'We're still criminals': Pot activist Jodie Emery 'distressed' by marijuana bill
Despite some politicians hailing the Senate’s decision to pass the federal government’s plan to legalize cannabis as a “historic” moment for Canada, not everyone is happy about the impending legislation.
Pot activist Jodie Emery says she is “distressed” by the Liberal government’s Bill C-45.
The law, which still requires Royal Assent by the Crown before it can be enacted, is expected to come into force as early as mid-September. It will allow Canadian adults to legally possess and use small amounts of recreational marijuana and sets out parametres on growing, distributing, selling, and possessing the drug, along with safety standards.
Emery, who is married to the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery, says that the headlines concerning Canada’s legalization of cannabis are ultimately good, but the legislation’s details leave much to be desired.
“[Bill] C-45 introduces 45 new cannabis offences with maximums going up to 14 years, equating cannabis to pornography with children, terrorism, and assaulting police,” she told CTV News Channel on Wednesday.
The pot activist listed fines for smoking cannabis in public, penalties for having home-grown plants visible in B.C., and eviction for smoking in a rental apartment as examples of restrictive policies under the new plan.
“There are so many, so many problems that I find it very hard to celebrate today being a criminal for cannabis alongside hundreds of thousands of others,” she explained.
Emery and her husband were convicted of a number of drug-related charges in 2017. The couple owned the brand Cannabis Culture, under which a number of franchised pot dispensaries operated. They were fined $195,000 each, and given two years’ probation with conditions.
“For me and so many others, we wake up today seeing nothing different. We’re still criminals in the eyes of the government,” she said. “I’m still being punished.”
Emery said Bill C-45 fails to explain what will happen to those who have already been convicted of cannabis-related crimes.
“The civil liberties advocates, the lawyers, the people who represent marginalized, Indigenous youth, the poor, all of the victims of prohibition, we aren’t celebrating today,” she said. “Where’s our apology? Where’s our amnesty? It’s nowhere to be found.”
Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the ministers of health and justice and the government’s point person on the cannabis file, said they’re currently focused on repealing and replacing the existing legislation before they can turn their attention to Canadians who already have criminal records for pot-related offences.
“The law remains in effect until it’s repealed and replaced… any discussion of those records can’t take place until that process is complete,” he told reporters in the foyer of the House of Commons on Wednesday. “It will then be possible for the government to turn its mind to the issue of the existing records or any disparity that exists there.”
When asked if the government was “open” to the possibility of pardoning those with existing records, Blair responded that it was “premature” to say.
I’m sorry to say I cannot celebrate.— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) June 20, 2018
There are now 45 new federal cannabis offences & many harsher penalties under #C45. Pardons & amnesty aren’t included. Criminalization & gov’t anti-pot propaganda continue.
But the “legalization passes” headline is a good message, at least.