Self-Styled 'Prince Of Pot' Manages To Stay Out Of Jail

In the world of pot in British Columbia, Marc Emery is the equivalent of
giant corporation.

As the revered leader of the province's marijuana movement, Emery not only
promotes pot, but makes millions at it -- all the while managing to stay
out of jail.

The 44-year-old London, Ont., native, a daily toker, surrounds himself with
pot. He says he can smoke 25 joints in a day.

And like any corporate citizen, he gives to charity -- especially when the
cause is one that's close to his heart.

It was with Emery's help that the British Columbia Compassion Club Society
got off the ground.

Its annual budget is $1.7 million and 70 per cent of that is used to buy
pot from about 20 small growers for a membership of 1,800 tokers.

All of those members take marijuana for medical use, and have the doctors'
notes to prove it.

There are four Compassion Clubs in British Columbia, with a second office
slated to open in Vancouver by late spring.

"We are here to provide a service. We are not a capitalist organization. We
are not here to profit off every gram that goes out the door," said Hilary
Black, 26, founder and director of Vancouver's Compassion Club.

Posted on a wall in the club is the marijuana menu.

Prices range from $7 to $10 per gram and the top buys of the day include
names such as Holland's Hope, Awesome Indica and Time Warp.

Clients can also buy oatmeal cookies made with pot and Vegan Choco Ganja Cake.

Most clients are HIV-positive or addicts trying to get off crack or heroin.
About 100 of them are mail-order members, including a 10-year-old Montreal
boy with epilepsy.

Black says the club's smokers come from all socio-economic classes.

Check the rear lounge where members can smoke joints, she says, and you
might see a "little old lady, who's on chemotherapy fighting breast cancer
from the west side with her Chanel bag and $300 pumps, sitting next to
someone with tattoos."

Approaching its five-year anniversary, the Vancouver Compassion Club has a
two-month waiting list for new members.

Its services have grown to include a wellness centre next door where
members can pay $3 to see counsellors, herbalists, a nutritionist and a
doctor of acupuncture.

Although the organization and its activities are illegal, the Compassion
Club is tolerated and often hailed as the best alternative for addicts
trying to get off hard drugs.

Black said Vancouver police quietly support the club and have recommended
it to some street addicts.

"The Vancouver police understand that we are part of the solution, not the
problem," she said.

"We have bigger social issues to spend our resources on rather than
prosecuting people for pot use."

When it comes to Marc Emery, however, police aren't quite so tolerant. He's
a pest they would like to be rid of.

But to the thousands who have made his company a profitable
$3-million-a-year business, Emery is an idol.

The self-described "prince of pot" is a marijuana mogul who employs about
40 people in a variety of ventures that include a daily Internet television
show called POT-TV, a Cannabis Culture magazine, a pot paraphernalia store
and the B.C. Marijuana Party.

But the heart that keeps the cash pumping through all of Emery's projects
is his mail-order company, Marc Emery Direct Marijuana Seed.

Each week, it fills more than 500 orders, with three-quarters of them going
to buyers in the United States.

Emery's office is in his home, a highrise waterfront condominium with a
spectacular view of Vancouver's tourist highlights -- Stanley Park, Coal
Harbour and the Lions Gate Bridge.

The office has piles of paper, seed catalogues and Canada Post express
boxes, but no seeds and no money. That's all somewhere else, away from the
prying eyes of the police.

After all, Emery has been raided four times and arrested 10.

The most recent raid took place last month at his second home in Victoria,
where police arrived with a search warrant for a marijuana grow operation.

Emery says he gave away more than $600,000 last year to people trying to
fight marijuana charges in court. He declared $300,000 in income and paid
$138,000 in taxes.

Emery claims that the police themselves are the biggest pot profiteers,
expanding their police budgets to fight the war on drugs.

"Why is that every day police commit violence against homeowners?

"Police are trashing our constitutional rights," he says while smoking a
huge Jamaican-sized joint in his living room.

Pubdate: Sat, 13 Apr 2002
Source: Kitchener-Waterloo Record (CN ON)
Copyright: 2002 Kitchener-Waterloo Record