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Jodie Emery waxes on toking with Trudeau

By Sean Fitzgerald, 24 Hrs

Jodie Emery (Supplied)

Jodie Emery (Supplied)

Canada’s “Princess of Pot” is glad that we finally have a new prime minister. But long-time marijuana activist Jodie Emery knows that Justin Trudeau’s plan to legalize cannabis could go up in flames.

“Everybody’s in favour of legalizing it,” Emery tells 24 Hours. “Now, it’s about how. And when you talk about how, that’s very different.”

The new government would be wise to consult with the cannabis advocate and her husband, Marc.

The couple run the Cannabis Culture head shops, vapour lounges and an online magazine out of Vancouver. They’ve been able to put a stronger focus on the business in the last year – ever since Marc returned from prison in the U.S., where he served a five-year sentence for selling cannabis seeds.

But when Jodie was rejected by the federal Liberal party for trying to run as a candidate earlier this year, many wondered if Trudeau would forge ahead without the Emerys in his quest to legalize marijuana.

Q: What’s the best way to move forward with marijuana legalization in Canada?

Jodie Emery: Legalization can take many different forms, similar to how alcohol is legal but every city and province can deal with it as they see fit. So, with marijuana being legal, that basically means any sort of model is possible. It could be a very restrictive type of system, similar to Washington State perhaps, where they have a government-controlled system. They don’t allow people to grow their own, and there are different restrictions on driving. Whereas in Colorado, which is a far more successful version, they’ve allowed a real free market to exist, where people are allowed to open up their own retails stores. It’s not government-controlled. And people are also allowed to grow up to six plants of their own personal supply. For me as an activist, and for many people within the activism movement, the right to grow our own is very much a sticking point.

Q: Do you have any predictions about what Justin Trudeau’s government might do?

We know that the Liberals have been actively educating themselves on this file. But which form they’re going to go with, which model, I’m not sure. My one main concern is that they don’t want to be seen as the “pot party”, and so they might want to go with a more restrictive sort of legalization system – just to appease the people who are worried, and the cops and health professionals who are still on the fence. But if you really want to look at the science, and the polls of support amongst the people, clearly, full legalization is desired, and marijuana is far safer than alcohol and prescription pills and a lot of substances that are readily available.

Q: What would be your ideal situation, in terms of legalization?

I’m hoping for a truly free market, where you can grow your own, medically, from a licensed provider who has a sterile environment and medical-grade testing, or you could go to a commercial outlet that sells a whole lot of pot of commercial-grade, or you could go to something similar to a craft brewery or a boutique coffee shop, where it’s a limited selection of fine high-grade products. So ideally, I’d like a free market. But it’s possible, as with all government, that excessive regulation and taxation might be involved in whatever system they implement. So, my job is to try and work against that.

Q: What’s your husband Marc up to these days? Is he writing a book?

Not yet, but I keep bugging him to write a book! He’s just been so busy. He’s managing our store, so it’s an interesting time for us. Now that he’s home (from prison), we’re running our stores, head shops, vapour lounges and online media. We’re just trying to remain cutting-edge.

Q: Have you heard the news that Toronto City Council has outlawed hookah lounges?

Yeah, I saw Toronto voted to ban them, which is terrible. Vancouver did the same thing. And it’s really unfair… I think it’s wrong for governments to stop businesses from operating when everyone involved in those businesses are doing so with consent. And what bothers me about the hookah lounges is it’s not really even smoke in most cases; it’s not nicotine or tobacco. It’s just herbal shisha being vaporized, really.

Q: Once marijuana becomes legal, do you think you’ll get the chance to hang out with Justin Trudeau and roll up a joint?

I sure hope so! I would love to toke with Trudeau. (laughs)