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Emery Charged with Trafficking


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Source: Regina Leader-Post (CN SN)
Author: Dan Kinvig, CanWest News Service 
Published: Wednesday, March 24, 2004
Copyright: 2004 The Leader-Post 
Contact: [email protected]

Saskatoon -- Well-known marijuana activist Marc Emery was arrested for trafficking the drug Monday evening in Saskatoon.

Emery, who had given a speech at the University of Saskatchewan earlier in the evening touting the New Democratic Party's plan to decriminalize pot, was taken into custody by Saskatoon police at the Vimy Memorial bandshell at 11:30 p.m.

He made a brief appearance in provincial court Tuesday morning, where the Crown dropped a charge of possession of marijuana and set a bail hearing for 10:30 a.m. today. Emery was remanded in custody until then.

Emery, a Vancouver-based marijuana seed dealer and publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine, was on a month-long university speaking tour. 

Emery's tour coordinator Jody Pressman called the arrest "politically motivated." 

"I mean, here's a guy who's going cross-country to raise the issue of not only marijuana law reform but the NDP policy of law reform," Pressman said in an interview.

"The police are doing Marc Emery a favour by illustrating just how failed and harmful these laws are."

Pressman wondered if Emery was in jail because he had been targeted by Saskatoon police.

"There's some serious questions about the timing and the nature of Marc's arrest, and the zealousness with which it's been pursued," he said. 

"They must have known he was on a political tour of this nature to raise public awareness about the federal election and the NDP's policies on marijuana." 

Saskatoon police did not to give many details about Emery's arrest, but Staff Sgt. Murray Zoorkan said police went to the bandshell after receiving a call about people smoking pot there. "Everything else ... will have to be released by the courts," Zoorkan said.

Justin McGowan, one of about 15 who were with Emery at the bandshell, was the only other person arrested. He was charged with possession.

In an interview Tuesday, McGowan said Emery suggested after his speech that everyone "meet up and smoke pot."

"Around 11 (p.m.), Marc Emery ... comes to the memorial and starts lighting joints and handing them out and passing them around," McGowan said.

Police arrived about half an hour later and asked if anyone was smoking marijuana. According to McGowan, Emery immediately spoke up, and was arrested.

"He was really amicable about it, and just sort of resigned to it," the U of S philosophy student said.

"I don't think those charges should really exist. It's a law that needs to change," he added.

Nathan Holowaty, president of the Young NDP at the U of S, was surprised to hear that Emery had been arrested.

"I didn't think he would actually get arrested. I thought ... if he was coming into town, he would probably keep it low key," he said.

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