Sunday, January 18, 2004


I'm learning about the Canadian political system as I go, and it appears I have to eat my words. I recently publicly expressed reservations about the merger of Marc Emery's Marijuana Party with the long established and politically entrenched New Democratic Party in Canada.

Marc's confidence in NDP leader Jack Layton appears to be well-founded. I didn't think I would live to see an honest politician but Layton is walking his talk and honoring his commitment to Canadian cannabis consumers.

Layton appeared on Internet network's Pot-TV and agreed to Emery's, the Marijuana Party's and the cannabis community's peace terms in the War on Drugs.

Layton went further than just joking about inhaling or eating pot brownies. He outright appealed to the stoner community by promising cafes, personal grow-ops, no jail time, no fines, or harassment by The Man for grass if he was elected prime minister. Layton spoke about legalization of marijuana. This is the furthest any reputable candidate in Canada has ever dared to go.

It's a far cry from what current Prime Minister Paul Martin is offering up.

Compare this to the Liberal's so-called decrim bill that heavily fines possessors, slams growers and dealers with double the current sentencing terms along with forcing judges to hand out mandatory minimums. The Liberals are truly wagging the dog with this piece of legislation that was cooked up in Washington.

I wouldn't pop the champagne corks on this just yet though, Layton is apparently something of a visionary within the NDP. The old-timers are not necessarily on board.

The party hasn't dealt completely with their leader's views on grass and currently they don't have the platform he outlined in their election plank...

Emery seems unconcerned by this.

Emery admits, Jack Layton's comments took them all by surprise. He's a smart leader. He has dared the party to contradict him in public, which they won't do. They know that statement is the future. That's where the votes are. They know the young disenfranchised... are the people that they need to bring on in to add strength to their other issues.

Emery is also a smart leader and a brilliant businessman having built his own (legal) empire around the cannabis culture. One hopes his confidence in the NDP faithful is not misplaced. I still have some lingering doubts they can pull this merger off however, based on this evidence.

The Prince of Pot has wanted to give the NDP oodles of cash to continue to promote the pro-marijuana message. The only problem is that the NDP have turned down his offers. "They are the only person or group that has turned down my money," he says. "The NDP head office wouldn't take my money. I offered them $5,000 with more to come, but they wouldn't take it. They didn't think it would look right."

....Emery's cash is completely legit.

"I pay shockingly high income tax [about $12,000 a month]. I can give to political organizations. I told them, "You know I pay more in taxes than anyone who has given you money this year. I assure you. This money is totally clean. I pay taxes on every dime I give you." But they wouldn't take the money. It must be nice. I've never met a political organization that has turned down money. We must still make them nervous."

Residual skepticism aside, my money is on the indefatigable Emery being able to successfully woo the party regulars and pull this odd marriage off.

Emery's efforts to inspire the youth vote and instruct them on the process is also to be applauded. Marc is a man who thinks on his feet and doesn't waste any time musing over his defeats.

With the litigation strategy handed a 6–3 loss at the Supreme Court the only way Mary Jane is going to be as legal as alcohol is by electing the NDP. Emery says, “We went to the courts and they’re pretty much done. So now we’re re–doubling our efforts in the political realm. In the long–term it might prove to be more fruitful to have political allies. Now that we’ve been told by the courts that politics is our only avenue, then politics it is.”

Marc's personal charisma may provide much of the momentum for his success, but nonetheless he presents a good model for activism that I think could work here. Read the whole article.


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