CBC Digital Archives

Marc Emery, Canada's 'Prince of Pot'

In 1923 it became illegal for Canadians to possess marijuana. But the laws have always been flouted, by recreational users who just want to get high, and by medicinal users seeking relief from pain and illness. From cannabis cafés to courtrooms, doctors and patients, rabble-rousers and senior statesmen have engaged in a passionate debate over marijuana possession. But the laws have endured.

media clip
The persecution of marijuana smokers in Canada is nothing short of cultural genocide, says Marc Emery. He's the publisher of a marijuana magazine and owner of Hemp B.C., a Vancouver pot emporium that was raided in January 1996 for selling marijuana seeds. In this interview three months later with Daniel Richler, host of CBC-TV's Big Life, Emery says that after a year and half without a peep from law enforcement, his arrest came as a shock.
• Born and raised in London, Ont., Marc Emery's first brush with the law came when he was owner of City Lights bookstore in his hometown. He was convicted in 1991 for selling copies of 2 Live Crew's 1989 rap album As Nasty As They Wanna Be, which had been deemed "obscene" under Canada's Criminal Code. At the time of his arrest, Emery noted that his bookstore didn't usually sell rap albums but that he felt it was important to take a stand against music censorship.

• Emery relocated to Vancouver in the early 1990s and opened Hemp B.C., a shop in the city's Gastown neighbourhood that sold marijuana seeds and manuals on how to grow pot. It was raided in 1996, soon after the Wall Street Journal published a feature on Emery and his business.

• Emery served 90 days in prison in 2004 for passing a joint at a Saskatoon pot rally. Less than a year later, he was arrested in Halifax on a United States warrant charging him with racketeering and selling marijuana seeds in that country by mail order. After a failed round of plea bargains and a "farewell tour", Emery surrendered himself to U.S. authorities in a Vancouver court in September 2009. He faced a potential five years in prison.

• After becoming leader of British Columbia's Marijuana Party in 2000, Emery began running for political office at every level. He has been a candidate for Vancouver mayor and has challenged more mainstream parties for seats in the provincial legislature and in the federal House of Commons. None of his bids has been successful. 

Medium: Television
Program: Big Life
Broadcast Date: April 19, 1996
Guest(s): Marc Emery
Host: Daniel Richler
Duration: 7:15

Last updated: August 14, 2014

Page consulted on September 10, 2014

All Clips from this Topic

Related Content

Pot and Politics: Canada and the Marijuana De...

In 1923 it became illegal for Canadians to possess marijuana. But the laws have always been fl...

Pot and Politics: Canada and the Marijuana De...

In 1923 it became illegal for Canadians to possess marijuana. But the laws have always been fl...

Pushing Past Borders: Canada and Internationa...

Rum runners. Heroin connections. Ecstasy labs. All part of a long line of criminal dealings in...

Marijuana: Ontario courts rule Canada's pot l...

Confusion reigns as courts refuse to apply the law.

Commons committee on drugs favours decriminal...

Another call for the softening of marijuana laws emphasizes drug's dangers, but says punishmen...

Legalize pot smoking, senators say

The Special Committee on Illegal Drugs says pot smoking should be legalized, and wants amnesty...