Pot Shots: Pot Infighting On The Campaign Trail 

Pot Shots: Pot Infighting On The Campaign Trail 
Posted by CN Staff on June 03, 2004 at 20:12:30 PT
By Charlie McKenzie
Source: Hour Magazine 
Where there's smoke there's fire as marijuana advocates face off in the run-up to the federal election.Canada's budding marijuana movement has some festering political fissures that could surface when activists from across the country gather this weekend on Parliament Hill. The movement is caught between two Marcs: rock musician Marc Boris St-Maurice, leader of the ever-fledgling Marijuana Party, and former ally, B.C.'s millionaire seed salesman Marc Emery, now crusading for Jack Layton's NDP.
Both will present their cases at Saturday's Fill the Hill rally.The brainchild of Carleton graduate Jody Pressman, 23, Fill the Hill was planned well before the election call as a day of forums and pro-pot speeches. Expected to join St-Maurice and Emery are Osgoode Hall law professor Alan Young, Tory Senator Pierre Claude Nolin, and Philippe Lucas, director of Canadians for Safe Access.A year ago Canada was raising hackles in Washington and eyebrows in Amsterdam - we seemed to be leading the world in marijuana reform and hopes were high that pot prohibition would soon end.That pipe dream fizzled when a Supreme Court decision upheld the marijuana laws last December. The court tossed it back to the politicians who dithered throughout the spring on a haphazard decriminalization bill that, mercifully, died when the election was called. "It was eye opening," said Jody Pressman. "There was a clear, predetermined outcome to change the laws as little as possible."Politicians have promised marijuana reform for over 30 years, he points out, but marijuana offences are at record levels today, and he warns that Parliament's failure to act comes with a heavy price."Our legislators need to be held to account," he said. "There is definitely a correlation between these failed policies and how young people are least likely to vote."In previous elections many seeking change in the pot laws were drawn to the Marijuana Party. While their numbers were never great, they certainly helped put the issue in the public mind.Last fall, NDP leader Jack Layton called on Marc Emery and did a taped interview for Emery's POT-TV -- -- the marijuana movement has been in turmoil ever since.On tape, with the obviously overbuzzed Emery, Layton clearly - more or less - states: "The NDP would like to see legislation that allows people to consume marijuana, particularly that they might grow themselves, and some technique that would allow them to be able to purchase safely, knowing what the quality is, and have that all be a legal activity."For Emery it was both a revelation and a PR windfall."When Jack Layton came to my home and recorded those statements," he said, "it's his way of indicating he wants thousands of new members to come and take over the reins from these many moribund NDP riding associations filled with old codgers."Emery promptly saturated his websites with Layton's remarks."Now," he boasts, "the NDP is stuck with the position, even though the over-55 folks who control 80 per cent of all NDP riding associations get nervous every time they hear it."Politicians change sides faster than a windshield wiper, but they rarely turn on former allies as vehemently as the self-styled "Prince of Pot." In various online forums, Emery accused Marc Boris St-Maurice and the Marijuana Party of "ridiculous, treasonous, self-indulgent egotism" for even thinking of running against Layton's NDP. "Even though there will be Marijuana Party candidates of generally poor quality, running without my endorsement," he wrote, "loyalty to our movement requires that we support the NDP. Our movement is badly served by letting sorry ass people represent them in shoddy campaigns that have no achievable goals."Over Emery's objections, the Marijuana Party will field 100-odd candidates across the country. Party leader St-Maurice isn't losing sleep over his former colleague's defection but concedes the personal slurs are bothersome."This second-grade name calling is unbecoming," he said. "It's one thing to choose to work with another party - that's everyone's right - but it's quite another to attack those fighting for the same cause." Nor is St-Maurice all that impressed with the NDP's marijuana position. "The NDP fall short of being outspoken marijuana activists," he said. "I fear my predictions of the NDP being a dud when it comes to doobie are about to come true."As for the NDP, party officials last week issued a terse statement disavowing Emery's crusade."Mr. Layton did not and does not endorse the legalization of marijuana," they said. "The NDP endorses its decriminalization."Emery's activities were not sanctioned by the NDP, they said, nor is he authorized to speak for the NDP.Veteran activist Philippe Lucas, director of Canadians for Safe Access, finds the movement's infighting disturbing."I've been quite torn throughout this campaign," he said. "The important thing for the cannabis community to keep in mind is that we should absolutely not vote for any party that considers us 'criminals.'" Another veteran, Mike Foster, is running for the Marijuana Party in Ottawa Centre."At this point," he said, "I think it is more effective to lobby the major parties rather than join one. Once you join a major political party your freedoms are limited."Fill the Hill organiser Jody Pressman stays above the fray, choosing instead to focus on the movement's objective. "Whatever party," he says, "the answer is political activism. Get involved, write essays, research the issue - all these and more, and the more we do them the sooner Canadians will see an end to this unjust prohibition against marijuana."Source: Hour Magazine (CN QU)Author: Charlie McKenziePublished: Thursday, June 3, 2004Copyright: 2004, Communications Voir Inc.Contact: letters hour.caWebsite: Articles & Web Sites:Fill The Hill for Safe Access Party Party Pipes Up with Election Platform Party Ready To Roll Marijuana Movement
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Comment #3 posted by Virgil on June 04, 2004 at 08:55:33 PT
Robbie- The Repug Convention in Texas
The Repugs of Texas will have their convention this weekend. A person can hardly believe what these guys want. It is beyond incredible. Tom Delay must have inhaled too much roach killer when he was a pest exterminator-
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Comment #2 posted by Robbie on June 04, 2004 at 08:40:10 PT
Well, at least Canada is discussing this issue...
and there may even be a resolution! Don't look for any discussion like this in the US presidential race. I believe both candidates are beholden to the neo-Puritans.
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Comment #1 posted by FoM on June 03, 2004 at 22:47:30 PT
Potheads Begin Pilgrimage To Ottawa
The Woodstock of Grass Protests Intends To Fill the HillBy Matthew MernaghOTTAWA, CANADA -- (OfficialWire) -- 06/04/04 -- Attention Potheads: Put down the bong, gather up the posse and make the trek to Ottawa this weekend (Saturday, June 5) for Fill the Hill. The protest is the biggest planned act of civil disobedience on the Canadian Pothead calendar. A who's who of the marijuana movement are coming from all across this great big green nation (and America!) to speak, distribute pro-grass lit, and fire one up in the name of freedom.Months-upon-months of planning have resulted in a perfectly timed event, right smack dab in the middle of an election. A massive gathering at 'Fill the Hill' will put marijuana prohibition back on the election map. Twenty thousand kind souls are expected to kick up the jams at Parliament Hill, but lets double that to 40,000. Our American brothers are encouraged to experience freedom too. So get in the van, hop on the bus, strap into a plane seat, borrow from units and grand units, but whatever you do, plan to be there.The losing Liberals have just discovered, hopefully too late, that the June 28 electoral showdown will be all about the issues. Their middle of the road majority has been smashed by the horrid warmongering Conservatives flanking hard right. While the ballooning NDP are snatching the disgruntled left who have had enough of electoral elitism of sitting MPs. Political pundits are guran-damn-teeing a Liberal minority, which means, thankfully PM Martin won't last too long."I'm pretty excited about this election. There's genuine suspense of what is going to happen. A very non-predictable election so far," the Prince of Pot, Marc Emery told me from his Vancouver home. The publisher of Cannabis Culture, marijuana seed merchant and all around swell guy loves the political scene and is a major contributor to the NDP.The animated speaker's message for the last five months has been not only to go to the ballot box and mark an X for the NDP, but become involved with party. A massive number of people (about three million) admit to using the green at least once a month, but there is significant voter apathy amongst this group. Needing to improve the 1 in 10 voter turn-out, Emery, at his own expense, has been vigorously campaigning. His fall university lecture tour earned him a few arrests, but most importantly he drummed home the strength of uniting behind federal candidates.The Prince of Pot's team of activists has created a leaflet with NDP leader Jack Layton's positive grass message. Before the writ dropped Layton appeared on Emery's program proudly proclaiming his pro grass views. Fifty thousand Layton pro grass leaflets have been printed up with volunteers intending to drop them heavily on this crowd along with a take home campaign.Hearing the call to arms, marijuana activist, Marijuana Medical Access Regulations cardholder, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition member and uber grass cheerleader Alison Myrden is an NDP candidate in Oakville. The amazing women, who suffers from Tic Douloureux and chronic progressive MS, brings plenty of talent, enthusiasm and is not just a marijuana issue candidate, she has personalized all the issues. Myrden will be addressing the crowd at Fill the Hill. The brilliant activist is scheduled to speak in both Dublin and Boston later this year as a member of LEAP.Taking a day out from stumping in her Vancouver-East riding, NDP MP Libby Davis, who sat on the House Committee on the Non-Medicinal Use of Drugs plans to attend. The impressive list of speakers also includes; Osgoode Hall Law Professor and author of Potheads, Serial Killers & Lawyers Alan Young, Senator Pierre Claude Nolin Chair of the Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, Philipe Lucas director Canadians for Safe Access, Eugene Oscapella Lawyer, professor, and Director of Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, Marc Boris-St. Maurice leader of the Marijuana Party, cannabis activist David Malmo-Levine, Policy Director B.C. Civil Liberties Association Kirk Tousaw, LEAP executive director Jack Cole, Jude Renaud of Educators for A Sensible Drug Policy, and Marco Renda founder of Treating Yourself.This is a Woodstock line-up of grass activists. Potentially the most important event in political pot history could take place this weekend. Fill the Hill has to be more than just burning bowls, toking blunts and inhaling the marijuana cannon that the newspaper photogs love to splay out on the front page. It's time to Tune In (to the speakers), Turn On (to getting politically active) and Turn Out (to vote).
Fill The Hill
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