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Canadian Activist Clings to Civil Disobedience Right, Says Cannabis Usurped by Govt

Canadian Activist Clings to Civil Disobedience Right, Says Cannabis Usurped by Govt

Dina Al-Shibeeb
The "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery and his wife Jodie are pictured in Vancouver, in this May 10, 2010 photo. Emery is expected to be released from prison in the United States within days, but it could be weeks before Marc Emery and his followers can celebrate his freedom. (File image via Canadian Press)

Canadian cannabis activist Marc Emery criticized the upcoming sweeping legalization of cannabis in Canada.

In a series of tweets, the prominent marijuana activist Marc Emery clung on to the right for Canadians to use civil disobedience to make changes on the ground and criticized the government’s “usurpation” of the cannabis market.   

What we are getting is our industry usurped from us by gov and regulators so that the costs are unnecessarily enormous such that only rich entities with millions of dollars can comply,” he wrote, adding that “virtually the entire existing cannabis culture and our peaceful practices remain criminalized.”

His tweets were in response to comments made by Trina Fraser, a lawyer whose law firm already has equity positions with marijuana licensed producers. 

On Reddit, Trina wrote that people who want to see changes made on the upcoming marijuana regulations, need to make it from the “inside” as opposed to the conventional Canadian way of civil obedience, which was behind all the changes made to make marijuana more accessible to Canadians.

Legalization or privatization?

Trina wrote civil obedience is “not the case any longer.”  She added: “Anyone who has the ability to enter the legal market, I encourage them to do so. Their voices will resonate… when advocating for reasonable regulatory change from the ‘inside’.”

Emery asked Trina to define “ability”

He said: “One can establish a successful unregulated retail or cultivation canna-business with $25,000-$50,000 investment, enough to make a good living & serve your community well. Integrity & reputation is a quality you earn, but the opportunity has to be affordable.”

Emery, who is often described as “the Prince of Pot,” has reflected what other critics are also saying about the upcoming legalization as mere privatization, beneficial to the rich and the able. It has been reported that cops and politicians have already made hefty investments in the lucrative marijuana business. 

Applying for a license from Health Canada is not only time-consuming but also costly, with other critics such as the activist Dana Larsen describing the “black market” as the real form of free market that should prevail.

Trina also said that “continued civil disobedience” is “helpful” as it “does nothing to advance…a diverse & inclusive industry & undermines the many who are willing to comply with the regulation.”

In response, Emery criticizes Trudeau government’s proposal of the Cannabis Act, which widens the possibilities of getting people arrested or jailed. 

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“There are 8 [ Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (S.C. 1996, c. 19)] CDSA offenses involving marijuana that can put you in jail. In 50 years only courts ever got laws changed. Civil disobedience got us into courts,” he said.

But “the Cannabis Act has 45 offenses involving marijuana that result in arrest/jail/fine.Why is civil disobedience passé then?”

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