CANNABIS CULTURE – On a day reserved to remember those who fought and died for freedom, Cannabis Culture founder Marc Emery took to the streets of Montreal in protest of Quebec’s Cannabis Regulation Act.
“I’m trying to get charged. Please call the authorities. There’s a menace on the loose promoting freedom of expression,” Marc joked.
The police made a brief appearance and asked Marc to leave, but they refused to arrest him despite obvious breaking of the law. Instead, responding officers threatened to seize Emery’s wares under a local bylaw that prohibits retailing items outside without a permit, Emery had to pack up, but promised to return with a new strategy to bypass this municipal bylaw and get charged under the Quebec Cannabis Regulation Act.
Quebec’s new Bill 157, limits the sale of cannabis to government run Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC), and prohibits cannabis entrepreneurs from engaging in activities deemed to promote cannabis culture and use.
The law has been deemed by cannabis activists and business owners as an attempt to suppress free expression and restrain cannabis culture.
“Ï’ve come all the way from Toronto because I believe that’s censorship,” Mark explained. “It’s a very bad idea to tell people they can’t sell something with a leaf on it. This is a representation of our culture.”
Marc’s arrest would have allowed his lawyers to challenge the provision in court, which they believe is unconstitutional and contravention of basic Charter rights.
Under Quebec’s Cannabis regulation act, any item that does not contain cannabis but makes references to it could be seen as promotional. This means that t-shirts, stickers and even cannabis-flavoured drinks have been removed from stores for having weed leaves, “420” or even obscure references like “pineapple express” printed on them.
To protest the regulations, the “Prince of Pot” set up a pop-up stand in front of a SQDC store on Ste-Catherine Street in downtown Montreal, selling all sorts of heavily discounted and proudly pro-cannabis merchandise.
Among the wares were flags, lighters, rolling trays, t-shirts, stickers and other paraphernalia, all of which Mark bought from suppliers who’d had to pull the items from the shelves following the passage of the law.
“These items were bought from wholesalers who had to withdraw them from stores because you can’t promote cannabis culture in Quebec,” Marc said. “Actually, you can’t do much in Quebec. You can’t grow in Quebec, you can’t even have your own shop in Quebec. You are allowed to be some pawn of the factory farmed weed that is sold in these sterile government monopolies, that don’t represent our culture!”