Are Marc and Jodie Emery bad for the weed movement? -

Are Marc and Jodie Emery bad for the weed movement?

With legalization imminent, pot’s reigning power couple looks more and more like a liability

Marc Emery and his wife, Jodie, speak to journalists outside a Toronto court after being released on bail on Friday, March 10, 2017. Marc Emery faces 15 charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie Emery faces five similar counts. (Chris Young/CP)

The Emerys on March 10, after Marc is released on bail. He faces 15 charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie faces five similar counts. (Chris Young/CP)

“I’d still like to be the Starbucks of weed,” says Jodie Emery, fresh from her first strip-search jail stint. After an arrest in Toronto, she’s back in Vancouver, sipping a latte inside a busy West Hastings Street cafe. Across the street is her grungy Cannabis Culture headquarters. Which, because of certain Ontario court bail conditions laid down in March, she cannot visit.

She clings to her dream of building a retail network into “the most recognized brand in retail storefronts and lounges.” A string of Cannabis Culture franchises across Canada. Shelves filled with top-notch pot. Smoking lounges. Special appearances with herself, the photogenic, friendly face behind the family brand. Free dab hits courtesy of her husband, the irascible Marc (a dab, for the uninitiated, is a highly concentrated form of cannabis, usually smoked directly from a hot surface or flame).

The couple had seemed on their way, meeting goals on their own terms, outside the law. They found business partners and opened 15 Cannabis Culture “dispensaries” in a handful of cities. The Emerys eschewed buy-in fees from their franchisees—they had contemplated charging $25,000 up front—instead charging six or seven per cent of gross sales. Anyone aged 19 years or older could buy their weed, and many did.

That was until police—in Montreal, just before Christmas, and then in Toronto and Hamilton—got all police-like and raided Cannabis Culture shops in those cities. Three franchises in laissez-faire Vancouver were left untouched and are still open.

Marc and Jodie were last arrested March 8 at Pearson International Airport. They were charged with a variety of criminal offences related to marijuana, including trafficking. Marc remains in Toronto with bail conditions, while Jodie was allowed to return to her home in Vancouver. Their first court appearance in Toronto is scheduled in April. For his part, Marc suggests he’s done with retail pot—at least directly. “We’ll ultimately work with some company, lending our likeness to some kind of enterprise,” he says from Toronto. Will he try to get back into sales? “Goodness no.”

READ MORE: Jodie Emery on her shocking arrest—and two nights in jail

Jodie isn’t on the same page. “I have only ever known my Cannabis Culture business, and I don’t want to give up on the dream that I was building out. [But] I only intend to work in the cannabis distribution or retail industry legally,” she says.

She’s been approached by a Vancouver-area company that owns a federal medical marijuana production licence (a “licensed producer,” or LP). The company tried recruiting her with some sort of role if she would quit criticizing its business. She says she just laughed.

They are by no means contrite. They remain outspoken. But if the Emerys are true to their word and they stay away from illicit, unregulated marijuana sales, they may do the pro-pot movement a big favour. Because they weren’t helping anymore.

Legal, recreational marijuana sales and consumption are coming to Canada. The Trudeau government reportedly plans to introduce pro-pot legislation this month. It expects a regulatory framework to be in place by the middle of next year, with large-scale LPs getting the green light on legal production. Retail operations will be regulated and controlled as individual provinces see fit.

Corporate weed is very buttoned-down. It’s no place for free-for-all advocates like the Emerys, who are off in their own world. Despite evidence the drug can cause harm, especially to children and young adults, the couple insists marijuana is a cure-all, a simple plant that people can consume as a kind of supplement and “stress preventer.”

Tell that to residents in Vancouver’s crowded West End, where, for the second consecutive year, they’ll have to contend with pot vendors and tens of thousands of enthusiasts who will clog a neighbourhood beach and park—where smoking is banned by city fiat—for “4/20” celebrations, the annual April 20 toke-fest. Jodie has helped organize past events and supports this year’s celebrations.

RELATED: Legalizing weed: how Uruguay tripped up

Last year’s unsanctioned event grew so large and upset enough residents that Vancouver’s lone Green party city councillor suggested future smoke-ups be moved to a more appropriate location, such as an asphalt parking lot in nearby False Creek. But a majority on council decided in late March to defer any decision for another year, raising questions about who really calls the shots in Vansterdam.

Jodie says folks should just chill; 4/20 is just one day of hassle. And besides, a marijuana binge won’t hurt anyone. She sticks to her claim that today’s powerful Frankenweed is “safer than water,” because, after all, “people can die from drinking too much water.”

Marc says things, too. In 2009, he claimed to have smoked marijuana “five or six times” with Justin Trudeau, including one occasion after the politician was elected to Parliament. Four years later, Marc acknowledged he’d made that up, and apologized for his “clear misrepresentation.”

By then, Trudeau had become leader of the federal Liberal party. Jodie, meanwhile, was hoping to secure a Liberal nomination for a Vancouver riding ahead of the 2015 federal election. The party brass rejected her nomination papers and, though no explanation was given, the reason seemed clear enough: the Emerys had burned bridges.

Marc Emery, who owns the Cannabis Culture brand with his wife Jodie, right, gestures at the opening of one of their pot stores Thursday, December 15, 2016, in Montreal. Prominent marijuana activists Marc and Jodie Emery have been arrested in Toronto. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson


They don’t pretend to like the Liberals anymore. Marc now finds common cause with Conservative leadership candidate Maxime Bernier, considered by some to be his party’s libertarian flag-bearer. “Max is a very market-oriented person—a principled and fine gentleman whose every policy is based on individual liberty,” he explains.

When he reaffirmed his commitment to Bernier after his Toronto arrest in March, tweeting a photo of himself and the candidate in a friendly embrace, some of Marc’s followers tweeted back in disgust. To wit: “Jesus Mark [sic], are you nuts?”

RELATED: Is Canada ready to deal with stoned drivers?

No, not nuts, says Jodie. He just goes wherever he wants. Goes for broke, sometimes. “Marc has decades of business experience and activism behind him, so he’s used to losing everything and then gaining it all back again,” his wife says. He spent more than four years in a U.S. prison for selling cannabis seeds by mail, and look at him now.

Yes, now. Criminally charged again, on bail. And here’s the stupid irony: after Marc’s release from U.S. prison in 2014, the Emerys said they would not get into illicit weed sales. “But we were struggling. We had no money, no property,” Jodie recalls. So they started up their first dispensary, in Vancouver, and then another, and then a whole bunch more. “Money, jobs and activism,” says Jodie. “We thought: who deserves this more than us, anyway?”

Interesting question. A few minutes later, she says she “didn’t get into this business for financial gain,” adding, “I’m not in this to run a big empire.” So who knows.


Are Marc and Jodie Emery bad for the weed movement?

  1. Anyone caught selling Pot(or any Drugs not legal) in the grey market or black, should be shut down and locked up, for breaking the law, and especially these two(Mark&Jody), they should know the difference(boneheads). These two just want to flaunt it, and i hate people who try to flaunt and taunt the law. These people are trying to control a market they know they will never have access to when it becomes legal, until then Mark and Jody, abide by the laws of this country, or be treated like every other criminal who breaks the law. ‘Lock Em Up’, you broke the law. I have ZERO credibility with these two, they should be banned from ever having access to selling pot ever again. You make people who try to abide by the law look bad, like licensed legal producers, get in line like the rest.

    • Until its made Legal, its still Illegal. If the Government are going to legalize Pot, get it right, no matter how long it takes, but before the next election..

    • The difference between legal grower manufacturers and flaunt and taunt sellers like Mark and Jody, they push it, while legal grower produce and sell it. Producers manufactures are under strict laws and pesticide controls, who knows if this grey market Pot is even grown under the same conditions as legal growers. So for all i know, Mark and Jody could be selling pot full of illegal pesticides and no place of origin, only stupid boutique names that go back to the Woodstock Days. Time to modernize the market, i don’t want my Pot full of unregulated pesticides and some outback woods growing conditions.

    • “I have ZERO credibility with these two”

      I think you have zero credibility with everyone. It might help if you spelled Marc and Jodie correctly. Doing a little research on licensed producers using prohibited pesticides wouldn’t hurt either.

  2. So you’re saying that cannabis is not a “stress preventer,” as asserted by Marc Emery, because some residents of Vancouver get stressed out over the 4/20 celebration/demonstration? Seriously?

  3. Are Marc and Jodie Emery bad for the cannabis legalization movement?

    Marc = yes. He says too many things that sound like a baked teenager who worshios TV and movie stoners.

    Jodie = no. She’s very credible except for her connection to her big mouthed husband.

    • Make that ‘worships’.

  4. When come to those that have done the most and have been wronged by bad laws they should go to the head of the line.

  5. What kind of BS Legal system finds you guilty before trial. This all about money and power and they fear a power couple and Jodie is very electable.

  6. The Emerys appear to have followed The Grateful Dead way too long!!

  7. What a horrible article the author knows nothing about cannabis let alone dabs FYI you don’t use a flame to smoke dabs! I can’t seem to see any mention of the taxes that the government has collected from Marc and his wife! Seems to me this is nothing more than a poorly written hit piece with very little or no research what so ever! Finally I would submit that they have done a whole lot more than this horrible author of this article! At the very least offer your readers a fair and balanced article! Not some dribble from a useless author with no knowledge of the topic!

  8. Did I stumble on to What’s with the right ring talking points, Mcleans…?

    If it wasn’t for Marc Emery, there would be no Pro-Pot Movement. Even though the Le Dain Commission recommended legalization in 1972, it was… for the longest time… illegal to even publish literature advocating for that goal. Marc Emery worked hard to change that. In 2001, he performed the public service of the Summer of Legalization Tour… publicizing the fact that the Senate had recommended immediate Cannabis legalization, to anyone 16 years of age and older… and that the Supreme Court had struck down all cannabis prohibition laws, as unconstitutional.

    Cannabis prohibition is illegitimate. It is a great, antisocial, evil… designed to target minorities, the poor, and the vulnerable.

    Trudeau is a public servant. And I won’t bow my head and bend my knee, and murmur, “As you wish…” while he dithers, and dissembles. He has demonstrated that he is a lazy, entitled, gadabout, unwilling to do a thing for his People. He ran on a platform of “Vote for me… my dad was famous, once… oh, and I’ll make weed legal, finally.” I don’t care who Justin’s father was. I care if Justin keeps his promises. And, in that, he seems like any other garden variety low-rent politician: he keeps his promises to his donors.

  9. Only person bad for the weed movement is Trudeau

  10. Whether Marc and Jodie Emery are bad for the weed movement is open to question.
    What is certain, however, is that they are good for the bowel movement.

  11. The Emeries business success comes about from them flaunting the laws of Canada. Once weed gets legalized they will move ahead and flaunt other laws as they can not compete against other businesses. They have to be on the fringe which means they will probably start selling edible candies laced with THC to teenagers which is right up their alley.