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EDITORIAL: Ahead of the smoke
A lot has happened since Marc Emery went to jail in the United States four years ago.
Not the least of which the state in which the Vancouver pot activist was sentenced to five years in federal prison for dealing marijuana seeds has now legalized the sale of cannabis.
While Emery cooled his heels behind bars in Folkston, Ga., and Yazoo City, Miss., Colorado and then Washington became the first states to allow the possession, use, production, distribution and personal cultivation of marijuana. Some states have legalized its use for medical reasons. Another 15 states have decriminalized pot while other states have lowered penalties for possession of small amounts to a misdemeanour.
The tide to accept marijuana for recreational use on par with alcohol, complete with all the tax revenues their sale generates for governments, seems to be turning.
In Canada, possession of marijuana in any quantity remains illegal. Although enforcement varies from province to province, even between municipalities.
Vancouver police were unperturbed by the marijuana smoke that greeted Emery’s triumphant return to his hometown on Sunday.
Emery’s incarceration in the U.S. wasn’t his first brush with the law. Nor with irony.
When he operated a book shop in London, Ont., in the 1980s, he was charged with defying that province’s laws against stores operating on Sundays. Since 1992 stores in Ontario can open on Sundays.
In 1991 he was convicted of selling copies of rap CDs that had been deemed obscene and were banned in Ontario. As Nasty As They Wanna Be by 2 Live Crew can now be easily downloaded on iTunes.
It seems once again Emery is on the leading edge of a societal shift.