08/31/14 Marc Emery

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Marc Emery released from US prison earlier this month talks about his time behind bars, appreciation of being free and time with his wife Jodie & plans for the future + Doug McVay report on cannabis reducing OD's on hard drugs

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / August 31, 2014


DEAN BECKER: Hi. This is Dean Becker urging you to sit down and turn it up. This is Cultural Baggage. Today’s guest are Marc and Jodie Emery.

BOB DYLAN: “There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”

“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”


DEAN BECKER: Thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. We intended to have Marc and Jodie Emery as our guests. That’s not going to work out. We had severe technical difficulties which delayed us in getting the show started so while we are waiting to get those technical difficulties sorted out I want to share with you a 4:20 report put together by Doug McVay, the editor of Drug War Facts who is producing the Century of Lies shows these days.


DOUG McVAY: It's the 420 Drug War News!

An article recently published in a journal from the American Medical Association, JAMA Internal Medicine, reports that state medical cannabis laws may be having a positive impact on opioid overdose deaths. The article is titled "Medical Cannabis Laws and Opioid Analgesic Overdose Mortality in the United States, 1999-2010 ." The researchers found, "Three states (California, Oregon, and Washington) had medical cannabis laws effective prior to 1999. Ten states (Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Vermont) enacted medical cannabis laws between 1999 and 2010. States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws. Examination of the association between medical cannabis laws and opioid analgesic overdose mortality in each year after implementation of the law showed that such laws were associated with a lower rate of overdose mortality that generally strengthened over time:"

They concluded, "Medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. Further investigation is required to determine how medical cannabis laws may interact with policies aimed at preventing opioid analgesic overdose. "

Now, it's important to approach these results with caution. These data show a correlation yet they don't prove causation. That is, we don't know for sure that access to legal medical cannabis has actually caused the lower mortality rates, that's why more research is needed, there could be other confounding factors. On the other hand, previously published surveys of medical cannabis patients show that many report having reduced their use of prescription medications as a result of medical cannabis use, so perhaps we will find proof of causation. I can think of three ways in which medical cannabis could positively impact overdose mortality:

1) People could be reducing their use of opioid analgesics, substituting medical cannabis instead to control pain.

2) People could be reducing their use of alcohol in combination with opioids, substituting medical cannabis instead. Alcohol and opiates are central nervous system depressants and the combination can be deadly. Often deaths from that combination get reported simply as opioid overdoses.

3) People could be reducing their use of other medications such as tranquillizers or anti-depressants. The combination of those drugs with opioids is a major factor in so-called opioid overdoses.

Any or all of those could be happening, and if so, the end result would definitely be a reduction in overdose mortality. The point is we don't know for sure, but there is a chance that legal access to medical cannabis is in fact helping to reduce the incidence of opioid overdose deaths. If it does prove to be true, that's yet another reason to legalize cannabis.

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay with Common Sense for Drug Policy and Drug War Facts.


DEAN BECKER: I want to go ahead and pick up where we did actually make connections with Mr. Marc Emery.

Alright, Marc, we are having technical difficulties here. It is good to have you with us. You got back into Toronto, Canada a couple of weeks back.

MARC EMERY: I arrived in leg irons and handcuffs and a chain around my belly in Windsor, Ontario after a 12 hour trip from Louisiana. The shackles were taken off and I was shown a little door in the corner. I went through it and there were like 25 people from the media there and the smell of pot smoke on a brilliant sunlit day.

All of the sudden it was like entering a new part in life in a science fiction movie or ...it really did feel like it, like leaving one life completely and entering the next world in a big burst of fanfare.

Yes, it was very, very thrilling and exciting and surprising because I had been pent up in vehicles for 12 hours in handcuffs and leg irons, etc. I wasn’t in a particularly good mood so when I was being unshackled I was thinking, “Man, those things hurt and then there’s the door, right?” so I quickly forgot about that the second I got into Windsor.

We stayed there for a period of time. The next day we moved to Toronto. 43 interviews later we left there and came to Vancouver and I’ve had such a wonderful time since. Every moment has been awesome. I cannot tell you how pleasant it is to be back in the world again.

DEAN BECKER: I can only imagine, my friend. I’ve been following your posts. I waited a couple of weeks to try to contact you because you mentioned 43 interviews just there in Ontario.

MARC EMERY: Windsor and Toronto. Toronto is the center of the Canadian universe as it were. As it turns out some things that you thought were bad...of course I thought they should deliver me to Vancouver instead of dropping me off in Ontario 4,000 kilometers from my home but it turned out to be a really good thing because I got to go to Toronto and that’s where all the major media is so we were able to get a good start on my campaign that I’ve been planning for months.

I would like to call our election that we had in Canada for the federal government....we’re calling it Legalization Day because one of the political parties, the Liberal Party, wants to legalize pot and they’ve made it front and center on one of their platforms so we felt we should make sure all of our people get out to give that party a majority so that legalization absolutely does happen.

We were able to make that a national discussion for a couple of days and that was terrific because that really is our long and short-term goal to get that party elected next year while in the legal environment the provinces will be able to regulate and tax. We will have 13 different jurisdictions of Colorado I would think.

DEAN BECKER: That sounds like a wonderful plan, my friend.

MARC EMERY: It’s coming, Dean. It’s coming.

DEAN BECKER: Over the years I’ve tried to avoid the direct political involvement but it’s hard not to anymore. We have a situation here in Houston where for 7 years it’s been possible to not arrest anybody for under 4 ounces of weed and, yet, they have continued to do it – 100,000 times just in the city of Houston alone. They’ve chosen to use the old law.

But now both district attorney candidates are saying, “Why don’t we go ahead and make use of that law. It’s costing us 10 million dollars per year at minimum to continue making these arrests.”

MARC EMERY: Oh, wow.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. It’s changing everywhere isn’t it?

MARC EMERY: Yeah and fast, rapidly. The progress is happening at a speed never seen before for our movement. I have the perspective of someone who was not necessarily in the world but able to read news reports and extensive amount of magazines. We’ve gone past the tipping point really. We’re observing the tipping now but in the political universe nothing happens instantaneously. Things take time.

Every single measurable thing such as our movement is in ascendance and we are going to see more legal states. We are going to see more legal countries. We are going to see more discussion, more money being poured into it, more billions of dollars being invested, more medical marijuana science coming out positively. We are winning the political battles in the state house and in congress. Everything is moving our direction. It is just a matter of when but not a matter of if anymore.

These are all good signs and it’s happening on an international scale, too. I know from my speaking schedule coming up the interest in legalization and how we are going to make it happen is everywhere. I’m speaking in San Sabastian, Spain, in Barcelona at three universities, in Ireland, Scotland, London and onto Vienna, Budapest and Prague and even more later this year and next year.

The world is interested in legalizing marijuana so it’s just a matter of who is going to make the first move. Uruguay ultimately made the first move but it is only a nation of 4 million whereas we have 2 democracy candidates in the United States where the majority now want marijuana legalized so will the federal government follow the democratic custom and adapt to that and legalize.

I think the federal government of the United States will legalize by the year after Canada does. I think it is going to happen late next year after the election. There’s got to be a moratorium on marijuana arrests if Mr. Trudeau gets elected prime minister because his party calls for an immediate legalization for marijuana and, ultimately, to expunge everyone’s records which is what we have always wanted so that we can’t be used against us when we travel to the United States.

DEAN BECKER: Exactly. Last time I traveled up there to stay with you and Jodie they hassled me at the border saying I had an arrest some 40 years ago that was going to bar me from coming in. I asked if there was anything since then. They said, “No. OK, come in this time.”

I would love to have the opportunity to travel to Canada or other countries and to erase that record, that drug bust from a lifetime ago.

MARC EMERY: Fortunately it is just Canada and the US that do that. They don’t want each other’s felons. I am barred for life from entering the United States. That’s one of the two most sadden things about my experience because my experience overall is not sad. In fact I can’t say any point is sad but I regret having to cancel and close down Cannabis Culture printed magazine because I couldn’t afford to replace me as editor and publisher while I was gone so we had to close that down. Fortunately we were able to pay everybody off and that was good.

The other one is I can’t ever enter the United States to meet all the people who were so supportive of me in my time in prison. I got 6 and one-half thousand letters from Americans alone. That does not include the one American who sent me a letter every day for 4 years from Holland, Michigan. He didn’t know me. He is a 61-year-old on disability and he went to the library every day and photocopied all these cool articles, cartoons and put them in an envelope – every day for 4 years. He must have spent over $1,000 in postage.

I am not in any way soured on America or Americans. I still think great things can happen in America and are happening. They are certainly happening in our movement because people all over and some great groups like Marijuana Policy Project and NORML are really galvanizing people and getting things to happen. People feel things can happen now. They feel change is not only possible but...

Even in your own bailiwick...when I was in Louisiana I had a young man visit me. Anybody could basically show up and visit me. He visited me in late July and he was in the military and just got back from Afghanistan. He’s from Minnesota. He said Minnesota just passed a medical bill but it doesn’t allow people to use cannabis for PTSD. He said a lot of the guys coming back from Afghanistan could use it from the stress they have gone through and the trauma they’ve experienced.

He asked how he could get that done in Minnesota and I told him the first thing he wanted to do was realize that no one wants to cross veterans. No one wants to be mean to veterans so you get a sympathetic ear. You will soon find somebody on the relevant committee who will be willing to make an amendment to that legislation so at least veterans have access to using the PTSD designation to get medical marijuana clearance. I told him what my advice was. He said he may be getting out next year and he would start on that right away and see if he could make some friends and get that to happen.

So if you would have me on a scale like that which on one end it’s not a major thing to do - getting some legislation passed for the people of your state is great – but it is something that one individual could kick start and get done in almost any kind of legislature. Just find one sympathetic representatives and give them a very reasonable explanation of why this should happen – especially if it involves veterans.

Something can be done at every level – municipal, state, national, federal. It’s a great time to be an activist.

DEAN BECKER: It is indeed. We typically do a “Name that drug by its side effects.” That’s going to be our only break. We’ll be back in about 45 seconds.


(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Responsible for countless overdose deaths, uncounted diseases, international graft, greed and corruption, stilled science and events, unchristian moral postulations of fiction as fact.


Time’s up!

The answer: and this Drug is the United States’ immoral, improper, bigoted, unscientific and plain F-ing evil addiction to Drug War.

All approved by the FDA, absolved by that American Medical Association and persecuted by Congress and the cops and in abeyance to the needs of the bankers, the pharmaceutical houses and the international drug cartels.

$550 billion a year can be very addicting.


DEAN BECKER: Friends, once again, you are listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. We have with us, live, Mr. Marc Emery out of Vancouver, Canada.

Marc, I was going to ask you while you were in there did you get to see or hear about the situation with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the little kids with the gervais Syndrome, the epilepsy?

MARC EMERY: Oh, goodness gracious, of course. It was talked about extensively in the prison. I saw both of the episodes that he did - both of which were remarkable.

First of all it was something I’ve never seen before. He said, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. I once lent credibility to the ignorant propaganda and I feel bad about that and I’m going to do everything I can to make good.”

I thought, “What did I just hear?! What a stark, honest observation from at least a scientist.”

But the fact that he said, “I was wrong. I lent my credibility to the wrong side. I was swayed by propaganda. I was unscientific but now that I have been scientific and looked at the evidence I can only come to this conclusion. The conclusions are remarkable.”

Just to show you the power that guy has 4 states amended medical marijuana laws to allow children to get CBDs and cannabis in oil form. That was powerful because that’s had a very big influence on epilepsy victims in those states and probably all 50 states in no time at all.

It might be that Sanjay Gupta episode does more to legalize medical marijuana than anything else every done. By the way, Sanjay Gupta has a wonderful 1 minute 34 second animated video explaining how cannabis works. It is just terrific. It is trending right now. It is very contemporary and you can watch it endlessly. It is so educational and so beautifully done in 1 minute and 34 seconds.

DEAN BECKER: In the last week, maybe two, there has been several newspapers talking about 2 big stories. They are talking about through the use of cannabis they are finding less domestic violence, less violence in general and they are also finding that through the use of cannabis people are having fewer ODs and are using less of the hard drugs – the OxyContin and those type of pills - which should give people reason to reconsider don’t you think?

MARC EMERY: It’s a very compelling reason that we can never concede that marijuana shouldn’t be advertised. One of the things people say is that when we legalize we shouldn’t advertise. That’s something that needs to be amended in the legislation because if we can advertise marijuana I think it would be a tremendous public safety and public health benefit because our targets would be to draw them from psychiatric drugs, prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco and the myriad of far more harmful drugs.

You know one of the things I did in the media when I got home was I said, “I’m already up to my old tolerance. I can smoke 15 joints a day. In fact, I did smoke 15 joints today.”

My point with that wasn’t to boast that I could smoke a lot of pot because there was some criticism in the media about me saying that. My point was that you can’t have 15 of anything without being really, really sick - 15 beers and you are going to be sick, 15 shots and you are going to be dead, 15 cigarettes and you are going to be hacking, 15 Big Macs and you are going to be sick...15 anything and you are going to be sick but 15 joints and I’ve smoked them and you don’t know that I’ve smoked them because there is no apparent change in my superficial behavior – my behavior, my speech.

In other words, it’s got to be the safest substance on earth because there is not 15 of anything that you can ingest without severe consequences whether it’s food or plants or drugs or anything. 15 of anything is a lot and, yet, 15 joints has no negative repercussions and not any superficial change. Normally if you poison yourself you are going to notice when someone is badly effected by something - you are going to be sweating.

My point with that is that marijuana is one of the safest things and we shouldn’t be stigmatized. One of the other legalizer methods that I find irks them is when they say, “Well, it’s a vice so we have to control it to improve society.”

I hate thinking of marijuana as a vice. It is not a moral weakness. It’s not a vice. It is an intelligent euphoric that is full of enlightenment and beautiful things and I just don’t accept that it is bad for people. Therefore we shouldn’t be paying any kind of taxes. I guess we will. It’s a compromise we might have to make but I don’t feel we should be punished and stigmatized. It bothers me that some legalization arguments follow that path – usually not from people who smoke marijuana but people who want to have it legalized and don’t smoke marijuana. They think that is an appealing argument but in the long run I think it is not an appealing argument.

I think we should go full bore and declare that this is a healthful and good substance that can really only improve civilization and improve people’s well-being and, therefore, it is not a vice. It is not some kind of thing that shows moral weakness or that we in any way need to be afraid of.

DEAN BECKER: You were talking about how Sanjay Gupta kind of turned full circle. I belong to a group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Most of us were very staunch drug warriors while wearing the badge but we have all turned that 180 degrees and now call for the end of prohibition. It brings to mind that there was a US attorney who helped convict you and once he left office he came out for legalization?

MARC EMERY: There’s been many people. The mayor who was responsible for the police board when I got arrested 4 times, Philip Owen, said to me four times that I’d be toast. He turned around and became quite an effective champion for legalization.

The head of the drug squad here, Kash Heed, became a very good champion for legalization. My prosecutor in Seattle, John McKay, who was the district attorney when I was arrested. He was in charge of that and wrote the legislation that passed in 2012 and was, in fact, in press conferences with my wife, Jodie, in Washington State.

So, great irony. My life has these wonderful rich ironies and I enjoy that. I am glad people are coming in our direction. I’m happy to say that people who prosecuted me are now converts because that’s what it is all about, isn’t it?!

DEAN BECKER: That is what it is all about. You didn’t get a chance to hear it. I used Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watch Tower” as my intro. I was trying to introduce you and Jodie...

MARC EMERY: I learned to play that in jail. I learned a lot of Jimi Hendrix stuff but I certainly learned to play that.

DEAN BECKER: I heard you learned to play bass and got rather good at it.

MARC EMERY: Yep, 120 songs. It was a wonderful thing as I got extraordinarily lucky to hang out with some musicians who were just astonishing. I enjoyed listening to their classic rock songs. When they had a change in personnel and an opening showed up for a bassist rather than get somebody who could actually play they came to me and offered to teach me to be their bassist which turned out to be a wonderful thing for me. I went at it 3 hours per day and 6 weeks later I did my first concert. Just 8 songs but oddly enough one of them was “On the watch tower” which I learned to play properly over time.

That was a great thing for me in prison. They gave me a Fender Precision Jazz Bass the other day and that was awesome and I want to check that out tonight or soon. I will tell you, though, I am so busy – oh my goodness. I’m not even doing anything on social media. You are the first interview I’ve given on this iPhone. I don’t answer any emails and I don’t look at my Facebook yet I have to but I am still only spending one-half an hour per day. I have no incentive to do it whatsoever. I’m having so much fun with Jodie and enjoying being out in this beautiful weather in Vancouver. I am corrupted by sensual delights not found on iPhones and iPads and such.

DEAN BECKER: You deserve it. I’m glad to hear that and like I said I felt like I was intruding. I waited a couple of weeks. I saw a post by Jodie that said she was out by the lake with you and just enjoying things.

MARC EMERY: Oh, yes. We are having so much fun. We’ve gone to three beaches, a couple of parks. We try to drive around a little bit each day if we can. But everything is lots of fun like it is lots of fun going to work. It’s lots of fun campaigning out there for Jodie’s nomination for the Liberal Party that we’ve been talking about because everyone is so effusive that greets us. What’s not to like about that?! Everywhere you go you are a somebody and they treat you nice and special. I would love to ride that wave.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve got just a couple minutes left. What I guess you have done and I kind of pattern some of what I do after you to educate, embolden, to encourage, to motivate, to steer people towards doing something about this...

MARC EMERY: I heard your 45 seconds – it’s quite a mouthful but it is very interesting. You know what?! It is all true but it’s also good on the stinging side, on the bitter side and so the challenge is to remain optimistic and positive while realizing we have an adversary that does very bad things. It’s important not to make it look like inevitability that things are bad. In fact not only is it an inevitability that we will come together and make things better but it is fun to do so and that’s how you got to look at it.

DEAN BECKER: That thing was probably made five years ago when things were a little more desperate...

MARC EMERY: When things were more bleak looking. I think we are on the crest of some wonderful stuff. We are going to see a real explosion of marijuana science and marijuana business and marijuana technology. There is going to be so much R&D going into cannabis. We are approaching the golden age. If you thought the past had its good points the future is going to be remarkable in the next ten, twenty years for cannabis research, cannabis industries, cannabis growing, cannabis genetics, all of it.

DEAN BECKER: I had a couple of other segments that I am going to be using this coming week that deal with that – reports coming out of Great Britain and Canada and the US and parents talking about the benefits derived from the use of cannabis for their 2-year-old, their 11-year-old, etc...

MARC EMERY: And Sanjay Gupta (the man who would have been the Surgeon General but turned it down) saying marijuana is good for children! You check that latest animated video out and “it’s good for children...it’s best for children.”

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, first option, I would think, yeah.

Marc, be sure to tell Jodie I said hi. She was a student and knowledgeable person before you went to prison but, by gosh, she’s shot up another level.

MARC EMERY: She got way better. She’s also different than me so I’ve enjoyed these opportunities where we are both on television and I do my thing which is kind of playful, irreverent and then she comes on and she is so serious and slick and so on message that it makes me feel sort of like a buffoon throwing in tangents here and there and wheeling around to the message. She never leaves message. She is dead serious. She is slick and I even felt like I was a bit out of date there because she was so practiced.

She got really good and that was one of the things that I had hoped for when I was getting sent away was that Jodie would emerge out of my shadow and show everyone what she could really do. That way when I came back we would be a formable couple not just Jodie being my secretary - which she does now as well as all of her own stuff, too.

That’s the irony of me coming home – her workload doubled and mine is nothing so she got ripped off totally, really but she is having so much fun she doesn’t know it yet.

DEAN BECKER: Real quick share a website with the listeners.

MARC EMERY: My website is http://cannabisculture.com and I’m on Facebook and you can “friend” me. It might take me awhile to get to it as I am slowly integrating myself back into all of those wonderful things. That’s helped catapult our movement into where it is today.

DEAN BECKER: Marc, we got to go. Thank you, sir.


DEAN BECKER: As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.


DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org