03/31/17 Jodie Emery

Jodie Emery, Canadian activist busted with her husband Marc, former Chicago Prosecutor James Gierach on his new TV series "Chicago Drug War" + song "Eternal War" by DTN host Dean Becker

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, March 31, 2017
Jodie Emery
Cannabis Culture



MARCH 31, 2017


ROGER WATERS [MUSIC]: I've got some bad news for you sunshine,
Pink isn't well, he stayed back at the hotel
And they sent us along as a surrogate band.
We're gonna find out where you folks really stand.

Are there any queers in the theater tonight?
Get them up against the wall!
There's one in the spotlight, he don't look right to me,
Get him up against the wall!
That one looks Jewish!
And that one's a coon!
Who let all of this riff-raff into the room?
There's one smoking a joint,
Another one's got spots!
If I had my way,
I'd have all of you shot!

DEAN BECKER: Does it ever seem to you like there's a bunch of Nazi wannabes taking control of governments around the planet? We're going to talk about some of their tactics during this show. This is Cultural Baggage, I'm your host, Dean Becker. Stay tuned.

You know, it was just over three weeks ago, I heard the horrible news that two friends of mine up in Canada had been busted, Marc and Jodie Emery. Many of their associates in several cannabis dispensaries around Canada were raided, and we have Jodie Emery with us now to fill us in on what happened that day, and what's happened since. Hello, Jodie.

JODIE EMERY: Hi, Dean, thanks for having me.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, Jodie, it was horrible news, that was a horrible day, was it not? Please tell us what happened, just over three weeks ago.

JODIE EMERY: Well, Marc and I were ready to go to Spannabis, in Barcelona, and I started the day with a big panel debate about legalization at a TV studio in front of a live audience, and that was pre-taped to be shared later. And then I went to see a brand new store that was going to open as a Cannabis Culture location. It was beautiful, everything was set up and ready to go, and then I went to our apartment, a rental downtown Toronto here, and packed our bags, and got in an uber to head to the airport.

And now it's funny, because uber was illegal, and the government's worked to allow it to become, you know, regulated and acceptable, they didn't go arresting everybody. But for us, we were in the uber, got to the airport, pulled up to the international departures, and as soon as we stepped out of the vehicle, plainclothes officers arrested us. They refused to let us call our lawyer, even though they said time and again that we had the right to call a lawyer, and Marc insisted on calling, but they said no, well, we don't have a phone, and Marc said we're in an airport, there are phones here.

And they said, we think it's too noisy here, it's too public, you know, we should, we'll wait until we get to the station. But, you know, six hours later, we were waiting still to hear from our lawyers, and be able to talk to our lawyers, but the reason for the delay, we believe, is so they could raid two places in the meantime.

We got arrested, and we were refused the right to call a lawyer, and I have never been taken to a jail before, and taken through the process of being strip searched and having my things taken from me, and, you know, it was, it was very -- it wasn't scary for me at the time, I wasn't ever scared or afraid, I was mostly just observing and realizing that I was enduring what I've always protested against. So now I can actually say I've walked the walk, you know, I've been through it, and it's horrible. I spent two nights in jail, the second night was at a real remand center, a jail for women, maximum security, and that was also not a good experience, but very eye-opening.

So I learned a lot through it all, and I feel I can now speak from experience, after 13 years of speaking about other people's experiences being arrested and jailed. But, yes, I mean, we had some very harsh bail conditions in order to get out. We've had to disassociate from our stores, from Cannabis Culture entirely. We can't run the business or help any dispensaries run or operate. We can't see our best friends, who are our co-accused. We can't travel outside of Canada. We can't even travel inside of Canada right now, we're both required to stay in the province of Ontario. I'm allowed to go to British Columbia, since I live there normally, but I have to let the police know when I do that.

And, we are not even allowed to possess marijuana unless it's government approved, government marijuana, sold by government licensed producers who are embroiled in controversy because of the way they've been lobbying the government to raid dispensaries for well over a year, and for the way that they're selling cannabis that is sub-par, poor quality, and actually poisonous, where they have to have recalls and veterans are suing them for selling toxic pesticide covered cannabis.

So, these corporate lobbyists who are taking over this industry and jailing the pioneers are actually hurting people with their cannabis, whereas the rest of us, the community, the activists, the true believers, we love this plant, and we provide a product with love when we're all doing this. So, it's amazing to see on the big Canadian stage what we've watched play out in states throughout the US.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and Jodie, I want to ask this, I mean, the truth of it is, is that because of these busts of you and Marc and all that, it's ongoing, they're still busting dispensaries long after they did this to you guys, and it has in effect raised the stock prices of those corporate government dispensaries or providers, as well. It's a bonus to them, is it not?

JODIE EMERY: Absolutely. And what's even more twisted is that a lot of these companies are started by politicians, Liberal Party financial officers, former prohibitionists, drug cops, RCMP drug squad unit types. We've seen premiers and prime ministers and mayors and people from every level of government and authority, whoever oppressed us, are now taking over to profit from an industry while they jail the pioneers and demonize us.

It's truly evil to the extreme, but governments have always been very evil when they're carrying out the drug war, and many of the unjust things that they do, but it sure is heartbreaking to know that I can't run or operate any Cannabis Culture, even though it was only a dispensary model for less than a year, but for 20 years plus, a magazine, a head shop, a vapor lounge, a movement, and now I'm not even allowed to step foot inside my home, my Cannabis Culture home in Vancouver. I can't be the full activist that I hoped to, through business, but now I'm out of work, and I'm a full time activist, and I've been relentless, and I continue to be relentless in my campaigning to end the arrests, to stop the raids, to let our people come forward and just to stop demonizing the cannabis community.

We're still fighting an uphill battle, and, you know, with all of us, we're in the US and Canada and even around the world, we feel like we're on the losing side for so long, and then we get gains and victories, and we win a little, and then people get a bit complacent, and then the enemy fights back, and then the enemy gains ground, and that's what we're seeing now is a strong push back where men with guns on behalf of the government and licensed producer corporate interests, they're oppressing our people and demonizing us and lying about us in the media in order to prevent us from being part of the industry that we helped create and that they're trying to usurp.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, and Jodie, it strikes me as odd, bizarre, evil really, that, you know, you guys have stuck your neck out, so to speak, you guys have committed your time, your energy, your lives, to making this change happen, to make it possible for the everyday joe to get reasonably priced cannabis that's not poisoned, you know, in their neighborhood. And the government there is wanting people to do it by mail order from these large entities. Is that correct?

JODIE EMERY: That's correct. And, you know, it's very sad to know that the people who started this, the people who pushed hardest, running for office, campaigning, protesting, marching in the streets. I mean, I was a Liberal Party candidate, nomination candidate, for well over a year, and I was all over the national media endlessly promoting the Liberals, because of legalization. We all bought into the hope, and this Prime Minister has turned on many different groups: on First Nations, on the environment, on everybody. This Prime Minister Trudeau is a hypocrite and a traitor, even though he's a pot smoker himself. It's appalling.

So the idea that the people who fought hardest and sacrificed most are going to be frozen out, while everyone else who did nothing to make it possible gets the profit, that's wrong, and I don't usually believe in excluding some people from a market and others, you know, letting them get in, but when it comes to the drug war, this is, this marijuana industry is not like the dot com boom, or the app boom, or yoga studios becoming popular, or organic juice cleanses, or, you know, we have all sorts of economic fads that are incredibly profitable, but marijuana's not new.

Marijuana's already been around, there are already people growing it and selling it and buying it, but some of these people that get into the business side of things think, oh, well it's an emerging industry, there's all this economic opportunity from this new marijuana thing that's on the scene. So they act as if all of our oppressed tens and hundreds of thousands of people, hiding in the shadows, they act like we don't exist, and they don't want to let us come forward and take our place.

So our cannabis community throughout North America continues to have to hide while these business types pretend that they've invented something new. But they don't realize that, unlike the dot com boom or the yoga craze, you know, people didn't die from the hands of police for those industries. People weren't oppressed and demonized. You didn't lose your travel rights and your kids and your home and your job and your right to vote, you don't lose those things for being a pioneer in organic food. You know? The marijuana industry, we've suffered, our people have suffered, we've paid the price with our blood. We've been oppressed, and demonized. These other industries never experienced that.

Marijuana prohibition, though, has so many victims. Once prohibition ends, those victims need recognition, and the people who paid the biggest price deserve a spot at the table. And when we look at who's profiting off of all of this, you know, JZ did a great video with the Drug Policy Alliance, where they said, why are white men poised to profit for something that black men go to jail for every day? Like, the idea that the people who have suffered most are still going to suffer, while the people who oppressed us get to benefit and prosper, that's unjust.

And so, I don't know what will happen to me in the future, I don't know if I'm going to run a pot company or what. I have to wait a couple of years while this trial and my life sentence possibility plays out. But, no matter what, I'm not going to stop until everybody gets a pardon, everybody gets amnesty, everybody gets an apology for the way that we've been mistreated for well over fifty years.

DEAN BECKER: Wow. Well, there you have it, my friends, that's Mrs. Jodie Emery, wife of Mister Marc Emery, the Prince of Pot. Jodie, I've got one more question I want to delve into. You know, there are trolls and naysayers out there on the web that say you guys are profiting, you're in, aligned with criminals, they say that you're, you know, just bad people. But I've got to say this, it was about 15 years ago, I was starving, but I was trying to start up the Drug Truth Network, and Mister Marc Emery sent me thousands of dollars. I guess derived from his seed sales, for which he went to a US prison for a five year sentence. I've just got to say, you guys are good people, and those trolls and those naysayers can all go to hell. Your closing thoughts, Jodie Emery.

JODIE EMERY: Thank you, Dean. Well, it's funny, all these people saying that we're just profiteering. They seem to forget that from 2005 until 2016, so we're talking eleven years, we were broke. Cannabis Culture was struggling. My husband was in prison. I was a single income earner, I just paid my rent and paid for food, and was able to get by, and keep people employed.

I ran our one little head shop and vapor lounge and our magazine, and while my husband was in jail, which is very expensive, and while we went through five years of court, which is very expensive, and when we hired lawyers to try and get him home, also very expensive, we had to raise funds from people. We had to ask for donations. We had to work hard to earn money to get by. And we struggled. We really struggled, and even though we were struggling, I went down to California and campaigned for Prop 19. I went to Washington and campaigned. I went to Ottawa in Canada. I've organized rallies, I marched in the streets, I appeared in the media. I educated, I did outreach, I did not stop, even though we did it all for free because that's what activists do. We do this out of the passion of our hearts.

But when Marc got out of jail in 2014, and then 2015 went by, and we were helping legalize it by electing the Liberals, and everybody was selling pot and opening dispensaries, and there was pot shops on every corner, and everybody's making money, and everything's groovy and nobody's getting arrested, I look around, and I say, how is that Marc and I are going to watch Cannabis Culture fade away into obscurity? How can we let our brand, which is a pioneer, turn into a dinosaur, and go extinct?

So, we thought in order to keep up our activism, which was so pivotal for so long, we needed to get into business. And even though all those years Marc was in jail, and we went through court, we didn't sell seeds, we didn't sell weed, I didn't have a dime, now, in the last, you know, ten months, we expanded into this dispensary model. But even that we didn't have money for, we had to borrow money, we had to make deals with people, that we were basically begging for survival.

So, you know what, we built up a beautiful model, this franchise dream I was dreaming of, people can go and look at our vision and our mission, our mission statement, and they'll see what we were trying to do. The model we were trying to build out was not about getting rich ourselves, although you need to be rich in order to fund activism and charities, so again, there's nothing wrong with actually making money, when you need it to fund a movement, but as long as you're not robbing anybody or using force or coercion, making money's not a sin. If it's consensual transactions and everybody's happy, there's no harm there.

But when you use money for evil, and you use evil means to get money, that's wrong. But if you earn money through doing good, and you use that money for good things, that's amazing and that's a beautiful thing. So of course, that's what we were building out, but we didn't strike it rich. We were in it for a very short time, and we were stopped because the police and the government do not like our motto, because every time we opened a store, we said, this is what legalization looks like: open access, equality for all. And that's not the model the government wants, so they had to make sure they snuffed out our dreams.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Loss of personal freedom, family and possessions, ineligible for government funding, education, licensing, housing or employment, loss of aggressive mindset in a dangerous world, this drug's peaceful easy feeling may be habit forming. Time's up! The answer: doobie, jimmy, joint, reefer, spliff, jibber, jay, biffa, jazz, blunt, steege, greener, cracker, hogger, bone, carrot, maryjane, marijuana, cannabis sativa. Made by God. Prohibited by man.

The following is from a US House address from Representative Tulsi Gabbard.

US REPRESENTATIVE TULSI GABBARD: I'm rising today to urge my colleagues to support HR1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. Our current laws are turning everyday Americans into criminals, sending them to jail, ruining their lives, tearing apart families, and wasting huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for marijuana use, a drug that has been proven time and time again to be far less dangerous than alcohol.

Rather than actually helping people, our current laws are turning them into criminals, forever impacting their future and the future of their families. Over the years, we've spent hundreds of billions of dollars locking people up for nonviolent marijuana offenses, creating strain within our criminal justice system, clogging court calendars, and resulting in further overcrowding our prisons.

DEAN BECKER: Next up, we're going to hear from a gentleman who's been my guest, gosh, several times, I think approaching a half dozen. He's a former member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, in fact he was on the board, and of course they've now changed the name to Law Enforcement Action Partnership. But he's a man very much involved in examining this drug war, pointing out the harms and the failures of it. He's a former prosecutor in the city of Chicago, my friend, Jim Gierach is with us. Hello, Jim.

JIM GIERACH: Dean, it's great to be with you.

DEAN BECKER: Jim, you know, it seems, to those who have their eyes open, that the harms of the drug war are becoming more obvious every day. Does that strike you the same way?

JIM GIERACH: The harms and the price tags that go with those harms.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir.


DEAN BECKER: Now, the good thing is, I understand you're going to be starting a new television series up there in Chicago, examining this drug war. Am I right?

JIM GIERACH: That's correct. On April Fourth, 7 pm, each of thirteen Tuesdays, consecutively, we will be doing a show called Chicago's War on Drugs. It will be the first time that there's been a show in Chicago that's really concentrated on the drug war and its harms, and bringing in people from many fields to discuss that problem.

DEAN BECKER: And, Jim, it occurs to me that, you know, I watch a lot of TV detective shows, with my girlfriend, and you know, we tend to hear a lot of stories coming in about Chicago, the violence there, you know, they've got the Chicago police, fire, justice, and everything else on TV now. But, one of the main focal points is drug war and revenge, there in Chicago, and that's certainly going on, isn't it?

JIM GIERACH: We had 780 homicides in 2016. We had over 4,000 nonfatal shooting victims in Chicago. A week or so ago, the superintendent of police, Eddy Johnson, testified before the state legislature, a committee of the senate, to say that the gang violence in Chicago is driven by the drug trade, and therefore we need to increase the penalties for guns. How's that for a non sequitur?

DEAN BECKER: But typical enough of the quote mindset that tends to approach this as if one more, or one less gun would make a difference, or that somehow we can stop it at the border, or, I don't know, just the many ways that they think will finally be the cure, and a hundred years, 80 years, however you want to approach it here, since they prohibited drugs, has not made one bit of difference, in fact it increases the violence, increases the mayhem, does it not, Jim?

JIM GIERACH: Well, the funny thing about drug policy, it's not too funny, it's serious, that the harder we try to repress drugs, the more they flourish. We outlaw things that grow on plants, and we make the products of the plants one of the most valuable commodities on the face of the earth. It's hard for people who care about their children and their families and their lives and their communities to face the reality that the war on drugs, which Americans and the world consented to put in place, and they did so with the object of saving their kids and communities, and instead, have seen year after year, the problems of drugs and guns and gangs and violence and prisons and taxes and deficits and AIDS and healthcare and bullethole healthcare all becoming problems of greater proportion instead of less.

And so, I think America has already reached that tipping point, where they recognize the war on drugs doesn't work. The war on drugs makes it worse. The problem is how do we get the American majority to now move a little bit further to reform, and say that we need to control and regulate dangerous substances like we do cars and guns, instead of saying we're going to outlaw them.

DEAN BECKER: I josh you sometimes, it seems Chicago would have been the one that, the first learned, you know, of the frailty of this policy. You know, it's often used as an example for, you know, alcohol prohibition and why we wanted to end it, but it seems the same set of symptoms are now in play again, and yet, like you say, was it a deputy police chief was talking about, we need to get rid of the guns. It just seems so obvious, the cause of this, and the solution. Your response, there, Jim.

JIM GIERACH: Sure. Well, it was the superintendent of police, and not the deputy, who's actually the chief of police, called the superintendent here in Chicago, who says that the drug trade drives gang violence, and yet is saying nothing about changing drug laws. And so that's the problem, and with this television show that we have coming up now, we're going to have the opportunity to call in politicians, community leaders, and healthcare people, people from the medical field, people from the religious field, people who are concerned about what to do about the gun violence, so, that often involves gun control, people who have the authority and power to amend UN drug treaties, which is the fountainhead for world drug prohibition.

These are the kinds of people I hope to have on the program, and we did get a confirmation today with an alderman from the most powerful African-American ward in the city, who's accepted to be on the program on April 11th. Rod Sawyer is going to be a guest, and his, I believe it's his father who was formerly the mayor of the city of Chicago for a while.


JIM GIERACH: So, we expect to have some important political and powerful people appearing on the show, and we'll have the opportunity to ask them, you know, which is worse, drugs or the war on drugs? And that's the question that Americans need to be putting to themselves day after day as we hear and see the bad news and the headlines day after day.

DEAN BECKER: Well, friends, we've been speaking with Mister James Gierach, former prosecutor in Chicago, one of my allies in hoping to -- helping, I should say, to end this drug war, and he's going to have TV program airing in Chicago, thirteen week series, and I think I'm right in saying this, Jim, they'll be able to watch your show from anywhere. Is that correct?

JIM GIERACH: Yes, the show can be seen streaming live on CAN, and the website that will get you there to hear it live is CANTV.org/hotline. Every Tuesday, 7 pm central time, starting April the Fourth.

DEAN BECKER: The following song, Eternal War, features the Houston great Guy Schwartz and yours truly.

[music] If they stop Afghanistan from growing opium
And they cut down the Colombian cocaine,
When Mexico runs out of marijuana,
They think that we’ll quit getting high.
But the drug store on the corner's standing by.
Are we just peasants in the field

Cut me loose,
Set me free,
Judge what I do
Not what’s inside of me.
Why do you pick my pocket?
Just let me light my rocket.
Who died and made you the boss of me?
Get out of my life, let me be.

Pfizer and Merck kill more of us
Than the cartels crap ever could.
They thank us for our silence,
Each year’s hundred billion dollars,
And the chance to do it forever more.
Drugs, the first eternal war

Cut me loose,
Set me free,
Judge what I do
Not what’s inside of me.
Why do you pick my pocket?
Just let me light my rocket.
Who died and made you the boss of me?
Get out of my life, let me be.

Are we just peasants in the field
Let’s stand for truth or forever kneel.
Every 16 seconds we hear the slamming door
And we owe it all to eternal war,
The first eternal war

Please be sure to join us next week on Cultural Baggage, when one of our guests will be the district attorney of Houston, Harris County, Kim Ogg, to talk about the success of the misdemeanor marijuana diversion program.

Folks, the drug war's ending, slow, ugly, and bloody. And you can help it to an early demise, if you just get off your ass. I remind you again, because of prohibition, you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.