British Columbia

Marijuana activist Jodie Emery speaks out about 'degrading' arrest

Prominent marijuana activists and dispensary owners Jodie Emery and her husband, Marc, were arrested last week in Toronto en route to a marijuana conference.

Emery, along with husband Marc, were arrested for drug trafficking on Mar. 9 in Toronto en route to Spain

Jodie Emery and Marc Emery, known for their cannabis activism and business ventures, were released on bail from Toronto Old City Hall Courthouse on March 10, 2017. The pair face charges of trafficking and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

Although self-styled Prince of Pot Marc Emery and his wife, Jodie, have each been released on $30,000 bail after being charged in Toronto with drug trafficking, conspiracy and possession, Jodie Emery says she "extremely frightened" for her future.

"I feel like it's very much targeted political persecution," she told CBC's The Early Edition.

"Now that's extremely frightening considering we've never hurt anyone, we've never used force, we've never used weapons. We're peaceful, political activists ... it sounds like we face life in prison for our activism and for these allegations."

She said being arrested was a "degrading" and "harrowing" experience, and claimed she had been stripped naked, poked with a needle, and denied the ability to speak to a lawyer for hours.

"Throughout the experience I reminded myself that this exactly what I've dedicated my entire life to ending: the unjust imprisonment and prosecution of peaceful people for cannabis."

Emery and her husband are well-known for their years of vocal marijuana activism; they operate a dispensary, help manage Cannabis Culture magazine, and have run for political office.

Marc Emery was released from a U.S. prison in 2014 after serving five years for selling marijuana seeds from Canada to U.S. customers.

Expanding franchise empire

In recent months, the Emerys have expanded their Cannabis Culture dispensary model as a franchise. Along with their original shop in Vancouver, which was also raided by police last week, they have stores operating in Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa.

Emery said the couple's arrest could be attributed to the fact Cannabis Culture had decided to expand and the couple were prominent in media coverage.

"Well it's no secret that we've had a lot of coverage recently in the last year ... and the raids that have happened repeatedly. Those stores are known as this is a recent expansion plan," she explained.

"The fact of the matter is we are activists and obviously, peaceful civil disobedience has played a big role in our activism.

"We pay taxes. We are not shady people. We are not criminals. We are only criminals by the definition of the law. If they want to stop criminals from being involved in marijuana, stop criminalizing it."

The Emerys are due back in court on April 21.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Marijuana activist Jodie Emery on her arrest