Great piece by Doug Struck in today’s Washington Post:
High Crimes, or a Tokin’ Figure?: Canadians find the ‘Prince of Pot’ Harmless. The DEA begs to differ.
It’s a full 3-page profile on Marc and his Marijuana crusades, that points out how clearly public he had been about his activities.
Until recently, nobody much cared, it seemed. The police hadn’t bothered to come around for eight years. Before that, they busted Emery for seed sales and raided him four times. But he just got fined — once with “a nice speech from the judge saying what a nice person I was and how marijuana probably shouldn’t be illegal,” Emery says — and the police stopped trying.
In truth, Emery hated being ignored. He tried to stir up notoriety. Every year, he filled out his income taxes listing his occupation as “Marijuana Seed Vendor,” paying heftily and honestly, he says, on his multimillion-dollar business. The Canadian Revenue Service never questioned him.
He told the Canada post office he was getting and sending his seeds through the mail. They never stopped delivery. He started the B.C. Marijuana Party, fielded 79 candidates in 2001, and ran repeatedly for local and federal offices. He never won.
He broadcast “Pot-TV” on the Internet, entertained politicians, and openly funded marches, lawsuits and marijuana-legalization drives from Arizona to Israel to Washington, D.C.
When it was too quiet at home, he would go somewhere to rattle up a pro-pot demonstration. He would light up a fat joint in front of a police station, daring the cops to arrest him.
Twenty-one times they did. Usually he got off, or was released after a night in jail, or fined. His longest stretch was 61 days in jail in 2004, ordered by a Saskatoon judge clearly irked at Emery’s in-your-face apologia. No big deal, Emery says. He read the Bible behind bars.
Then came the DEA.
Read the whole thing.
Between 60 Minutes and the Washington Post, Marc is starting to get some real momentum in the mainstream, and it’s all coming out as fairly positive press for him. People see him as a nice, quirky guy, not some monster. They notice that Canada had no interest in putting him away, and so the DEA comes off in not so great a light.
I think there’s a long-term chipping away that has been occurring, through a complete lack of understanding about public relations on the part of the DEA. The public has gotten bored with seizure photo-ops and are starting to realize that they have no meaning long-term. At the same time, they see DEA busts of medical marijuana patients with revulsion. And the Marc Emery extradition is not going to help the DEA at all.