Jodie Emery on running Prince of Pot's Cannabis Culture empire
Jodie Emery on Marc's GED, the Brown Recluse spider bite he received in a Georgia prison and his taking up bass guitar. VO's interview with the woman who has become head of the high profile marijuana activists' Cannabis Culture empire.
While she tells me about Marc and what it’s like to have a partner in prison, I’m struck by how young and beautiful she is. With raven hair and a slender, almost too slender, frame she would look frail if it weren't for her selection of a tailored white dress that one might recognize from a photo of Jackie O. She’s conscious of her image, presenting herself as a woman who knows she’s being watched. She understands the importance of image management, after all, "just like you learn in school, you have to present yourself well for people to take you seriously," she tells me.
With her cell phone tucked away in her purse and out of arms reach she is completely present when we speak. She leans forward to listen to my questions, and never asks to me to repeat them. She maintains an intense level of eye contact that is refreshing and flattering in a world of intimate dinnertime conversations often interrupted by text messages and tweets. She hardly stumbles over a word and even her tone is orchestrated to reveal exactly the emotions she wishes to convey.
The sentiment that Marc absorbs much of her time and energy is one that resonates throughout the interview. Since his imprisonment she's taken responsibility for managing the payroll of Cannabis Culture’s 20 employees as well as keeping Marc's supporters up-to-date on his life and condition.
"I do a weekly video show which reaches out to people and I'm on Facebook a lot and Twitter and I communicate with media that way. But now I have to run all this and deal with people; manage emotions and everybody. You know, there's a lot going on so that's what's been keeping me busy nonstop," she says.
Cannabis Culture magazine is the same one Jodie so revered in her senior high school years. Today she’s a co-editor. The publication's website describes it as an activist magazine, "each issue of is packed full of marijuana and drug war news, amazing grow stories, political and historical information, and spectacular photography from the top cannabis photographers. From fabulous budshots and cultivation advice to cutting-edge pot culture and the drug war journalism."
Founded in 1994 the magazine was initially a newsletter printed on hemp paper and was both edited and published by Marc. Regardless of his incarceration, the Cannabis Culture website still lists Marc as the magazine’s publisher and editor in chief. The site also functions as the home of Marc's blog from prison. The same magazine that informed those who inspired Jodie to embrace pot culture in high school continues to guide and serve as an outlet for her own political and social development.
Jodie counts herself among those who are able to discuss foreign and domestic policy with insight. When discussing today's political landscape she is firm and resolute critic of the Harper administration. She expresses fear that the Harper government is on track to replicate Bush-era policies and cites recent military and prison expansion along with harsher drug and crime laws as her key issues of concern. She even has her own political aspirations. In 2009 she ran an unsuccessful campaign for provincial office with the BC Green Party. But she’s not finished pursuing a career in politics.
The conversation turns to civic politics. There’s a rumour around town she might run for office in Vancouver. On that topic, she stumbles a bit, giggling nervously when I ask if an upcoming meeting with an unnamed local political figure will result in an opportunity to run.
"Even if I got asked to run that'd be something I'd have to really consider. I don't know. It depends on what's being offered and what kind of help I could get, because a lot of people seem to think that if I were to run for them, the BC green party had hoped that I'd bring a bunch of money, supporters, volunteers but really it doesn't quite work that way."
When I ask how she copes personally with the stress and pain of having her husband in a foreign prison she is quick to cite messages of love and support from Marc's supporters and inner circle. Her response is worded so as not to seem ungrateful to the support both financial and otherwise those supporters, who donate funds for her to visit him every other weekend. Her response isn’t so much disingenuous as it is practiced, refined.
She maintains a strong front, but doesn't speak of any personal support from a close set of girlfriends or an occasional release through a run around the seawall, a box of chocolates or creative writing as one might expect from someone in a similar situation.