An outspoken Canadian marijuana activist jailed for selling seeds to American customers has completed his sentence in a Mississippi prison.
After 1,590 days behind bars, Marc Emery was processed for release from Yazoo City Medium, a medium-security federal prison, on Wednesday morning. On Thursday morning, he is scheduled to be taken to LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, La., where he is expected to spend anywhere from a few days to several weeks before being taken to the Detroit-Windsor border, according to his wife, Jodie Emery.
Mr. Emery believes he will set foot on Canadian soil some time in mid-August, though his wife is hoping for either July 23 – the couple's eight-year anniversary – or July 29, the anniversary of the day nine years ago when Vancouver police, acting on American charges, raided Mr. Emery's Cannabis Culture headquarters on West Hastings Street. At the same time, Mr. Emery was arrested in Halifax as he prepared to speak at a medical-marijuana rally.
In Windsor, the couple is expected to speak briefly with media and then travel on to Toronto, where they will meet with supporters and see family.
"After spending five days out there, I will return with Jodie to Vancouver," Mr. Emery wrote this week in his final blog post from prison, "have a few public events and private parties, get settled in at work in our new Cannabis Culture store, and marvel at all the changes in Vancouver – including hundreds of new buildings, 35 dispensaries, years of developments at Marc & Jodie Emery's Cannabis Culture store and more."
Activists and political organizations have already booked the couple for speaking engagements in Spain, Ireland and Vienna this year, Ms. Emery said. There is also talk of a 30-city, pro-marijuana rally – not unlike Mr. Emery's 30-city, farewell tour in 2009 – and campaigning for the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader Justin Trudeau, who has freely expressed his support for the legalization of marijuana.
Ms. Emery, who is also being courted by the party, calls it an exciting time of change in Canada.
"After years of educating himself, looking at the science and facts and listening to public opinion, Trudeau has changed his position and [now] supports legalization," she said. "For us, that's a wonderful sign of true leadership: changing ideas based on science and public policy. … For us, the benefit is too great to ignore."
Much has changed since Canada's "Prince of Pot" began his five-year sentence, perhaps most notably the legalization of recreational marijuana use in two American states. Tuesday, the first day of legal marijuana sales in Washington State, saw pot enthusiasts lining up down city blocks.
"It's ironic that Emery is being released at the same time as Washington opens their first legal cannabis shops," said Dana Larsen, former Cannabis Culture magazine editor and current spokesman for Sensible BC in a statement. "Marc's life work has been dedicated to this cause and we are really anxious to get him back on Canadian soil to continue the fight."
On the day of Mr. Emery's arrest, Karen Tandy, then head of the DEA, called it "a significant blow not only to the marijuana-trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana-legalization movement."
In 2012, John McKay, the district attorney who prosecuted Mr. Emery, spoke at a news conference organized by Stop the Violence BC to come out in favour of the regulation and taxation of marijuana.
"I want to say this just as clearly and as forthrightly as I can," he said at the time. "Marijuana prohibition – criminal prohibition of marijuana – is a complete failure."