gave up: Fractured and damaged my left elbow playing hockey at age 12. Gave up the dream of an NHL career and started a vintage comic book business while my arm was surgically pinned back together and kept in a cast for 14 months.

Best place to write: Locked in your jail cell without a cellmate.

The game you’re best at: Jeopardy. Any trivia game.

Mac or PC? 10 years MAC. “Once you’ve had MAC, you never go back.” I hear women say that all the time. They are SO right.

Favourite book as a child: I read the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (over 1,000 pages) by Willian Shirer when I was 13. When I was really young, like from age 8 to 12, my favorite book was this hardcover book of World War 2 cartoons by Bing Coughlin with a character called ‘Herbie’. I read it over tin those days because the cartoon drawings were funny and my Dad roared laughter finding favour with the ‘laugh because otherwise you’ll cry’ view of life in the trenches and mud from a regular soldier’s point of view.

The number of fist fights you’ve been in: When I was a kid from 6 to 11, I went to a tough school, there was a fight every couple of weeks. After age 12, I avoided any of that.

The scariest situation you’ve ever been in: Watching my business nearly burn down twice, in 1982, and in 2004. In both cases, my neighbour’s building burned to the ground. My business was water & smoke damaged, but survived.

Three things of no monetary value that you will keep until you die: My memories are the most valuable thing I own. After 52 years,the material recollections I own are in one suitcase of press clippings, my original comic book catalogs I put out from 1971 to 1975, a copy of the newspapers and magazines I’ve published, photographs of my life living in Asia from 1992 to 1994 and artifacts and ephemera of my early career.

Local person you admire most: David Eby.

The thing you’re most ashamed of: That I still eat meat, not much, but I was a vegetarian for 16 years, and now I’m ashamed of lapsing since 2005.

Best concert experience ever: Best concert I ever saw was Peter Gabriel on his Growing Up tour with the Blind Boys of Alabama in 2003 at GM Place. Gabriel sung songs while riding a bicycle upside down from a suspended bicycle track. His suit had 20 search lights on it when he got off the bike and did Sledgehammer, they beamed all over the stadium and moved as he did.

When you can’t sleep: Read the four newspaper that arrive from 3am to 4.30am.

Best garage sale score: Original hard cover first edition of Atlas Shrugged with dust-wrapper in perfect condition.

Describe your tattoos: Don’t believe in those.

The dish you’re proud of: My organic fresh fruit salad. Only thing to make it perfect would be to add one perfect ripe mangosteen, but they are uncommon to find.

The thing that makes you the most nervous: The dereliction of language skills in the young. Second thing: the end of the work ethic in North America.

Town you were born in: St. Joseph’s hospital in London, Ontario, on a very cold, blizzardy Feb. 13, 1958 Ontario morning.

Old television shows you can tolerate re-runs of: Twilight Zone, All in the Family, The Jeffersons, MASH (first three seasons with Maclean Stevenson/Wayne Rogers only), Mary Tyler Moore Show, the TAMI show, Seinfeld, Frasier, Two & A Half Men.

First memory: Sitting on the porcelain potty in the family bathroom at age one and tho not understanding English that well I understood my Mom’s glower from my lack of excretion, and I felt the pressure to produce but nothing was happening. And from that potty my Mom seemed to tower above me.

Album that first made you love music: Beatles 1964 ‘Twist & Shout’ on Capitol.

What are you listening to as you answer these questions: The cry of seagulls and the faded swishes of vehicles in the rain at 5.30 am, at 30 floors in the sky, I can still hear the Granville skytrain station immediately below me start its morning yawning and heaving sounds of the rushing commuter train.

Paper or pipe: I roll joints, so paper.

The career path you considered but never followed: My mother wanted me to go to Harvard and be something she’d be proud of. I’ve wanted to be in business of my own since I was 7, and I have.

Thing you miss most about home when you’re on the road: Comfortable beds and especially a comfortable flat pillow. All hotel pillows are pumped up ridiculously.

Three websites you visit every day: alternet.org, anti-war.com, facebok.com/marcemery.

The thing you’re addicted to: Life.

Biggest hope: Legalization of all peaceful & honest lifestyles in our lifetime.

Luckiest moment of your life: the day (December 4, 2001) I received a message from a Jodie Giesz-Ramsay for the first time.

Is it all worth it?
I’ve had a wonderful life full of love, achievement, pleasure and wonderment. I live in the greatest city. I have the best job in the whole world, and I enjoy the love and good will of millions of people. I have the love of a terrific woman. I’m blessed, come what may.

OTHER INTERESTING PEOPLE

  • Darcy McGee

    Louis Riel? It is too laugh….

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