Jodie Emery is one of the more prominent and hardworking individuals in the Canadian cannabis reform movement. Her impact tends to ripple through the U.S., where she’s become increasingly well-known and respected among activists.
In addition to being the sitting Editor-in-Chief for Cannabis Culture, a popular magazine and website, Jodie is currently running for office as a Green Party candidate, and spends her time traveling the between the U.S. and Canada, speaking on the need to end this ridiculous prohibition.
Recently we had the opportunity to speak with Jodie, to ask here a few questions.
- Recently you’ve been campaigning in Canada as a Green Party candidate. Can you explain your candidacy a bit, including what it is you’re running for?
I am running in the British Columbia provincial election, which is similar to a U.S. state election. I’m the BC Green Party candidate for Vancouver-West End, a constituency that includes most of the downtown Vancouver area. I’ve run with the BC Green Party before, in 2009, because the party supports ending cannabis prohibition. My website for the election will be updated more often as the May 14th election draws near, but you can see it so far, and my 2009 election campaign archive, by going to www.JodieForMLA.ca
- Besides cannabis law reform, what are some of your political platforms, A.K.A. issues that are important to you?
My passion is for civil rights and liberty, and I’m an advocate for more accountable, transparent government. I believe smaller government is better government. Freedom and honesty are essential in society, but citizens most often get very little of either from our governments. I’m very staunchly anti-war, and oppose violence of any kind and for any reason. The unjust justice system needs reform immediately, and I speak out against imprisonment and punishment-focused policies. The massive government-sponsored policing, prisons and war industries are unaffordable, in both the unsustainable financial cost to taxpayers and the countless lives lost and ruined.
- You’ve been working (correct me if I’m wrong please) with Sensible B.C., which is attempting to decriminalize cannabis in British Colombia. Can you explain this effort a bit?
Sensible BC is a referendum campaign in our province, which requires signature gathering for three months this year (September through November), and if we get 10% of all voters in every riding to sign, we will have a provincial vote on the Sensible Policing Act in 2014. We cannot change the drug laws on a provincial level, but we are able to determine our policing priorities in the province, so the Sensible Policing Act would remove all funding and resources used in marijuana possession cases. That means the police wouldn’t be allowed to bother anyone for possession of pot. That’s the best we can realistically do in our province with respect to marijuana law enforcement, because drug laws have to be changed on a federal level and police are still mandated to go after federal drug law violators. Simple possession of cannabis can be ignored by police, though, which is a sort of decriminalization. Find out more about Sensible BC at www.SensibleBC.ca
- For those in Canada, what is the best way for people to get involved in making cannabis legal?
We need to get politicians on our side, because only they can change the laws that make cannabis illegal. Joining political parties and working to push forward party policies makes a difference, and we’re seeing a lot of interest and support from the Liberal Party of Canada and their new legalization policy. The Green Party of Canada also supports legalization, but it’s smart to get involved in every party to influence their stance on cannabis. Donate time and money to politicians who support our cause! Writing letters to newspapers and calling in to radio stations about crime and cannabis news stories is a way to take a little time and reach a lot of people. Taking action through holding educational events, community gatherings, rallies, protests, and other functions is useful too.
- Being an activist working towards legalization for multiple years, what have you found is the most influential tactic, argument, etc., to get people to understand the need for reform?
Remind people that laws and government should never hurt people who don’t hurt others. Locking people up for a peaceful activity is expensive, ineffective, immoral and unjust. It’s always wrong to punish people for a personal choice that doesn’t harm anyone. But even if cannabis caused harm to people, making it illegal doesn’t help anyone and it doesn’t get rid of marijuana. It simply makes it valuable for gangs and criminals to sell, and costs taxpayers billions of dollars in law enforcement, prisons, and endless criminal justice proceedings. Prohibition of alcohol made gangsters rich and caused a lot of violence, and prohibition of cannabis and drugs is doing the same thing again. It’s unaffordable and we should be helping people who have problems with any substance or activity, not harming and imprisoning them.
- How did you get involved in the movement of legalizing cannabis?
I was inspired by Marc Emery, through being shown Cannabis Culture Magazine and Pot TV by my friends when I was in grade 10, in 2000. I moved to Vancouver in 2004 and started being an activist with Marc’s organization, writing letters to newspapers and attending protests and rallies. I became assistant editor of Cannabis Culture in early 2005, and then co-editor with Marc soon after that. I manage Cannabis Culture magazine, Pot TV, Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters store and the BCMP Vapour Lounge. I’m often sought out for interviews and speaking engagements, so I am often referred to as a spokesperson for cannabis legalization, ending prohibition, and promoting peace and liberty.
We would like to thank Mrs. Emery for taking the time to speak with us!