Marc Emery’s U.S. prosecutor urges pot legalization

John McKay once prosecuted B.C.’s ‘Prince of Pot’ Marc Emery
CBC News Posted: Apr 18, 2012 12:12 PM PT

Former U.S. Attorney John McKay joined marijuana legalization activist Jodie Emery in Vancouver on Wednesday.

The former U.S. district attorney who prosecuted B.C. marijuana activist Marc Emery in a cross-border sting is calling for the legalization and taxation of pot in Canada and the U.S.

John McKay, a former U.S. attorney for the western district of Washington State, was joined by Emery’s wife Jodie and former B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant at a lecture in Vancouver on Wednesday.

McKay said he did not regret prosecuting Emery because he broke U.S. law, but he believes the war on pot has been a complete and total failure. He said the laws keeping pot illegal no longer serve any purpose, but allow gangs and cartels to generate billions in profits.

"I want to say this just as clearly and as forthrightly as I can, marijuana prohibition, criminal prohibition of marijuana is a complete failure," McKay said.

McKay said marijuana, like alcohol, should be produced and sold to adults by the government, and that would generate at least half a billion dollars in revenue annually in Washington State alone.

More importantly, he said, ending prohibition would end the violent reign of gangs and drug cartels who are profiting from the situation. He said any prohibition in society requires broad support from the population, and that isn’t the case with marijuana.

The appearance was organized by Stop the Violence BC, a coalition of high-profile academic, legal, law enforcement and health experts, which is working to reduce crime and public health problems stemming from the prohibition on marijuana.

The group includes several former B.C. attorneys general, several former Vancouver mayors, a former B.C. premier and a former RCMP superintendent for the province.

McKay, a Republican, was a U.S. Attorney from 2001 to 2007, when he resigned or was fired along with eight other U.S attorneys by President Bush.

He is now a professor in the faculty of law at Seattle University and an avid supporter of the Washington State ballot initiative for the November election to implement a regulated, taxed market for marijuana.

Marc Emery remains in prison in the U.S., serving a five-year sentence for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana through his mail-order cannabis seed business.

Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail

Marc Emery

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Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail and using the proceeds to finance advocacy and political campaigns in the United States and worldwide from 1994-2005. See www.FreeMarc.ca for more information

 

……

When I first began my Vancouver hemp store, HEMP BC, in July 1994, my first hires were Ian Hunter and Danna Rozek, two people I’d met in the months prior to opening my retail shop at 324 West Hastings (across from the location, 18 years later, of Cannabis Culture Headquarters). I noticed right away that Danna and her friend, also hired at Hemp BC, Cindy Lassu, were ‘Deadheads,’ totally committed to the culture and language and music of the Grateful Dead.

I remember my surprise and curiosity when Ian and Danna both yelled elatedly at 4:20 pm each afternoon I was in their company, "It’s 4:20, smoke ’em if ya got ’em." I had never heard that phrase or ritual before, and yet I’d been smoking pot (in London, Ontario) since 1981. I moved to Vancouver in March of 1994.

I thought it was an odd west coast thing, something peculiar to Vancouver. In conversations I had with High Times editor Steve Hagar, I learned that it first became a ritual in the high schools of central California around 1976 or so. Up to the mid-70’s, high school classes went to 4 pm, so by the time school was out, and you got out of class, 4:20 pm became a time of congregation to smoke a joint.

Some of those high school students were followers of the Grateful Dead, joining in the legendary treks across America following that ubiquitous San Francisco band on what is known as ‘Dead Tour.’ There they continued their smoking pot at 4.20 pm ritual with an enthusiastic "It’s Four Twenty!"

So starting in those California high schools, those students graduated and continued their ritual in the very iconoclastic society of "Deadheads" that followed the band the Grateful Dead on their tours across America and Europe in the mid and late 70’s. 4:20 become an established part of Deadhead culture by the early 80’s, and when ever one Deadhead wanted to see how hip you might be, the question "What time is it?" began to be a litmus test of the culture. If you gave the regular time, you were ‘straight,’ but if you responded "It’s 4:20!" (no matter what time it was), you were cool, ‘one of us.’ In Deadhead culture, at 4:20 pm, one yelled out to friends, "It’s 4:20!" and joint smoking ensued.

When in July 1994, in my little revolutionary activist headquarters HEMP BC shop open on Hastings St. in downtown Vancouver, I allowed the staff and any customers to smoke pot in the store, so at 4:20 pm every day, Danna, Ian, Cindy, and by November 1994, Dana Larsen, would yell "It’s 4:20" and everyone would light up. Back then, even most of our customers had never heard this ‘4:20’ thing before, as only a few months earlier, neither had I.

In March 1995, while working as manager of my Hemp BC store, Danna and Cindy asked me at my desk, "Marc, can we have a 420 celebration next door at Hemp For Victory Square (which is what we called Victory Square at Cambie & Hastings back then) on April 20?"

"What do you mean?" I asked, " You mean we should go over and smoke in the park at 4:20 on April 20 because that’s the 4th month, 20th day?"

"No," replied Danna, " I mean we should party over there all day on April 20, not just at 4:20 in the afternoon."

"My God, no, that’s decadent, we can’t party all day" I said, being very much of the Ayn Rand school of cannabis liberation, and thinking a day-long party was unthinkable to my capitalist work ethic.

So Danna and Cindy went back to work in the store. An hour later Danna came back to me and said, "Even though you don’t approve, can we do it anyway?"

I thought about that and asked, "Well, what would you do?"

Danna replied, "We’d get a PA system, invite a few bands, give speeches, smoke lots of pot, from, say, noon to 5 pm."

"Do you think we’d get away with that?" I asked incredulously.

"Yes! It’ll be so much fun."

"All right. You can give it a shot." I conceded.

"Will you help us because you have the money and we’ll need electrical power, cables, PA equipment, and other things?" she cajoled.

"Okay," I remember laughing at her audacity, "I’ll help you."

On April 20, 1995, it was a beautiful sunny day, and 6 cables ran from various electrical outlets at Hemp BC seventy-five feet to Victory Square to supply power for the PA system, the microphones, amplifiers. The party began around noon but because it was a very new idea, never done on April 20 any time before, there were about only 150 people by 2 pm, peaking at 250 people at 4:20 pm. Nonetheless, open pot smoking went on for about 6 hours without any police interference, much to my surprise, only 25 feet from a major intersection of Hastings and Cambie. Everyone who came seemed to have a wonderful time.

The following year, in 1996, at Victory Square again, 500 people came at its peak. For 1997, we moved the event to the Vancouver Art Gallery, its current location, where about 1,000 people came. By 2003 and 2004, 3,000 people attended at its peak at 4:20pm, but in 2005, the number attending exploded to 6,000, and every year since then, numbers increase, with 10,000 in 2009, 13,000 in 2011, and upwards of 15,000 expected this year.

You can see video of Vancouver 4/20 from 2006 to 2011 at the website www.Vancouver420.com. My pioneering video website www.Pot.tv has archival footage of the 4/20 from 2002 to 2005. When YouTube came out, videos of our smoking protest party went viral and the event was emulated in other cities. Now the Vancouver event is so popular, hundreds of people come as early as 9 am to start the party, with thousands at the art gallery grounds by noon, and by 3 pm it is densely packed.

From 2000 to 2008, the master of ceremonies was activist David Malmo-Levine, who at 4:10 would ask people in the crowds to sit down while he and other ‘volunteers’ tossed joints out to the masses, making sure all would have something to smoke at 4:20 pm. Then Peter Tosh’s ‘Legalize It’ would play at 4:20 pm and a huge, incredible plume of bluish smoke would rise above the assembled mass; you could smell it 3 to 4 blocks away, and on video and in photographs looked spectacular.

Over the years pot vendors selling joints, bags of pot, pot cookies, pot brownies, and various cannabis consumables became a prominent aspect of the festivities. Never in the history of the 4/20 celebration have police interfered with selling or consumption of cannabis. Beautifully, there have been very few incidents of cannabis overuse and virtually no unhappy medical emergencies.

For 2011 and 2012, the event has become very sophisticated, with excellent musical entertainment organized by Adam Bowen, featuring musicians and genres from across the musical spectrum, with prominent staging and sound amplification. Media from all over Canada photograph, videotape, broadcast and cover the event. As always since the beginning, www.CannabisCulture.com has coverage of the event.

In the recent decade, April 20 celebrations by the cannabis culture began to be seen everywhere around the world, certainly every major city in the United States and Canada now has a April 20 celebration, and in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. That’s the power of YouTube and 4/20!

This day is now famous everywhere in the world now as ‘the national holiday of the cannabis culture,’ but we’re proud it started here in Vancouver first, 17 years ago, in 1995!

Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail and using the proceeds to finance advocacy and political campaigns in the United States and worldwide from 1994-2005. See www.FreeMarc.ca for more information

Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail

Marc Emery

Marc Emery

RSS Feed

GET UPDATES FROM Marc Emery

Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail and using the proceeds to finance advocacy and political campaigns in the United States and worldwide from 1994-2005. See www.FreeMarc.ca for more information

 

……

When I first began my Vancouver hemp store, HEMP BC, in July 1994, my first hires were Ian Hunter and Danna Rozek, two people I’d met in the months prior to opening my retail shop at 324 West Hastings (across from the location, 18 years later, of Cannabis Culture Headquarters). I noticed right away that Danna and her friend, also hired at Hemp BC, Cindy Lassu, were ‘Deadheads,’ totally committed to the culture and language and music of the Grateful Dead.

I remember my surprise and curiosity when Ian and Danna both yelled elatedly at 4:20 pm each afternoon I was in their company, “It’s 4:20, smoke ’em if ya got ’em.” I had never heard that phrase or ritual before, and yet I’d been smoking pot (in London, Ontario) since 1981. I moved to Vancouver in March of 1994.

I thought it was an odd west coast thing, something peculiar to Vancouver. In conversations I had with High Times editor Steve Hagar, I learned that it first became a ritual in the high schools of central California around 1976 or so. Up to the mid-70’s, high school classes went to 4 pm, so by the time school was out, and you got out of class, 4:20 pm became a time of congregation to smoke a joint.

Some of those high school students were followers of the Grateful Dead, joining in the legendary treks across America following that ubiquitous San Francisco band on what is known as ‘Dead Tour.’ There they continued their smoking pot at 4.20 pm ritual with an enthusiastic “It’s Four Twenty!”

So starting in those California high schools, those students graduated and continued their ritual in the very iconoclastic society of “Deadheads” that followed the band the Grateful Dead on their tours across America and Europe in the mid and late 70’s. 4:20 become an established part of Deadhead culture by the early 80’s, and when ever one Deadhead wanted to see how hip you might be, the question “What time is it?” began to be a litmus test of the culture. If you gave the regular time, you were ‘straight,’ but if you responded “It’s 4:20!” (no matter what time it was), you were cool, ‘one of us.’ In Deadhead culture, at 4:20 pm, one yelled out to friends, “It’s 4:20!” and joint smoking ensued.

When in July 1994, in my little revolutionary activist headquarters HEMP BC shop open on Hastings St. in downtown Vancouver, I allowed the staff and any customers to smoke pot in the store, so at 4:20 pm every day, Danna, Ian, Cindy, and by November 1994, Dana Larsen, would yell “It’s 4:20” and everyone would light up. Back then, even most of our customers had never heard this ‘4:20’ thing before, as only a few months earlier, neither had I.

In March 1995, while working as manager of my Hemp BC store, Danna and Cindy asked me at my desk, “Marc, can we have a 420 celebration next door at Hemp For Victory Square (which is what we called Victory Square at Cambie & Hastings back then) on April 20?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, ” You mean we should go over and smoke in the park at 4:20 on April 20 because that’s the 4th month, 20th day?”

“No,” replied Danna, ” I mean we should party over there all day on April 20, not just at 4:20 in the afternoon.”

“My God, no, that’s decadent, we can’t party all day” I said, being very much of the Ayn Rand school of cannabis liberation, and thinking a day-long party was unthinkable to my capitalist work ethic.

So Danna and Cindy went back to work in the store. An hour later Danna came back to me and said, “Even though you don’t approve, can we do it anyway?”

I thought about that and asked, “Well, what would you do?”

Danna replied, “We’d get a PA system, invite a few bands, give speeches, smoke lots of pot, from, say, noon to 5 pm.”

“Do you think we’d get away with that?” I asked incredulously.

“Yes! It’ll be so much fun.”

“All right. You can give it a shot.” I conceded.

“Will you help us because you have the money and we’ll need electrical power, cables, PA equipment, and other things?” she cajoled.

“Okay,” I remember laughing at her audacity, “I’ll help you.”

On April 20, 1995, it was a beautiful sunny day, and 6 cables ran from various electrical outlets at Hemp BC seventy-five feet to Victory Square to supply power for the PA system, the microphones, amplifiers. The party began around noon but because it was a very new idea, never done on April 20 any time before, there were about only 150 people by 2 pm, peaking at 250 people at 4:20 pm. Nonetheless, open pot smoking went on for about 6 hours without any police interference, much to my surprise, only 25 feet from a major intersection of Hastings and Cambie. Everyone who came seemed to have a wonderful time.

The following year, in 1996, at Victory Square again, 500 people came at its peak. For 1997, we moved the event to the Vancouver Art Gallery, its current location, where about 1,000 people came. By 2003 and 2004, 3,000 people attended at its peak at 4:20pm, but in 2005, the number attending exploded to 6,000, and every year since then, numbers increase, with 10,000 in 2009, 13,000 in 2011, and upwards of 15,000 expected this year.

You can see video of Vancouver 4/20 from 2006 to 2011 at the website www.Vancouver420.com. My pioneering video website www.Pot.tv has archival footage of the 4/20 from 2002 to 2005. When YouTube came out, videos of our smoking protest party went viral and the event was emulated in other cities. Now the Vancouver event is so popular, hundreds of people come as early as 9 am to start the party, with thousands at the art gallery grounds by noon, and by 3 pm it is densely packed.

From 2000 to 2008, the master of ceremonies was activist David Malmo-Levine, who at 4:10 would ask people in the crowds to sit down while he and other ‘volunteers’ tossed joints out to the masses, making sure all would have something to smoke at 4:20 pm. Then Peter Tosh’s ‘Legalize It’ would play at 4:20 pm and a huge, incredible plume of bluish smoke would rise above the assembled mass; you could smell it 3 to 4 blocks away, and on video and in photographs looked spectacular.

Over the years pot vendors selling joints, bags of pot, pot cookies, pot brownies, and various cannabis consumables became a prominent aspect of the festivities. Never in the history of the 4/20 celebration have police interfered with selling or consumption of cannabis. Beautifully, there have been very few incidents of cannabis overuse and virtually no unhappy medical emergencies.

For 2011 and 2012, the event has become very sophisticated, with excellent musical entertainment organized by Adam Bowen, featuring musicians and genres from across the musical spectrum, with prominent staging and sound amplification. Media from all over Canada photograph, videotape, broadcast and cover the event. As always since the beginning, www.CannabisCulture.com has coverage of the event.

In the recent decade, April 20 celebrations by the cannabis culture began to be seen everywhere around the world, certainly every major city in the United States and Canada now has a April 20 celebration, and in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and South America. That’s the power of YouTube and 4/20!

This day is now famous everywhere in the world now as ‘the national holiday of the cannabis culture,’ but we’re proud it started here in Vancouver first, 17 years ago, in 1995!

Marc Emery is a Canadian activist imprisoned in the United States for selling marijuana seeds through the mail and using the proceeds to finance advocacy and political campaigns in the United States and worldwide from 1994-2005. See www.FreeMarc.ca for more information

The United States Marijuana Party

The United States Marijuana Party – is a motivated group of Americans who are tired of living in fear of their government because of marijuana prohibition. We are fed up with the intrusion into our personal lives, with urine testing at work and at school, with armed home invasions, and with the possibility of prison because of a plant. WE are Americans and WE do not piss in a cup for anyone!

WE feel it is time for the 20 million Americans who smoke marijuana on a regular basis to stop hiding their love for this plant and unite as one large body of voters to demand an end to the unconstitutional prohibition of marijuana and the drug war. The U.S. cannot lock up 20 million people.

The War on Drugs causes more harm than the drugs themselves ever will.

United WE are a potential 20 million vote political machine. WE want to live free and WE must be determined to stand up, be counted, demonstrate, rally, and write.

Waiting for the government to silence us all in the American prison system is not an option! Too many of our brethren are there, in prison right now.

More Americans are in jail today for marijuana offenses than at any previous time in American history. The war against marijuana is a genocidal war waged against us by a government determined to eradicate our plant, our culture, our freedom and our political rights.

Time Magazine Reports: U.S. Marijuana Party

U.S. Marijuana Party

By Christina Crapanzano Monday, Mar. 29, 2010
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Long before Loretta Nall campaigned on her cleavage, the activist’s cause was cannabis. The Alabama resident gained national attention during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign when she produced T-shirts with the caption “More of these boobs …” (with a photo of Nall in a low-cut shirt) “… And less of these boobs” (next to photos of her opponents). But the write-in candidate’s political roots date back to 2002, when a misdemeanor arrest for possession was the spark behind her forming the U.S. Marijuana Party (USMJP). The group — which demands “an end to the unconstitutional prohibition of marijuana” — has official party chapters in seven states, including Colorado, Illinois and Kentucky. While Nall left the USMJP to be a Libertarian Party governor nominee, the group continues to back candidates in local, state and national elections under the leadership of Richard Rawlings, who is currently running for Congress in Illinois.

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