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.
Her support, it seems, comes from the cannabis community. "The cannabis culture, some people would see it as a bunch of hippies, but you also find a lot of seniors who use medical marijuana, you find lawyers and doctors. It's actually a lot of different people," she tells me. "It's all inclusive and that's what's so wonderful about it is that it doesn't matter what race you are, what religion you are, how old you are; you get a bunch of pot smokers from all over the world together and they'll pass that joint around and there won't ever be any problems.”
There’s an abundance of moral support, gestures of love and gratitude for Marc and his cause, but there’s financial backing too. Jodie speaks of Marc's past donations of millions of dollars to others. She says that’s why he just happens to be the fortunate recipient of the same generosity.
While she withholds from candidly discussing her own experience with hardship she has no reservations of speaking at length and in detail of Marc's circumstances. She detail's Marc's time in prison as an opportunity for him, albeit an unfortunate one, to expand his own horizons. He's taken to reading, even obtained his high school diploma, something he never needed as a young entrepreneur. He's also learning the bass guitar and performs in a band with fellow inmates called Stuck; they had their first performance over the July 4 weekend.
She recounts with pride how impassioned he is with the guitar, and with relief when discussing his ability to communicate with her. The two are able to message each other back and forth all day through CorrLinks, a two-way message system that allows inmates to communicate with a pre-approved list of loved ones.
Jodie doesn’t list all of the people Marc contacts, but she says he does talk with her mother.
"It costs money, but to be able to send messages back and forth is so meaningful. Thank god for CorrLinks.”
Jodie and Marc also speak on the phone each day. Since federal inmates are only allotted 300 minutes a month the couple only gets to speak for 10 minutes a day. It's a small amount but it's better than nothing, she says.
Jodie makes a point of conveying Marc’s difficulties. His time in prison has been far from a relaxing vacation during which he gets to read and play music all day, she says. He spent three weeks in solitary confinement in a prison in Seattle because, as Jodie says, she broadcasted over the internet a phone conversation she had recorder with him, and has since been in a private prison in Georgia and is now in a federal prison in Mississippi.
While he was still in Georgia Marc was bitten by a Brown Recluse Spider. "Those are one of the only two toxic spiders that can kill or seriously injure people," she says. The spider bite is also believed to be responsible for further health complications. "It was a big gaping wound and we believe from that he may have gotten MRSA. He had a boil also on his butt which a lot of prisoners get, and people in WWII use to get it too because when you're sitting in a jeep or something or on a hard surface it aggravates it and so he had a boil and that's what they tested and they cultured it and it came back positive for MRSA so I cried about that when he told me on our visit," she says.
Despite the circumstances both Marc and Jodie have found inspiration in their experience. She speaks emotionally when she recounts her experience observing children who visit their fathers in prison. "These kids that are going through the horrible process of getting through the prison security process. It's just it's so tragic and you see these fathers who are reaching out to their kids and the kids don't even recognize them and then these inmates are told that 70 per cent of prisoners’ children are going to go to prison at some point in their life. That is sick and it's wrong,” she says.
She tells me it’s one of the reasons she’s involved in advocacy politics. "People are being hurt who haven't hurt anyone and the injustice of imprisoning people and destroying their lives is too great to ignore. So for me it's not, you know, I love hemp I love medical marijuana, I love that there's so much more about cannabis that we're fighting for. But for me the base reason is because people who aren't hurting others are being hurt by the government and the state and that's wrong no matter what it's about," she says, self conscious of the intensity and emotion in her voice. As she speaks she giggles and laughs uncomfortably then takes a deep breath and sighs.
When I ask what the couple has planned once Marc is released Jodie is excited by their plan to escape to Tofino for a week of vacation, but only after a week of press. There's also a book in the works that Marc is writing about his experience and that Jodie is editing. "He's been writing chapters, not as much lately, but I have a bunch of chapters from him." They also plan to travel across Canada again for a welcome home tour to balance the farewell tour they went on before Marc went to prison. Not only are they interested in traveling across Canada but they'd also like to go abroad. She tells me they receive invitations from supporters from all over the world who want them to come visit and speak.
"We never stop working you know, so sometimes I wish we had a vacation. We'll go away and we'll speak and we'll meet people, but we'll also be sure to take time for ourselves, because we'll both be getting older and you know, we've had a lot of time stolen from us that we're missing out on so we're going to make up for it for sure."
For more, see Vancouver Observer's story on the state of cannabis seed sellers in B.C., post Marc Emery.