On May 24, 2010, Canadian pot activist Marc Emery pleaded guilty to drug distribution in Seattle federal court, and is expected to receive a five year sentence as part of his plea bargain. The reason behind his prosecution stems from the longtime marijuana-seed distribution service he ran, based out of Vancouver, which openly provided mail-order seeds to customers throughout North America. Where he erred, however, was in deciding to ship seeds to the United States of America, rather than keeping his service domestic. Typically, the RCMP won't bother with purely domestic seed (or even mail order pot) distribution, so long as it's Canada-only and kept discreet; but if you get greedy and decide to service American customers, and the DEA puts even a minute amount of pressure on the RCMP, your ass will be extradited faster than you can say Tetrahydrocannabinol.

Prior to forced bunking with a Neanderthal with a penchant for bum sex, Marc Emery was known as one of the top marijuana activists in Canada, having been a founding member of both the Canadian Marijuana Party and its British Columbian counterpart, publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine, and candidate for mayor of Vancouver on three occasions. As well, for years he organized national 420 rallies in large cities (most notably Ottawa), rallying together pro-pot activists for demonstrations and mass toking. Because of this, he gets to don the cloak of martyrdom, being unfairly prosecuted for his moral beliefs blah blah blah. If anything, his recent legal issues with the Americans have catapulted him into the undisputed Canadian spokesman for legalization; and that being the case, I might as well lock up my weed now, because with this clown in the top position of advocacy, there's no way on earth he's going to be taken seriously.

I met Marc Emery once, at one of his 420 rallies in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. He brought with him a massive joint filled with one pound of California bud. He lit it, took the first gigantic hit off of it, and proceeded to stumble around in a stoned haze for the next hour. Any credibility he might have had proverbially went up in smoke right then. In just about every interview he gives, his eyes are heavily hooded like he just inhaled a blunt. And this is the best advocate my country has to offer - which already has the highest cannabis consumption rate in the Western world (almost twice that of the Netherlands) along with a very cannabis-lenient legal system, and with over 55% of citizens supporting not just decriminalization, but full legalization. You'd think being the top marijuana activist in a place like this would be a cakewalk, yet this fuckwit still manages to get tossed in the clink somehow.

So What Went Wrong?

I recently watched an interview on CBC with Keith Straub, the top pro-marijuana lobbyist in Washington DC (and founding member of NORML). He gave a very lucid, well-thought out opinion outlining the major fallacies of pot prohibition. He pointed out the tiny amounts of harm it causes when compared with such standouts as alcohol and tobacco, and gave a brief summary of its medically-accepted benefits when used therapeutically. It was a very moving argument, and I could imagine someone who's sitting on the fence being influenced in the direction of decriminalization. Or at least might have been, had Keith Straub not had long hair down to his shoulders, a psychedelically-coloured poster hanging on his office wall and a bright neon-green pot leaf sitting on his desk.

Herein lies the issue; pot culture is fundamentally kitsch and tacky, with the dreadlocks, hippies, hemp clothing, pot leaf decals and tie-die aesthetic. Many, and in fact most pot smokers aren't like this; people smoke pot for a lot of reasons, for relaxation, enjoyment, socially, or medically, and do not fall neatly into one group at all. But the legalization advocacy movement is hijacked by people who are already deep within Weed "Culture". As soon as you display your tie-died T-shirt of Bob Marley smoking a truly epic cone, you've instantly lost credibility with anyone in Middle America who might have supported your views on facts alone. It sucks, but that's the way it is, and the inability of the pot "hierarchy", so to speak, to understand this and discard their centrist-alarming earnestness is seriously impeding any progress on the issue. It would have been so easy for Straub to get even a haircut. But no.

What the legalization movement needs is a respectable non-smoker to advocate the cause. Until this happens, all is for naught.

What about Medicinal Pot? Isn't That a Success?

"People ask about medical marijuana. That's just a, uh...an excuse by the legalizers to get into the issue." - Bob Weiner, Drug Issues Strategist for the White House, on Penn And Teller: Bullshit!.

Much as it chagrins me to concede the point, Weiner is probably right. Health benefits notwithstanding, Medical Marijuana has, by and large, been latched onto by the legalization activists as a way of getting their foot in the door, in lieu of their failed attempts at ending pot prohibition. The idea here is utilizing the "slippery slope" analogy - that fostering acceptance for pot use, even in a very limited manner, will eventually pave the way for complete acceptance of decriminalization. And maybe they're right. Currently, fourteen states, Canada, and most of Western Europe allow medical marijuana, and are undoubtedly providing medicine for people who need it. But it's also providing a hell of a lot of weed for people who want to get stoned, just to get stoned.

However - by dressing up a wildly unfair, racist-inspired policy such as pot prohibition in the guise of a medical care issue, all you're really doing is getting diverted on a tangent which takes away from the real issue. That's - I should have the right to put something in my body, which is an order of magnitude less harmful than alcohol, whenever I choose. You don't need to sneak up on the issue from behind. Sure, some people do need to smoke pot, whether for chemotherapy-related nausea, glaucoma, or pain relief, and more power to them. But medical marijuana is simply not an issue in a sane world which tolerates marijuana even for people who smoke it not because they need to, but because they want to get really, mega baked - the same way I can get hammered at Boston Pizza if my heart so desires. What we need, as mentioned before, is a normal, lucid, respectable nonsmoker to relate these following facts to Middle America:

  • It is impossible to die from a Pot overdose: The main challenge for scientists trying to determine pot's lethality is that, even when given truly ridiculous injections of THC, lab mice often simply refuse to die. The best estimate for human lethality is that one would have to smoke forty thousand times the amount of pot that one needs to get high, in roughly twenty minutes. That's thirty-three half-gram joints per second. Despite what Fox News would have you think, it is literally impossible for "killer weed" to exist.
  • Your body already creates THC on its own: Pot works because it floods the cannabinoid receptors in our brain with THC. Unlike some synthetic drugs, which roughly approximate the shape of pre-existing molecules, cannabinoids are a natural substance found in the brains of mammals, reptiles, fish and avians, with receptors specifically in the limbic system and hippocampus. Cannabinoids are thought to influence memory retention and muscle relaxation, and are only found in nature in large enough quantities for intoxication in the cannabis plant.
  • The primary dangers of marijuana are due to its criminalization: If the best argument a politician can make against pot is that you could be arrested and go to jail for using it, that's a remarkably deft example of doublethink.
  • Marijuana and cancer links are currently inconclusive: Although it's kind of obvious that inhaling combustibles is a "Not Good" thing, the jury's still out on whether marijuana can cause cancer a la tobacco. While there is three times as much tar in a joint as in a cigarette, the average pot smoker smokes at most five a day, which is still less daily tar intake than the pack-a-day smoker at your local bingo hall. Also, marijuana lacks a major cancer catalyst, like nicotine, that we know of, and typically undergoes much less chemical treatment when in the processing stage than tobacco does. And in any case, if the idea of cancer concerns you, then don't *smoke* weed. Vaporizers and baked goods will get you just as high without any cancer risk at all. The risk is not inherent to the substance, just the method of ingestion.

We can get this message across without the aid of four-foot bongs and hemp friendship bracelets. And if you also happen to be selling pot or seeds online, make it crystal clear that, regardless of demand, orders from the United States will not be considered, period. Drug enforcement agents are just waiting for pot activists to fuck up, so they can pounce with a vengeance. Don't give them the satisfaction. Marc Emery is not a martyr, he's a businessman who got greedy and paid the price. With our current economic troubles and increasing acceptance of alternative lifestyles, the ground for marijuana legalization is fertile. All we need is one (1) respectable activist to step up to the plate.

locke baron says re Wanted: One (1) Respectable Pot Activist: Absolutely, positively agreed. What we have now is the moral equivalent of alcoholics (or at least heavy drinkers) advocating for booze. It comes off as disingenuous and fraught with ulterior motive even if it isn't.

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