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The Jodie Emery Show – April 19, 2012

submitted by on April 19, 2012

With 810 days left on Marc's US prison sentence, Jodie shares pictures he sent posing with his bandmates from his band "Yazoo". Stop The Violence BC invited Jodie to a recent press conference where she joined former US District Attorney, John McKay, the man who prosecuted Marc and who has now joined the cry for the legalization of cannabis. Check out for video, more info, and to send your support!

To watch the press conference in full go to or see a clearer-audio version of the full video here:

To see media coverage of the event go here: and here:… and here:…

Much press was generated by the conference and Jodie has been very busy with all of the media. She was also invited to write an Op-Ed (opinion editorial) for The National Post newspaper – see and read it here: – and shares with us all of the media coverage over the last couple of days.

A prize is given away every week on the show and Jodie picks another name out of the BubbleBag. To have your chance to win a FREE MARC t-shirt, send an email to

On the eve of 4/20, we're all busy getting ready for the big event. We'll be broadcasting live, so go to and join us! 4/20 as a day of protest and celebration was started in Vancouver long ago – see the history and more information at

Be sure to visit our store at 307 West Hastings St in Vancouver or online at – there's free shipping to anywhere in North America. "We've got everything you need except the weed!"

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Marc Emery Prison Blog, Monday April 2nd

submitted by on April 5, 2012

It's Monday, April 2nd, 828 days to go to my release date of July 9, 2014. Although I get 'released' from prison on that date, because I am Canadian I have a 'detainer' on me, so what happens is US Immigration picks me up from the prison and takes me to an immigration detention center, puts me before a judge where I confirm I want to be deported back to Canada, and then I'll wait in an immigration jail until they put me on a plane to Vancouver with some US Marshall escorting me.

That apparently takes a few weeks, so I'm hoping to be home with Jodie in time for our 8th wedding anniversary on July 23, 2014.

This Saturday I have my 5th concert outside in the recreation area with the excellent amplified equipment they have here for concerts. This is the Easter Weekend concert, and our band YAZOO will be playing in this order:

1) Don's Jam (a warm-up improv piece)
2) Come Together (Beatles)
3) White Room (Cream)
4) Hey Joe (Hendrix)
5) Sweet Home Alabama (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
6) Wind Cries Mary (Hendrix)
7) Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Santana)
8) Crazy Train (Ozzy Osborne)
9) Sunshine of Your Love (Cream)
10) Sitting on the Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding)
11) Stormy Monday (T-Bone Walker)
12) Red House (Hendrix)
13) Purple Haze (Hendrix)
14) Blue on Black (Kenny Wayne Shepherd)
15) Pride & Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughan)
16) Hotel California (Eagles)
17) Voodoo Child (Hendrix)

I've been practicing every day for a few hours and tonight we have our final studio rehearsal where we run through all 17 of our songs and see where we might have a few things to work out this week in the days leading up to the concert. I feel we know the material pretty well now, my big hope is for good weather. If it rains, we can't have all this electrical equipment outside and the concert would be postponed.

Yesterday we took photos of the band members Don, Terry, Sapp, Chap, and myself, which you will see on my Facebook page in about 3 weeks or so after Jodie gets them in the mail. We aren't permitted to have our instruments in the photo, so we'll be having an artist here make a band poster using our photographs as reference and then drawing us in the studio playing our music. From there I'll use that to make posters for our upcoming concerts here. I'm sure you will see this YAZOO band poster on Facebook and when it's completed.

April 20th is coming up in a few weeks, and I'm not shy about saying that this now-colossal worldwide Cannabis Celebration event was started by my HEMP BC staff in April of 1995, and on that April 20 in Victory Square (at Cambie & Hastings street), it was a beautiful sunny day with music, speeches, toking and good times. The original idea to have April 20 change from just a time of the day (4:20pm) to a whole day (4/20, April 20) was inspired by two Grateful Deadheads who worked for me, Danna Rozek and Cindy Lassu. In 1997 we moved the rally to the Vancouver Art Gallery, where about 1,000 people came and toked from about 1pm to 6pm.

In those years from 1997 to 2008, the master of ceremonies and co-ordinator was activist and 'dealer dignity' advocate David Malmo-Levine. It grew from attendance of 1,000 to 10,000 in that decade, and by 2005 the event had evolved to become a farmer's market of cannabis consumables along with a day-long smoke-out, peaking at 4:20pm with a massive collective cannabis plume floating above the Art Gallery square bounded on all sides by Georgia, Howe, Robson and Hornby streets. There is nothing else like it in the world, not even Amsterdam or any other cannabis mecca has a day-long smoke-out in the major downtown public square combined with a fantastic assortment of cannabis ingestibles, smokeables and consumables for sale.

This year even the school board has closed the high schools for Friday, April 20th, accepting the inevitable 4/20 absences and making it official. This means even more young people than usual will be toking all day, and hopefully not drinking alcohol, as problems each year arise from alcohol excess. Police are polite and stay on the periphery to guide traffic, and there are never any major problems. I encourage you to spend money and patronize the vending booths and pavilions by the main sponsors "Marc Emery's Cannabis Culture Headquarters" (or CCHQ), Vancouver Seed Bank, The Dispensary, and EndProhibition.

Marking his 18th April 20 involvement in Vancouver, having been involved in every Vancouver 4/20 ever, former Cannabis Culture editor (1995-2005), Dispensary entrepreneur, author (Hairy Pothead & The Marijuana Stone), former BC NDP leadership candidate and my best friend Dana Larsen is organizing this year's huge event with Jacob Hunter of co-ordinating the day's logistics and Adam Bowen (host of the BCMP Vapour Lounge Jam Night) arranging the incredible musical line-up and staging of the presentations that go on from noon to the early evening. You can see videos and photos of Vancouver's 4/20 from previous years at the new website to whet your appetite for the greatest outdoor pot party on earth this year!

As a point of clarification, Seattle definitely has a huge 3-day rally in August, that possibly sees 250,000 people attend at Myrtle Edwards Park, and there is no peer on Earth to that event, but it's not an open-air farmer's market with cannabis products sold openly and without police interference and consumed openly for 10 hours on end. But why not attend both and see for yourself? They both represent the height of achievement within the movement. Seattle is an all-volunteer event that has incredible political credibility with Congressmen, the Mayor of Seattle, State representatives and other big names speaking. The sheer scale is awe-inspiring. Vancouver's 4/20 has attracted Members of Parliament Libby Davies to speak at last year's event, but it is largely a massive party and celebration of the cannabis culture.

On April 20, while the party goes on, the Vancouver Province newspaper will be sending columnist Jon Ferry down to Yazoo Medium to interview me that weekend. The weather here in Mississippi is warm and sunny every day, quite a contrast to my hometown of Vancouver, where most days are described to me as cool, overcast or rainy. I'm certainly grateful for the very sunny, warm days, the constant breezes, the excellent air that I breathe when I'm outside here. It's a large component in why I feel so healthy here.

I've been reading some wonderful graphic novels, comic books, my many magazine subscriptions, the NY Times newspaper (I do the crossword each day too), some excellent books, and I remain a major source of reading items loaned to many inmates here. Our MP3 players have yet to be put on sale, and although these delays (the MP3 player has been 'coming soon' since I arrived here a year ago) are suspenseful, it has not hindered my musical progress. The current scuttlebutt is that they go on sale in the first week of May.

This last weekend I had a visit from my great friend and Rhode Island activist Catharine Leach. This is the second time Cat has come to visit me, and both times she has had numerous challenges! The first time she visited last October, the electrical system on her plane here failed mid-air and she thought she was going to die until they made a successful return to the airport. This time, she encountered numerous annoyances like banks that wouldn't change a $50 bill into quarters and small bills, the guards here held her for inspection of her rental car, and they refused her admission because her shoes had no backs on them (a rule for visiting), so she had to go into town and buy an $18 pair of shoes with backs on them (that put dents in her feet, as she showed me) to get in to visit me. Then her plane leaving Jackson required maintenance and she was held overnight in Atlanta because she then missed her connecting flight. Plus she came down with a cold and missed her husband and children. It's possible that's the last time Catharine is going to visit me, but I really enjoyed seeing a friend and laughing a great deal over the weekend. I always cherish seeing Jodie visit me every two to four weeks, but seeing a friend in the two years I've been inside US prisons is very rare.

April 12th is my 8th anniversary of Jodie and I becoming involved with each other. In our entire time together, Jodie has had to live with the tension of having me go to jail or being in jail. When I get out in July 2014, I'll be so excited to be with her without the imminent threat of jail time awaiting me. The week we became very close I was in court for passing one joint in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, with saw me ultimately get sentenced to three months in jail later that summer. After that stint at Saskatoon Correction from August to October 2004, I was arrested the following year for extradition to the USA, and here I am.

So I'm excited that finally Jodie and I, in July 2014 – by then more than 10 years after we became an item – will be able to have some peace and serenity in our relationship without the threat of prison hovering about our heads. I LOVE MY BRAVE AND AMAZING MRS. JODIE EMERY! It will be so wonderful to finally be home. 828 days to go. (See the daily countdown clock at


The Jodie Emery Show – March 8, 2012

submitted by on March 9, 2012

As Jodie is about to head off to visit with Marc, she shows five new photos of her and Marc in prison, and reminds us that he has 852 days left on his US sentence, until his early release in July 2014.

Check out Marc's latest blog at and all about the Conservatives in Canada and the Republicans in the US. (Or click here: )

Bill C-10, the dreaded Conservative crime bill with mandatory minimum prison sentences for pot, has passed through the Senate and is awaiting a vote in the House. You should still write to your Member of Parliament and let them know you do not support this legislation. Find your MP here:…

Jodie picks another winner in the weekly draw for a cozy FreeMarc hoodie and stickers. To have your chance at great prizes, send Jodie an email at

Be sure to visit our store at 307 West Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver or online at – there's free shipping to anywhere in North America. "We've got everything you need except the weed."

All the details are at if you want to send him at letter. He loves to hear from fellow activists and supporters!

MARC EMERY #40252-086
P.O. BOX 5888

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Watch thousands of hours of Pot TV at:

Marc Emery’s Advice for Aspiring Activists

submitted by on January 17, 2012

My wife Jodie Emery and I both receive thousands of letters and inquiries with impassioned pleas that read: "I want to do something to make a difference. I want to legalize marijuana. What can I do? Can you advise or help me start? Where do I begin?" This is a question, without rival, that we hear most often.

It comes mostly from Americans and Canadians, but I have received the same question from India, Australia, Europe, the Philippines, Japan, and all over the world. It is a universal desire shared by many people in the cannabis culture the planet over.

If all these millions of people, largely high school and college students, could be harnessed into productive purpose, it would be a huge political force indeed! But most people who consume cannabis and believe in its worth still do nothing to advance our cause in any meaningful way.

The sobering truth is that true political action that gains results is boring, largely frustrating, uninteresting, tiresome, hard work and requires great patience for a reward that may not ever materialize. It involves writing legible and intelligent short letters (spell check always on, and thoroughly edited). It requires gathering verifiable, validated signatures, with care that the signatory includes their full address and live in the jurisdiction required. It involves going to an elected official's office with a specific request, to get that 10 minute appointment may involve 3 or 4 letters, emails and phone calls. That requires perseverance. A rally will require you to have a specific political purpose, and will require intense advance promotion, and it will require the gathering of contact information from everyone who attends.

Useful political activism rarely ever feels like fun. It feels like work. Exhausting work. Most young people don't really know that much about hard, focused work. Most young people don't even vote – most of the cannabis culture doesn't vote! Most of the cannabis culture likes to party, but hard work for a political objective, they do not often do.

There are a dedicated few people out there that do know this experience of hard work for a political purpose. The great leaders in our movement know all about hard work. Vivian McPeak of Seattle, who for 20 years has put on Seattle's Hempfest, the massive annual gathering of 200,000+ people in Myrtle Edwards Park as a non-paid volunteer, knows about hard work. He was a leading activist to get the 2003 Seattle ballot initiative I-75 making marijuana possession the lowest possible police priority in Seattle.

Vivian McPeak and Jodie: Seattle Hempfest 2011(Photo: Vivian McPeak and Jodie, Seattle Hempfest 2011)

Every year on Christmas Day, Vivian McPeak and a few other dedicated true activists spend the holiday with signs in front of a courthouse, federal building or jail protesting the incarceration of his fellow citizens under the US drug laws. He writes letters, meets with Congress people and state representatives, assists other festivals and rallies, guides and commits to numerous other political actions. He and others attended and helped organize rallies outside the Seattle courthouse where I was sentenced to 5 years in a US federal prison for my activist activities I did in Canada. And yet very few people might recognize him on the street. Many times his activity may appear to gain no political result. There may be no reward other than knowing he is doing the right thing.


As an activist, it is hard to measure our impact on the movement and the political system by our contribution. Sometimes, often even, it seems like you might be toiling in obscurity, having no visible or discernable impact. You may never know though the great impact you can have, will have, and do have, by your example of dedication, hard work and focused energy on a political goal. Only weeks, months or years later will you meet someone, or receive an email from an activist doing some good work, or inspired to get involved, who says, "I saw you speak at the library rally two years ago and I went home and read more, and found you were right, and decided to get involved. So now I'm at this booth gathering signatures for the 2012 ballot initiative."

Or you’ll hear, "I saw you gathering signatures on a cold April day at a table outside the mall, you were getting medical marijuana on the ballot, and I wondered what would motivate someone to freeze in the cold, and you patiently explained why it was so important. That always stuck in my head, how dedicated you were. When I met a person later who said you were all a bunch of stoners who just wanted to get high, I remembered you and spoke up, 'That's not true,' and I found out I was a believer, and I don't even smoke pot, but I became an advocate that day." Or, "I read your letter in the daily paper. You know, it couldn't have been more than a hundred words you wrote, but what powerfully true words. I couldn't get the logic of what you said out of my head. That was the day I was convinced. That's why I'm here today, at this lecture (rally, signature gathering), with three friends I brought."

That is the ripple effect of our endeavors.

When you contemplate how to make a difference, there are some things that will not work and will not happen. You will not find anyone famous or a celebrity to contribute their time to your project, be it a fundraiser, rally, or whatever. Celebrities expect to be paid no matter what it’s for. And celebrities never do anything controversial that could endanger their reputation with their movie studios, record labels, their ability to travel internationally, or the IRS and other government agencies that keep an eye on us all. That's why celebrities lend their name to issues that few can find fault with, like starving children, world hunger/poverty, cancer, etc.

Few celebrities can be found to lend their name to campaigns against censorship, legalizing drugs, ending the prison-punishment complex, amnesty for illegal immigrants, etc. because there is blowback to putting your name and reputation on the line for anything controversial. Even celebrities like Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, who espoused the joys of marijuana at every Nickelback concert I ever went to, never advocates legalization in any public statement, nor does he lend his name to any political activity to that end. In fact, he chums around with Prime Minister Harper who would love to see all marijuana users in prison and stigmatized! Celebrities by and large use not only cannabis, but also a wide variety of illegal drugs, and virtually never get politically active. The more powerful a person is in society, the less likely they will do anything with their power to contribute to the political discourse that seeks to legalize marijuana and end the prohibition.

Richard Lee: Activist businessman who financed Prop. 19(Photo: Richard Lee, activist businessman who financed Prop. 19)

Marijuana growers and marijuana dealers, people with money who profit by prohibition, will only help you if it helps them. As we saw with Proposition 19 in California in 2010, where the counties with a large number of prohibition profiteers voted NO in larger numbers than those counties where marijuana was not so embedded in the culture, they are largely self-interested people concerned far more with their own ability to exploit our culture while it’s illegal than to use those funds to liberate us from the prohibition tyranny.

That is why a saint of a man like Richard Lee, who took over a million dollars of his prohibition profits (from dispensary sales to thousands of happy patients, and education seminars for activists, growers, and medical users), virtually financed the entire Proposition 19 campaign himself, because a large number of the growers in California are prohibition parasites and do not want to see cannabis legalized for all. A visionary and beautiful man like Richard Lee was a rare, rare person. He made a tremendous difference, yet was betrayed by the exploiters of our culture and their weak-minded acolytes who sabotaged our greatest hope for legalization in 2010.

The initiatives being circulated for 2012 in California will not be successful because there is no saint like Richard Lee giving a million plus dollars to gather those signatures. Those initiative attempts will fail miserably because money that could help the movement to end punishment for pot has instead corrupted part of the medical marijuana movement in California. The many vested interests want to keep it illegal, so it can be profitable for them: police, prosecutors, politicians, gangsters, and many marijuana growers.

So you are left with ordinary citizens like you to make a difference. So what can you do? Plenty!


What's at stake with continued prohibition? Here are themes that required activism to address and remedy:

1) The drug war brings civil war, violence, murder, genocide, defoliation, and narco-military and government corruption to nation states all over the planet, of which Mexico, Columbia, and Afghanistan are but current examples.

2) In the United States there are somewhat over one million Americans in county, state and federal prisons for drug offenses out of a prison population of 2,500,000. There are 50,000-100,000 foreign nationals in US jails for drug offenses. There are 50,000-100,000 people in prisons for being a felon in possession of a weapon, or a weapon in the proximity of a drug trade, offences that are related to the drug war. Drug offenses then account for about half of all prisoners in the US. This affects approximately 10,000,000 other Americans whose family members, heads of household, breadwinners, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers are in prison from drug offenses. Many of these families then become life-long dependants of the welfare-prison-punishment system.

3) Over 10,000 teenagers enter the drug trade every month. It starts out simply enough. Teenagers needing marijuana choose a close friend who "knows someone". That friend then quickly finds out that if he buys a quality ounce for $320, and has three friends who will front him $110 each for a quarter ounce, then he can have his own quarter ounce covered by his friends' contribution. This is how virtually every dealer in the illegal substance trades begins. But that novice dealer quickly learns about economy of scale, and word gets out to others and soon he is buying "QPs" (quarter-pounds) and having a wider network of "friends" who want the good stuff. Quickly he begins to make money, and his client base expands. Soon he has a lot of money, better clothes, girls who are impressed, a car, status, and other "bling". His lifestyle looks very enviable to other teenagers whose legal alternatives are part-time work at McDonalds or clerking at Target at $8 an hour. And so the materialist corruption of youth inevitably spreads rapidly as numerous teenagers in a social circle seek the material rewards of the being a dealer in the drug trade. The dealer then meets suppliers of other substances, and the corruption expands. The potential for abuse of more hazardous substances then becomes more likely. When one dealer is jailed or removed through gang violence, others, not just teenagers, take escalating measures to capture that aspect of the drug market now made available by the elimination of the previous supplier. Prohibition is terribly destructive to our young people, poor people, minorities, those whose English skills are poor, those who lack a good education, those who did not have two parents regularly at home, and those with children who cannot get a decent paying job. As I said in my 'drug abuse awareness classes' here at Yazoo prison, "Would any of us, guards or inmates, be here if these drugs were sold legally in stores under regular market controls and conditions? Why would anyone be dealing drugs? We wouldn't. Prohibition made it attractive, and inevitable, considering the circumstances of poverty, unemployment and life at home."

4) The militarization and the establishment of the permanent police state and the use of violence by police forces in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the world over has occurred because of the war on drugs. The erosion and often elimination of constitutional safeguards to the privacy, safety and liberty of the citizen has occurred because of the drug war. Police powers of arrest, detention, surveillance, violence, force, forfeiture, have become dangerous to ordinary citizens as a result of prohibition.

5) Parents who use marijuana, even safely, even for medical reasons lose their children to 'child protective services' every day in Canada and the United States. Have you ever heard someone say, "I was taken from my parents by child protective services because my parents smoked marijuana, and I was separated from my Mom, Dad, and siblings and placed in foster care, and that made my life better"? You never hear it. Families are torn apart by the war on drugs.

6) Prohibition keeps the price of marijuana absurdly high. In a legal environment, marijuana would be $10-$20 an ounce, leaving the average marijuana consumer thousands of additional dollars each year to spend on education, their children, consumer goods, savings, rent, a home, their health. Ending prohibition would channel billions back into the productive economy and increase the standard of living of hundreds of millions of cannabis consumers on the planet.

7) While marijuana remains illegal and expensive, alcohol and prescription drugs get used more often by default because of their price and availability advantages. There is no more destructive substance on earth than alcohol. If marijuana were legal, it could be advertised and promoted, and the market comparisons of the effect of the two would be compelling advertising. Alcohol kills over a million people on the planet each year, marijuana kills absolutely zero. Alcohol causes staggering violence, barbarism, spousal abuse, aggression, traffic fatalities, gun abuse, fighting, riots, and destruction of property. Marijuana achieves a far more desirable state of intoxication without any of the negative aspects of alcohol intoxication. Alcohol destroys organs and brain cells in the body and advances cancer, while marijuana repairs brain cells and attacks cancers and tumors in the body. But until marijuana is legal, commercialized, and marketed without the current demonization by government, these comparisons are hard to get into the minds of citizens and consumers. Marijuana, once marketed, will steal billions of dollars in sales from former alcohol and prescription drug users. Alcohol consumption and abuse will decline precipitously once marijuana is legalized.

8) The expense to taxpayer of marijuana prohibition in the United States since 1970 is estimated to exceed one trillion dollars. In 2011 it was about $40 billion. And that's just the United States. And just marijuana prohibition.

9) Ending prohibition brings the role of government more in line with its proper purpose: to provide infrastructure and to protect our fundamental liberties. The purpose of government should never be to restrict or interfere in our peaceful lifestyle choices, or the market that seeks to serve our peaceful lifestyle choices.

All these aspects of the catastrophic effects of prohibition are inter-related too. Eliminating the cannabis prohibition and drug prohibition is the single greatest good that we could achieve in our lifetime. It would uplift all the people of the world, dramatically reduce violence and militarism, restore our fundamental civil rights and liberties, and improve the world's health. The improvements in our way of life are so great as to hardly be imaginable.

But I want you to closely examine your life and brainstorm about how much better life would be for 7 billion people on earth if we can eliminate prohibition.


An effective activist is an organized individual. You need to have a goal, and to that end you need a TO-DO LIST every day. This outlines what you need to achieve that morning, that day, and that week. You need to have a poster of chart or calendar clearly visible to you to remind yourself what you must get done to further your activist goals.

The other side of this coin is that you must eliminate or push aside time-wasting distractions, or at least indulge in these time-wasting vices only after you have accomplished the goals set out in your TO-DO list. Time wasting activities include getting high without working on activism, spending hours on Facebook, instant messaging, chatting with friends, gratuitous snacking, pornography, and any activity that takes your attention away from the work at hand. Work is work. It won't be fun like getting high or masturbating or tweeting pointless trivia about what sandwich you had for lunch. Work gets results, and that's what an activist does or attempts to do.

Most of you will have to conduct your activism around fundamental survival and primary obligations such as your schooling, your job, your children, buying and consuming food, keeping your home clean and tidy, etc. so a ruthlessly maintained TO-DO list is essential if you are to get anything of use to our cause done.

Most of the work you do as an activist has to do with POLITICS and the political system. Even though there are over 30 million regular marijuana consumers in Canada and the USA, most of these 30 million do no activism of any kind. They cannot, in the majority, even be bothered to vote. They are ignorant of the political system and how to effectively participate in it. They willfully stay ignorant even though they are persecuted and risk a criminal record, fines, jail, losing their job, their children, property, and drivers license. The prohibition laws established by three levels of government (Local, state/provincial & federal) pose a 24-hour threat to each person in the cannabis culture, as well as forcing us to buy on the black market and pay prohibition prices for marijuana costing thousands of dollars a year.

Politics is a tough thing to participate in, especially if one regards himself or herself as an idealist and sees how disappointingly corrupt politics is. But the alternative (that is, not participating in politics) is far more dangerous to each one of us. Of course it’s not a perfect system – it’s not even a good one – but it’s the system that dictates many aspects of our lives, and we’ve got to get involved in it if we have any hope of changing it for the better.


Your objective is to change the laws, which exist with a political system. An important and secondary goal is to educate, motivate, inspire and recruit others into political activity to change or abolish the prohibition laws or aspects of prohibition.

There are basic first steps you must take. (Note: much of the following is written for Americans, but the same tactics and examples apply for Canada too.) The first step is to join the existing groups that have been established who have a track record of success or are useful in the information they distribute. I recommend you forward $25 by credit card or PayPal or money order to each:
Drug Policy Groups to Support

These three organizations I highly recommend for their information value alone. $25 a year is the least you should give each one because the education and information they provide is valuable way beyond the $25. They will give you ideas of activity you can do locally. You will also have the opportunity of receiving alerts that instruct you to call your Congressman, legislator (that is your state representative) about specific bills before Congress, some good ones, like Ron Paul-Barney Frank's legalization bill in Congress, or bad ones, as most of them tend to be.

Marijuana Policy Project has been very effective in the past getting statewide ballot initiatives organized. They have a pull down menu on their website by state so you can see what important bills/activities that may affect your state are in progress. is the best information source in the movement, and is one of the best also. I urge you to support them by sending $25 to them right now.

If you say, "I don't have any money", then I can only say, "the only way to get money is to go out and work and earn the money. " You cannot be an effective activist if you are broke. Period. All activism requires effort, focus, a goal, and some of your own money that is necessary to be expended. I'm not asking you to spend a lot of money at all, but every one of us in the cannabis culture has a moral obligation to sacrifice some pleasure, luxury, time or whatever to provide some money to fight this grotesque injustice. GET TO WORK! Shovel snow, mow a lawn, work as a grocery clerk, get a job, earn an income. This is a war, for goodness sakes. Put off that gratuitous tattoo, go without that primo weed for a week or two, give up your weekend drinking budget – make sacrifices to make it happen. Activism should become a priority above all other non-essential survival and family obligations.

Most activities that people in the cannabis culture enjoy doing achieve no political purpose. For example, an April 20th rally has virtually no political value; it will not change any laws or politicians’ minds. Very few contacts are gained that are politically valid at an April 20th rally. It is a celebration of the culture, and a protest of sorts. But you should be trying to make a real difference in laws and policy.

Do not form your own group as your first step. You are not yet qualified to organize or lead others or risk squandering the energy, time and resources of others. This is about what YOU can do.

Don't form groups or committees unless there is a specific time-actualized goal that the committee is organizing manpower, financing and energy to achieve. Committees are slow, procedural, and accomplish very little. Someone needs to do the work. Someone needs to set a goal. Someone needs to make it happen or make sure it happens. That can be you. You don't need a committee. You need to be a good communicator to those who agree to work with you, and you need a specific goal and perhaps others who share that goal. But just get to work! If you are doing it right, others will volunteer to join you in what you are doing. Your dedication, if it inspires and seems to be working, will gather others to want to work with you or help you. Do not get bogged down with the meaningless cliche that "we all have to work together." It's not true. What "we" really need are individual people willing to do actual "work" to get political change. It can be done in a myriad of different ways, but what the movement lacks today are self-motivated foot soldiers who will do what's necessary with the talent, time, money and drive they now possess.

Jodie at a protest against prohibitionist Prime Minister Harper(Photo: Jodie at a protest against prohibitionist Prime Minister Harper)

The movement absolutely does not need any more Facebook pages, websites, or social network sites with a non-specific purpose. A Facebook page called "Legalize marijuana" or any such similar sentiment often wastes the time and energy of anyone who bothers getting involved with it. Worse, it gives you a false sense of satisfaction you are doing something for the movement, and you are not. You may be doing something "fun" or "self-satisfying", but that is not useful political activism. A “like” is not activism.

Much of social media is anti-activism because it distracts people away from doing something really useful for the movement. Social media is a catalyst to activism, but it’s not activism. Tahir Square in Cairo, Egypt was filled by people who were using social media to get bodies to the square – but the people showing up in the square was the activism. People willing to get their head kicked in, roughed up, jailed, shot and killed, taking a risk with their lives – that was the activism. Social media, Twitter, and text messaging got them to the square, but didn't make a dictator fall. PEOPLE POWER did that. People willing to give something up. People willing to die.

What are YOU willing to give up to achieve liberty for yourself and our cause?


The first thing all activists must do is begin a dialogue with your elected representatives. This means writing a cogent, BRIEF letter, by mail (not email) to your Congressperson in Washington. Your connection to MPP, NORML, and StopTheDrugWar, all with offices in Washington, DC, will keep you informed of bills and activities that deserve your notice and your input.

Letters by postal mail are far more influential than email. Firstly, mostly older people who actually get out to vote write letters by mail, and politicians consider older people as more valuable. Secondly, letters exist physically. Physical things are harder to deny. An email may or may not be seen and read, may or may not be answered or considered.

A physical letter has a psychological advantage. The Congressperson and his secretaries and mail readers know that anyone who would, in this day and age, type up a thoughtful letter, put a stamp on it, walk to a post office box, and patiently wait for a response after making a physical effort, is probably going to put a similar effort into voting. A person who does all that may get politically active if disappointed, or may volunteer for the Congressperson's re-election campaign if satisfied. A Congressperson gets hundreds, perhaps thousands of emails, but they take little effort to send, and letters are much more rare and far more precious politically.

You will get a physical reply by postal mail, unlike an email. This is a record of your dialogue with your elected representative. Know in advance you are likely to be unsatisfied by your exchange. Your Congressperson will likely admit to a bias that you find ridiculous and irrational. But this gives you an opportunity to understand where the Congressperson is coming from. You look at his presentation of his point of view, you analyze it, and then you identify an area where you can send a BRIEF medical or scientific rebuttal to his main point – preferably a rebuttal that comes from a source that Congressperson would respect (that is, someone from his religious order, or political party, or colleague from the university he attended).

Name-calling and insults are absolutely forbidden in any exercise of effective activism. You shouldn't even use negative terminology in your letters to elected officials. You should thank them for their response of your previous letter. You should express interest in their next town hall meeting in the state or district. You should emphasize your family has lived in that district for many generations, if that is true. You should find the Congressperson's last election material, and seize on values he has expressed that you can point to and explain how ending prohibition, would, in fact, lead to the kind of America and the values the Congressperson claims to aspire to.

You must select your topics of discussion within a narrow range. You can't be trying to cover several topics in one letter or dialogue. Stick to one main point, and try to find areas of agreement, where your suggestions dovetail into the Congressperson's stated value system.

Writing politicians requires patience because it’s likely you will be unsatisfied and frustrated. But you want them to assess your point of view, and you also want to become a known quantity – that is, someone who has a rational intelligent point of view.

If you have a legislator or Congressperson who advocates a rational point of view, then a letter endorsing that point of view is a good idea. Ask what you, as a citizen, can do to draw support to the proposal by that representative.

Jodie talking to CKNW Radio at a rallyWRITING TO NEWSPAPERS

Once you have engaged dialogues with your elected officials, your next avenue of activism is writing letters to local print media, especially the daily and weekly newspapers in your community. These should be no more than 200 words and should be a response to some news item you have seen in the paper about prohibition, police behavior, harsh sentencing, the impact on the community, etc. Depending on the volume of mail/email a paper receives, you may have a 1 in 4 chance of getting published, so perseverance is key.

For a great article about Letter Writing As Activism from sold-out “Activism Special” Cannabis Culture Magazine #65, see here.


Most communities have radio talk shows. These, too, are useful avenues to advocate an end to prohibition whenever subjects like crime, prisons, reducing budgets, drugs, inner cities, etc. are discussed. Again, there will be times you are put on hold and the host does not get to you by the end of the show, and many times the phone lines are full up and you can't even get in the queue to speak on the air, but eventually you will get on the radio. Have your ideas written down in point form, be VERY brief, and get what you want to say done in 30 seconds. Usually radio talk shows allow you one statement, the host or guest gets a rejoinder, and then it’s on to the next caller, or a commercial. Don't waste any time saying "I love your show," or "I'd like to say hello to your guest," – you are wasting your precious airtime with meaningless pleasantries. Go immediately to your points(s).

This is also a great way for people to get active and educate others when they’re forced to keep a relatively low profile because of their job, kids, or any other risk factor. That’s because you only need to give your name to be on air, and you can simply use your middle name if you’ve got reason to be cautious where you live. As long as your message is powerful, informative and understandable, you’re having a positive impact.


"Free Marc Emery" supporters on the streetPROTESTS AND RALLIES

At some point you may want to organize a protest or a rally. This could be at the office of an elected official, in front of City Hall, or the Statehouse if you live near it. Here are three excellent articles about "How To Hold a Rally" and "Rally Tools" from Cannabis Culture Magazine “Activism Special” #65, plus a Hempfest article from the same issue:

How to Hold a Pot Protest, Rally or March

Rally Tools

How To Stage A Hempfest

Pot TV: High Society with David Malmo-Levine – “Rally Do’s and Don’ts”

It’s surprisingly difficult to get more than a few dozen people to appear at a protest or rally. You can promote on Facebook (because it’s a specific event with a specific purpose) and put posters up, but turnout is considered good if you get only 25-50 people to come. The protest should be at a time when passersby will see your signs and hear your chants. The chants should never be rude, they should be brief and to the point – “No More Drug War”, “Cannabis Saves Lives”, “Prohibition Doesn’t Work”, or anything that can be easily understood by the people who will hear it.

Signs should be legible, most importantly. I prefer computer and machine made signs, using solid, thick, bold fonts. Hand painted signs are too amateur appearing for my tastes, and are often hard to read when passing by, but can look good if very big, solid lettering is used.

Jodie in The Province newspaper(Photo: Jodie in The Province newspaper)

If the media chooses to cover the rally or protest, the signs will convey your message to thousands who see you on TV or in the newspaper, so those signs should be very succinct and very readable. See photos of a December 2011 anti-prohibition protest held in Vancouver here and a similar protest in 2009 here.

April 20th rallies are popular now, but do not contain much of a political message and are largely attended by many teenagers. Young counter-culture teenagers being shown surreptitiously smoking marijuana makes a dubious political statement.

For rallies that have a political purpose, participants should dress respectably in office-suitable apparel, with clear legible signs, and be well groomed. Appearance is important – the message needs to be appealing to the most people possible. You need to convert the people who read newspapers and watch the TV news, mostly people over 45, conservative, older people.

The hippies and the counter culture agree with you already, but they don't vote generally. People who read newspapers (real paper ones, not online) and people who watch the local TV news or listen to talk radio generally vote. If you want to change minds, not only do your ideas need to be carefully chosen, but your clothes, your appearance, your demeanor, your language and your signs need to appeal to the conservative, older people who see you while driving by in their cars, or on the TV news, or in a newspaper.


If you are attending high school, college or university, motivating your fellow students to political awareness and political action should be part of your activism. However, it should only be a part of it. You want to influence the greater world beyond your school.

You can however, start an "Anti-Prohibition League" or Anti-Prohibition Club on campus, such as a Students For Sensible Drug Policy groups ( and A "Legalize Cannabis" club is too narrow and will appeal to greatly to a stoner mentality, and doesn't challenge the problem in a philosophically consistent way. Legalizing marijuana is a goal, true, but it isn't the heart of the problem. The problem is prohibition, and no prohibition is ever effective, just or rational. I believe for example that all prohibitions on personal choice are wrong and indefensible. Prohibitions on guns, sex, drugs, plants, property, abortion, gambling, sexual orientation, dancing, music, media and communication, manufacturing anything, are all wrong. Personal choice is limited to the non-violence principle, personal bodily and mental autonomy, and property rights.

But for the sake of your school club or association, prohibition refers to the government policy of banning or criminalizing certain consumed substances.

A club would do several activities. It would invite speakers to come lecture and educate your group and the larger student body about the issues surrounding prohibition. It would have a booth during clubs week. It would advocate for any anti-prohibition politicians (like Ron Paul) running for office in the school year, and club members would be encouraged to volunteer for these political campaigns. It would seek to have student leadership resist rules or regulations that require the expulsion of students who use or advocate marijuana. It would seek to address the laws that restrict or prohibit student aid to people with drug convictions.

It is important that this club not degenerate into a pot-smoking club. All the indulging, if desired, should occur after serious work has been expended to get necessary political activism done that day.

All schools have newspapers. You should be writing anti-prohibition articles and attempting to get them published in the school paper. Many colleges and universities house a community radio station. Try to get an Anti-Prohibition Radio show. This could be a one or two hour show where you read articles and news items from or and play anti-prohibition songs, of which there are many. ("Bush Doctor", "Legalize It", newer marijuana music – there are dozens and dozens of songs if you check around.)


For the first five months of 2012, the most vital political activity for those who want to end the drug war has to be, without any exception, supporting Congressman Ron Paul in his bid for the Republican nomination for President. If you do not know about the greatest man ever to advocate for an end to the drug war in the history of US politics, please read my previous blogs here and here for video and details about Ron Paul and his views on abolishing the office of drug czar, abolishing the DEA, ending all federal drug laws, and pardoning all non-violent drug offenders in US prisons, including me.

Joining the Ron Paul campaign in your state will give you experience working on phone banks, holding up signs, handing out literature, working on an honorable, principled campaign with the ideal of our cause firmly part of the campaign. Plus, you will meet many other highly motivated activists. Ron Paul never hides his belief the drug war is wrong; the Constitution, he says, makes no allowance for a federal drug war or federal drug laws or federal drug agencies or people in federal prisons for drug use. He believes all state medical marijuana laws should never experience obstruction or contradiction from the federal government.

The Republican race for the Presidential nomination will get down to Mitt Romney vs. Ron Paul by Super Tuesday in March (March 6th). The Republicans cannot win without the Ron Paul voters, and the Republicans cannot beat continued-and-expanded-war Obama without Ron Paul as their nominee. If Ron Paul is not the nominee for the Republicans, I will urge you to support the Libertarian Party candidate, the former two-term governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, a fine principled man who repudiates the drug war and would certainly legalize marijuana if elected President.

If you decide to do one thing to end this terrible prohibition, joining the Ron Paul Revolution RIGHT NOW is the most urgent need.


Other options include gathering signatures. Several states in 2012 have signature gathering drives to put medical marijuana or a legalization of marijuana on the ballot. They will need your help immediately. Read about the states that have drives currently underway at or here: and contact their organizers so you can get out on the streets, on your campus, or in your neighborhood to gather signatures.

Jodie making phone calls for the Prop. 19 ballot initative, Oakland 2010(Photo: Jodie making phone calls for the Prop. 19 ballot initative, Oakland 2010)

Are there any anti-prohibition candidates in your community or your state? It may require you to do some research but you will find some candidates who have some aspect of pro-choice on cannabis in them. Medical marijuana, or legalization, or some aspect of their positions you can find favor with in regards the drug war. They may be small-party candidates who have no realistic chance of victory, but they deserve our support if no major party candidates emerge upholding some of our anti-prohibition values.

Find out about the Libertarian, Constitutionalist or Green Party candidates in the your district or community if the Democrat and Republicans have nothing to offer. These smaller parties value your contributions in money and manpower even more than the major parties. These smaller parties will give you insight into how to run (or not run) a modest budget campaign with limited goals. Since the small party candidates aren't expecting to be elected, their job is to educate the public on their issues, critique the Democrat and Republican candidates, and recruit volunteers and members for future growth and campaigns. Your job is to learn all you can about the political process.


There will come a time when you are fired up, fed up, and have no one to vote for that represents your views on prohibition. It might be all your city councilors or county supervisors have let the local police trample over the rights and privacy of the people. It might be police brutality as a result of prohibition. It might be a sheriff who is a crazed drug warrior. It might be a judge who gives pot people long sentences. It might be a position in the statehouse legislature where both the Republican and Democrat demagogue on who is toughest on crime, while neither is smart on crime. It might be your Congressman is a hopeless drug warrior and his opponent is little better.

Jodie running for the BC Green Party, 2009(Photo: Jodie running for the BC Green Party, 2009)

You might just decide to run for an elected office yourself. If you do, set realistic goals. Your odds of getting elected with major party support, or being part of well-moneyed slate with substantial backing, are candidly very long odds indeed. Your first time out, you simply won't get many votes and you won't get elected. You'll be running as an Independent, a Green, a Libertarian, or other small party. You won't have many volunteers and most money you spend will be your own. You'll need someone to do your paperwork. There are forms to fill out, nominating signatures to gather, and bank accounts to manage. You need to keep track of all your donations and all your campaign expenditures.

Most of your friends will be useless in helping you, but you should try to get $10 and $25 donations from them. Ask people to volunteer and, if they get on board, assign them specific tasks essential to your campaign. Develop a Facebook page and website touting your candidacy. Make them both easily navigable and easy to understand. Look at other candidate templates on the net to find a style or approach you like (Jodie’s 2009 BC Green Party provincial election campaign website design is simple but informative:

Generous advance planning is recommended. Good planning saves money, time, effort and error. If you are the candidate, ultimately you are in charge but you need to find one very passionate, committed, reasonable, easy-to-get along-with person who can be your campaign manager. A good campaign manager is your most valuable asset. They need to have time, the organizing skills and a belief in you as the candidate. They need to be good with people, have a calm managerial style, and be good with and knowledgeable about the media.

You need some signs. Get quotes on a 100 corroplast (corrugated plastic signs) measured about 18" x 24" (larger signs, like 24" x 36" or 24" x 48", are better to hold up on busy roads, printed both sides in one color plus black on white). Election supplies can be found at websites online; simply Google "Election sign manufacture".

The best way to efficiently, at no or low cost (your time and the signs cost), get your name out there is to stand on busy roadsides at rush hours or busy traffic periods with your name, the office you are seeking, and your website on a very legible sign. It would pay off if you can get yourself or volunteers to go to main intersections anywhere from 7am to nightfall with your (hopefully easy-to-read, attractive) waterproof signs being held proudly in the air. You'll get thousands of eyes on your signs each hour. Some will check out your website and read your issues. If they like your views, your website will have contact information for them to reach you, and ways for them to leave comments. Respond to those potential supporters immediately, and ask for a small donation or their time as a volunteer.

Even though you probably won't get elected, you will learn a great deal about the political process, voters, campaigning, what the people you meet in your community think about your ideas. The experience will help improve your work on future campaigns, whether for yourself or as a campaign manager or worker in other campaigns. I have run for office on twelve occasions from 1980 to 2008, and Jodie has run as a candidate three times (2005, 2008, 2009), and we did not get elected, but enjoyed the experience very much. It really was hard, grueling work to try to do it right. You have to put yourself out there and take criticism, get feedback, and get ignored by big media, the other candidates, and most voters.

Jodie's 2009 BC Green Party election signs(Photo: Jodie's 2009 BC Green Party election signs)

When you are an independent or small party candidate, a refrain you will here often is "I like your ideas, but you can't win, so I'm voting for Mr. Lesser-of-Two-Evils". It will be frustrating to hear that, but elections are a package deal and voters rarely vote on principle. They tend to vote for the candidate who they see as most likely to defeat the candidate they really hate. Tell those voters to take your shared position on the issue to the candidate that they plan to vote for instead, and make it an issue with them.

Eventually you will get experience, develop a good reputation, and move up from an unknown candidate electioneering in obscurity, to running as a small party (say Green, Libertarian) candidate, to running as a Democrat in a heavily Republican neighborhood – or conversely, an opportunity to run as a Republican in, say, San Francisco or a heavily Democratic neighborhood. Maintaining your principles as you get closer to an actual opportunity to get elected will be the big challenge, but let’s hope you get that challenge!

Participating in an election is a very rewarding experience. To do it right is very draining, very exhausting, and very satisfying. It’s nice to get out there and listen to voters, tell people your ideas, and do the campaigning. But it takes a huge amount of time and energy. Decide if it’s really worth it for you before biting off more than you can chew!


Finally, everyone has a creative gift or ability of some useful kind. What is your talent?

If you can sing or are musical, do a music video for your favorite candidate, or if you have a band, contribute a performance night’s funds towards a drug policy reform group. If you are good at developing websites, let activist groups or politicians know you are available free or very cheap to build them a website. If you have organizing skills, offer your expertise to the rally organizers. If you are a graphic artist or graphic designer, offer your skills to design election signs, rally posters, graphic images for a website, website design.

Think of a skill you have and offer it to those in your community who are doing good work. If you are good at earning money but have little time to volunteer, give money to those who are doing the activist work you admire. If you have a car and are a safe driver, offer your driving skills to the rally organizers or election campaigns to drive voters, or to pick up rally supplies.

Everyone who believes in the cause of liberty and an end to prohibition has something valuable to offer. All you need to do is commit.

Now get to work!

Marc Emery #40252-086
FCI Yazoo City – Medium E-1
P.O. Box 5888
Yazoo City, MS

ADDENDUM #1 – Current Political Campaigns to Support

For activists looking to get involved in the most important campaigns in Canada and the USA, here are my recommendations for campaigns that require your immediate attention.

#1 Most Important – Joining the Ron Paul For President campaign. Register Republican to vote in the primary in your state. Paul as President will end the federal drug war, abolish the DEA, pardon all non-violent federal drug offenders, and end the world-wide Drug War. Plus much more to help save America. Never before has our cause had a presidential candidate champion our issue so powerfully. He deserves your support; the president and other candidates certainly don't.

#2 Urgently IMPORTANT – Gather signatures for California's REGULATE MARIJUANA LIKE WINE initiative. This effort is in urgent need of signature gatherers to put a legalization initiative on the ballot in California this November. Go to to volunteer immediately!!!!

#3 Urgently important for Canadians – In Canada, the federal Liberal Party of Canada has, at their convention only days ago, voted to make LEGALIZING MARIJUANA part of the Liberal Party platform. Now the elected Members of Parliament, Senators and others who make up the Liberal caucus in Ottawa will formulate a policy that reflects this. You should mail the Liberal MP's and Senators and the Liberal Party leader BOB RAE with your advice and suggestions for a safe, regulated but largely free-market regime in marijuana distribution. Visit

#4 Important – Colorado activists are gathering signatures to put legalization on the ballot in Colorado this November. To volunteer go to to get involved immediately.

#5 In British Columbia, there will be an announcement in February by Dana Larsen that a massive, province-wide signature gathering campaign will be launched to put marijuana legalization to the voters of British Columbia on a ballot in September 2013 or 2014. Organizing will begin shortly and signatures must be gathered in a 90-day period beginning late this fall or early next year. Announcements will be made in about 4-5 weeks. Stay tuned to for news.

Marc would like to see this article as a 'living document', continually growing with more valuable information. If you have any suggested activism or comments you feel should be added to this piece, please send your suggestions to or

Marc Writes His Own Song And Joins A Reggae Band!

submitted by on August 18, 2011

Marc in Yazoo Prison, May 2011Dearest Miss: I’ve been keeping busy, and am actually enjoying the extreme heat down here. Each day in the morning, or even from noon to 3pm, I go to an elevated wooden umpire booth behind the baseball diamond and take off my t-shirt, sit in the shade, and feel this gentle breeze while I read my magazines, books, and NY Times newspapers for two to three hours. I play my bass guitar every evening and most afternoons.

Lately I've been going down memory lane with the recent excerpt from my autobiography being put online. The teacher who escorted the students on that Middle East trip in March 1975, Don McQueen, my history and politics teacher from Sir Wilfrid Laurier High School from 1973-1975, is alive and well and was interviewed for the “Citizen Marc” documentary that director Roger Larry is finishing up the final interviews for. My friend Roy, whom I’ve known for 45 years, was also interviewed. Roy has just finished a delightful book called “2012 Rabbits and the Happy Apocalypse”, available on Amazon for download to Kindle and due out in print soon. I really have enjoyed the chapters I received from Roy in the mail, and am excited to get the printed copy of the book.

As you know, Miss, I was crestfallen when my instructor/teacher/band leader Grizz and my drummer Damian got sent to the SHU (Special Housing unit, solitary confinement) within 24 hours of each other two weeks ago, because our band “Stuck” was arbitrarily dissolved when that happened. I lost our studio rehearsal spot and our gig spot for the Labor Day weekend concert. But then, a few days ago, Terry and I were invited to be in a reggae band called “Star”, and I am now rehearsing "I Shot The sheriff", "Stir It Up" and "No Woman, No Cry". It's great fun and an education to become familiar with these three classic Bob Marley songs, which we'll play in the new concert in early September.

I am "getting it" – that is, the reggae beat – so it’s exciting. Fortunately, my lead guitarist Terry seems to know every song ever done, having played as a professional guitarist in bands for 15 years, including reggae bands, so I am getting expert instruction on how to do the bass lines for "I Shot The Sheriff" and "Stir It Up". I came up with the bass lines on "No Woman No Cry" from the chords indicated on the sheet music.

So I am in a band once again, and we are in the studio Saturday and Monday nights now – two practice slots, as other new bands did not make the cut, leaving more practice time available for us. When the Music Department C.O. (correctional officer) asked me what Terry and I were doing now, I said I was in the reggae band and he said, "well, that's good, because I know you two know how to play, from hearing your last concert, so your rehearsal times are assured." So that was cool to hear him say I "know how to play."

I always sign my letters to you as "Your Boo, Marc", now I will sign them "Your Rasta-Boo, Marc". In fact, you could send me a copy of what is probably my favorite piece I ever wrote for Cannabis Culture, "The Secret History of Rastafari", so I can show the rest of the band, who are all dread Jamaicans. We are the only interracial band with Terry and I in the mix now.

I had a medical check-up and my health is at its optimum, apparently. My blood pressure is 113 over 63, which is excellent I'm told. No infections or problems – as far as I know! I'm eating plenty of salmon/albacore tuna wraps that I make with my purchases from the commissary. In each meal I prepare myself, no matter what it is, I crush up 10-15 fresh garlic parts (usually a whole clove) and add it to my wraps or any food or even dips I make. To the salmon/tuna or even my cheese dips, I add chili-garlic sauce, chili powder, chopped jalapenos, mayonnaise, and the fresh garlic cloves. I have developed a palate for spicy, tangy foods now, as you can see, from when I was at D Ray James private prison in Folkston, Georgia, where virtually all my colleagues were Hispanic and ate spicy food.

My Mennonite Canadian friend Peter, whom I shared all my meals with at D Ray James, was supposed to be released on August 8th, a few days ago, and deported back to Canada, where his wife and nine children were eagerly awaiting his return from 21 months in prison for bringing a van of weed into the USA from Mexico. I hope Peter will contact you to say hello now that he is back in Canada. Give him my best wishes and let him know how I am doing. I was also satisfied to learn that my good friends Mike and Brad are doing as best as they can at DRJ, though that horrible place is as dysfunctional as ever by the sounds of it, with the nearby Okefenokee Swamp burning out of control for much of the summer, causing blackened smoke in the air. As you have found out, the air conditioning there has been dysfunctional for almost a month, and the temperatures there are the same as here, about 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) each day. Ugh!

I've got many good books to read. Right now I'm reading the daily diary travel book "Sahara" by Michael Palin. Palin is the former Monty Python member who, in the earlier part of the last decade, did travel shows for the BBC television, and "Sahara" was one of the episodes. Throughout the four-month trip, Palin wrote a daily diary and it is very well done. I am also reading a comic book reprint of a war comic series from 1965-1966 called “Blazing Combat”, a beautifully illustrated comic series done by the great artists of that period, Alex Toth, Reed Crandall and Wally Wood, and all stories written by Archie Goodwin. They’re modeled a great deal on the EC Comics (anti) war comics from 1951-1955 called “Frontline Combat” and “Two-Fisted Tales”. Those latter two titles were classic stories written by one of my favorite artist/writers of comics ever, Harvey Kurtzman.

I just finished the popular novel, “The Help”, which is being released as a movie this month. As you know, because you recommended this book to me, it takes place in 1962-1964 in Jackson, the capital of Mississippi near here. It’s extremely well written, but is probably a little too satisfying in that chick-lit way, in that there are only two villains, a mean old white lady and an abusive wife-beating drunk black man, while all others are saintly or redeemable characters meant to make all readers of both races and genders feel good about the world (today) by the end. This is the secret of its success, along with its deft ear for dialect and story telling.


Oh Miss, today was special! In the afternoon I met with John, a drummer, vocalist and songwriter for the other rock band “Out of Bounds”, who composed and put together a terrific song called Prince of Pot. I'm having them write up the music for that one so the BC Marijuana Party “Jams in the Key of Green” jam night MC Adam Bowen can perform it with a band for YouTube.

I was telling John about learning some reggae songs today with Terry, and that I thought one song went notes A, D, E (as it turns out, neither “Stir It Up” nor “I Shot The Sheriff” go A, D, E.).

So John plays the notes A, D, E (John was playing rhythm guitar while I did the bass). Then I play the notes A, D, E, E, E, (the first E a quarter note, the second two E's are eighth notes, that's a full measure in 4/4 time). Then we play it four times, then a full measure of G, then a full measure of E, another measure of G, then go E, D, C (with a 1/4 note, and two eighths on C), and then back to the lick of A, D, E, E, E.

Well, that sounds pretty cool. I said, "That sounds neat." He says, "What do you feel when you hear that music?"

And I say, "It’s funny you should say that, because that music makes me feel like the sun is rising, the desert is ahead, the day is just beginning."

He says, "Well, lets write a song".

And over the next three hours we compose a song with an intro, two verses, a solo – John does the solo, I do 10 measures on the bass that are A, D, E, E, E (four measures), then G, C, D, D, D, (two measures) and then back to A, D, E, E, E (for four more measures), all while John does this excellent solo that plays off my bass riff – then two more verses, with lyrics about a guy waking up, being nagged at, ditching his girlfriend and all his material possessions and driving off into the desert, where he clears his head, looks to the future, picks up a girl on the highway, and finds that she sure is pretty and fun, but perhaps no different from the one he left behind.

The lyrics are fun, they rhyme, they aren't profound, though I may rewrite them to be so, but I have always worked from the presumption I can't compose music at all, that I have no talent musically (I just like to play stuff I'm able to memorize because I love making music), and that I really just am determined enough so I can play songs. So those three hours were really fun. I made suggestions to the song that improved it, and I had a hand in the lyrics, and my playing was very good. It was a terrific exercise and I felt really excited to start from scratch and actually co-produce a song from nothing, a song that was kind of cool sounding. It’s really the first time I have ever co-created a song in a band situation. Yay!


When I got back from the visit we had on Sunday the 14th, I wasn't feeling so good, but I thought I'd let it settle. I had the uninspired food they served for dinner, and then I went to the yard and got my bass (I always use B-4, it’s reserved for me). I met up with the singer of “I Shot The Sheriff” and we got some things straightened out and worked on the song, and then I was given “No Woman, No Cry” to do as well, so I have three songs, which is great.

Then a fellow came in with ten songs from the 1950s and early '60s, and showed them to Terry, who strummed the chords as I did the bass on them (they were all straightforward and simple bass lines) and this guy sang them. It was great fun playing “Hound Dog”, “Oh Donna”, “Shake, Rattle & Roll”, “It’s Alright Mama”, and other oldies.

So I did 90 minutes of music on the bass tonight and I realize I am getting much better, noticeably, and other people are remarking on it. Plus, Terry did the guitar on “Redemption Song”, a wonderful Marley song, with the singer Smitty of Star (there are two singers in that band – Smitty sings “I Shot The Sheriff”, and Marshall sings “No Woman, No Cry” and “Stir It Up”), so he's singing “Redemption Song”, and I'm singing right along ("Please help me sing these songs of freedom, is all I ever had, redemption songs, these songs of freedom…") and it feels very, very good to sing that song. That song is just one guitar and voice; there is no bass or drums on that song. It’s also the last song Bob Marley recorded.

Then I walked around the track twice, in perfect temperature, nice sunset. I felt much better. So don't worry about me, Miss, I'm over my melancholia. I'm enjoying reading a biography of Phil Ochs called “There But For Fortune”, and learning to play his 1966 song “Cops of the World” – a song that Greg “Marijuana Man” Williams of Pot TV had made a video for years ago, which you introduced, but it was removed from YouTube for music copyright violation. It’s good that YouTube is now just adding links to purchase songs from iTunes instead of removing videos that use copyrighted music! The song “Cops of the World” is from the album Phil Ochs in Concert, performing the song at Carnegie Hall.

I'm changing the lyrics when I sing Cops of the World from “Dump the reds in a pile, boys, Dump the reds in a pile” to “Dump the Arabs in a pile, boys, Dump the Muslims in a pile” to reflect that all the contemporary US military campaigns and support target those people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Israel. (The original song lyrics are posted below.)

I hope you have a good time speaking at Seattle Hempfest this upcoming weekend (August 19th-21st). The Seattle activists have always been so supportive, and you’ve been given great opportunities to speak many times at the last two Hempfests, so I really appreciate that! Thanks for being strong and taking care of everything, Miss. I love you so much!

Your Rasta Boo,
Marc Emery

Send Marc mail! The address and guidelines are posted on the front page of

Cops of the World

Come, get out of the way, boys
E A E E7
Quick, get out of the way
You'd better watch what you say, boys
G C B7
Better watch what you say
We've rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
E B7 E A Abm A
So bring your daughters around to the port
B7 E
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
B7 E
We're the Cops of the World

We pick and choose as please, boys
Pick and choose as please
You'd best get down on your knees, boys
Best get down on your knees
We're hairy and horny and ready to shack
We don't care if you're yellow or black
Just take off your clothes and lie down on your back
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Our boots are needing a shine, boys
Boots are needing a shine
But our Coca-cola is fine, boys
Coca-cola is fine
We've got to protect all our citizens fair
So we'll send a battalion for everyone there
And maybe we'll leave in a couple of years
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Dump the reds in a pile, boys
Dump the reds in a pile
You'd better wipe of that smile, boys
Better wipe off that smile
We'll spit through the streets of the cities we wreck
We'll find you a leader that you can't elect
Those treaties we signed were a pain in the neck
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Clean the johns with a rag, boys
Clean the johns with a rag
If you like you can use your flag, boys
If you like you can use your flag
We've got too much money we're looking for toys
And guns will be guns and boys will be boys
But we'll gladly pay for all we destroy
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Please stay off of the grass, boys
Please stay off of the grass
Here's a kick in the ass, boys
Here's a kick in the ass
We'll smash down your doors, we don't bother to knock
We've done it before, so why all the shock?
We're the biggest and toughest kids on the block
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

When we butchered your son, boys
When we butchered your son
Have a stick of our gum, boys
Have a stick of our bubble-gum
We own half the world, oh say can you see
The name for our profits is democracy
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

Marc’s first update from Yazoo City prison in Mississippi

submitted by on June 7, 2011

Yazoo City Medium-Security PrisonDearest Jodie: As of May 21st, I've been at Yazoo City medium security federal prison for 31 days and I'm fairly settled in, so I'll describe my daily routine and what it’s like here. There are three buildings that house 128 men in a unit, 4 units to a building, so 512 men to a building when filled to capacity.

I am in unit one in E building, or Echo Building. Unit 1 & 2 are on the lower ground level; to get to unit 3 & 4, you have to walk up a staircase on the outside of the building. The buildings from the outside, when I first saw them, looked like federal prison indeed: stark concrete buildings with thin slits of windows where each cell inside looks out.

This place is run by the Bureau of Prisons, the bureau under the aegis of the US Department of Justice. As a medium security prison, almost everyone here has had violence or a gun charge in their offense, previous offense, or previous prison record. There are exceptions, like me. My previous place of incarceration, D Ray James, in Folkston, Georgia, was contracted to the GEO Group, a publicly-traded prison business, by the Justice Department to house deportable aliens (foreigners, non-US citizens) exclusively. GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) run many state prisons, federal detention centers (pre-trial or holdover facilities) as well as all 20 or so federal prisons for deportable aliens. GEO Group and CCA run prisons for sentenced "low" security foreign inmates, whereas the Bureau of Prisons operates all medium, high and maximum security facilities, including ones where a deportable alien, eg., a Mexican or Canadian, might end up. I was going to say all Americans are housed in Bureau of Prison facilities once sentenced in federal court, and that is 98% true, but I have a correspondent in Bakersfield whose US citizen son is at Taft Correctional camp in Taft, California, where Tommy Chong served his 9-months for Chong bong shipping, and that prison is run by a private company (as is the adjacent Taft Low for deportable aliens).

There are 64 cells on two levels, and I share my 7' x 12' cell with a cellie, as your cellmate is called. My cellie now is Wally, a 21-year old from Pensacola, Florida. First I shared a cell with a guy called Bird, but Wally's cellie was released, and Wally is a fan and invited me to share his cell rather than him getting some random new cellie for the duration of his 15-month sentence. Wally was convicted of receiving cannabis through the mail for the purpose of reselling it. This is a warning that weed mailed across state lines is a federal offense and punished harshly! Because there was a gun in the same house Wally lived in (even though it was not even his gun), Wally was designated to a medium security federal prison, full of "lifers" and people serving 10, 15, 20, 25 years!

Wally is scheduled for release next March. I liked my previous cellie Bird, but Bird is being released in 36 days and so I moved in with Wally so we'd both have a cellie we could tolerate and get along with. Additionally, Wally's fiancé drives in from Pensacola to visit, and picks you up, my beloved Mrs. Emery, on the way at Jackson airport. It’s unfortunate that you don't drive in this case because it’s 50 miles to Yazoo City from Jackson airport, but also because there are no taxis in Yazoo City for you to get to the prison and back to your hotel. So it sure is good she picks you up on Friday and returns you to the airport on Sundays (or in the case of your 3-day visit on the Memorial Day weekend, on the Monday evening after you visit me), and comes to the prison with you when you two visit Wally and me. It’s great that she has a nice comfortable car and is a very safe driver, that makes me feel very good.

I prepared a schedule for you to visit me every two weeks with a few exceptions, a three-week gap in June, August, and October. You have the busiest summer imaginable, with speaking engagements or appearances at the Treating Yourself Expo in Toronto (June 3,4, and 5), Tacoma Hempfest (June 25), Cannabis Day at the Art Gallery in Vancouver (July 1), Seattle Hempfest (August 20 & 21), Portland Hempfest (September 10). For your visits to me on Memorial Day (May 30), July 4 (Independence Day) and Labor Day (Sept. 5), as per B.O.P. policy, we'll be able to have photographs taken of our visit in the visitation room.

Each cell here has a locker for each cellie, a small desk, a toilet and sink. It’s a small cell for two people, but it’s adequate. It’s certainly more private that the 64-man dorm I lived in at D Ray James, and the locker is better, and I can use the toilet with more privacy that at DRJ. I do have to say, however, that you can adapt to many things, and I had previously adapted to the dorm and the lack of privacy at DRJ. My cell here has a tiny window to look out into the yard, good for at least determining what kind of weather is outside.

The cell door unlocks at 6am each morning. During the week, I get up at 6:15am and dress in my clothes from the night before. If you have any legal mail to pick up, you have to cross the compound and go pick it up at 6:30. On Thursday morning, it’s my day of the week to take my dirty laundry, the bed linens, shirts, t-shirts, trousers to exchange for clean clothes at the laundry exchange; that’s around 6:30 am. Those inmates who work the laundry are very fast and they process 400 inmates a day from Monday to Thursday, you don't wait in line long. Hopefully, when you get your laundry, you still have time to get your morning meal, which is usually oatmeal (I called it porridge growing up with British parents), two pints of milk and a fruit, usually a grapefruit or orange (and a better quality orange than the scrawny ones at DRJ), but occasionally a good apple or banana. Morning meal is from 6:40am to 7:15, and you get called out based on the sanitation inspection that goes on for each unit, so that if your unit is the cleanest during inspection, you get released first for all meals for one week (until the verdict of the next inspection comes in), and if your unit scored the lowest, you get released last for your meals for one week. Being last or near the end means that you can miss a meal if you go to laundry exchange.

In this prison, inmates are only released for "a 10-minute move" at 7am, 8am, 9am, and the recall (all inmates report back to their unit for "count") at 10am. This movement is so inmates can go to the barbershop, the commissary (the inmate store), their job (every inmate is assigned a job which varies vastly in time required, pay, workload), the yard, medical, library, etc. Then lunch starts at 11:20 and goes to noon, with 10-minute movements at noon, 1pm, 2pm and recall at 3pm. We are locked into our cells (called "Lock Down") from 3:45 to 4:45pm when a daily routine called "Stand-up Count" is done of each inmate in their cells at 4pm, and you'd better be standing up when the C.O.s (correctional officers) come by! Evening meal is 5:20pm to 6pm, with 10-minute moves at 6pm, 7pm and recall to units at 8pm.

Each morning, there is a "Call-Out Sheet" in each unit. It is imperative each inmate look at the call-out sheet. If you have been assigned to any appointment (dental, medical, education, meeting with counselors, legal mail pick up, etc.) or have had your job assignment changed, the time and location of where you are expected to be is on the sheet. If you miss an appointment, you can be cited for an infraction. So every inmate checks the daily call-out sheet the night before or that morning.

Each inmate within 3 weeks of arrival gets assigned a job. When you are not reporting to your job, you are free to go to the yard, the barbershop, the commissary, etc. during the 10-minute move.

The most demanding job is to work in kitchen services. Kitchen services makes all the food for the inmates, 3 times daily, 7 days a week, for 1,500+ people. It requires a work force of 170 inmates working either a morning shift from 4:30am to 7:30am, 10am to noon, or an afternoon shift from noon to 2pm, 3:30 to 7pm over a 5-day period.

Jobs here at the prison can pay as little as $5 or $10 a month, light jobs that require only a few hours a day, like my clerking job for the Recreation area. I keep track of the inmates (currently 75) assigned to the afternoon and evening shifts in the Recreation Building and Yard. I note new additions and transfers, and keep track of their attendance for the purposes of their pay sheets. This includes the inmates who teach music, look after the instrument room, the practice studio, the leathercraft studio, the art studio, clean the washroom, maintain the pool tables & equipment, sweep the area, mow the massive lawn area in the rec yard (with push handmowers I haven't seen since I was a kid in the 1960's doing lawns at $1 each), maintain and store the basketballs, volleyballs, soccer balls, act as umpires or referees during baseball, soccer, football games outside, and basketball games in the gymnasium, cleaning of the gymnasium, picking up of litter and maintaining the trash containers.

More demanding jobs like in kitchen services will pay $40-$60 per month, or in "Facilities" where actual skilled work is required, like plumbing, sheetrock installation, construction, venting, ductwork, $80-$120 per month. There are medical orderlies (workers), commissary orderlies, barbers, laundry orderlies (this requires about 40 people), morning rec yard orderlies, afternoon rec yard orderlies, unit orderlies who clean and polish floors, clean and disinfect phone and computer terminals, clean the showers, take out the trash, maintain the compound area between the three housing buildings and the Chow Hall and other buildings that make up our entire world if you are an inmate.

The highest paying job is to work for Unicor, Federal Prison Industries, Inc. Many inmates want to work at the Unicor plant here and there is a waiting list. Unicor is the Bureau of Prison's industrial manufacturing that goes on in most B.O.P. prisons. It pays workers, depending on seniority and rate of production by each inmate, $66 per month at one month experience, to $100 per month after 4 months, then $133 per month after 7 months, and $166 per month after 10 months, up to $200 a month. After 85 months at Unicor, an inmate could earn $240 a month plus overtime of $2.80 an hour. For the machine operators who make the clothes, there is a minimum quota, and then any additional output is extra pay. Unicor is like a serious factory job, from 7:45 am to 11am, with 40 minutes for lunch and a bathroom break, and then resumes from 11:45 am to 3:30pm.

Unicor employs 350 people here. It is a huge concern! Here they make uniforms and vests for all branches of the US armed forces. A lot of uniforms! Most jobs are in sewing together these uniforms, but like any factory, there are inmate accountants, clerks, computer data inputters, but machine operators mostly. Attendance and performance here are required to keep these desirable jobs, as many inmates have no outside source of income and rely on their Unicor job to give them $75 – $200 a month to spend at the commissary or order a book or magazine subscription by mail. There is overtime pay at time and a half when the demand is there, so there is the possibility of more money to be earned beyond the 5-day a week 7:45am to 3:30pm basic hours. Unicor factories that make clothes are located in 24 federal prisons; factories that make electronics and plastics are located in 15 federal prisons; recycling plants are at 8 federal prisons; industrial products are made at 7 federal prisons; office furniture is made at 8 federal prisons; automotive and naval transportation industrials at 8 federal prisons; and services (like phone, telemarketing) at 16 federal prisons.

Yazoo City Prison Complex SignAfter I return from the chow hall for morning meal, I take a shower. There are 10 showers stalls, concealed properly by doors for privacy, with a good range of temperature from cool to hot, that require you to turn a dial. At D Ray James, there was no privacy, the temperature came out at one level, warm, and you had to press a button every 10 seconds to maintain water flow. This is much better. They sell the coal tar shampoo I need to keep my scalp from getting itchy and flaky, and a good razor and shave cream at the commissary, so the shower is very refreshing.

Then I change into clean clothes for the day. Socks, underwear and any personally owned items, like commissary-bought clothing (you can buy t-shirts, shorts, track pants, sweatshirt, thermal underclothes) and towels, are put in a mesh bag that has your name on it and you place it in a bin in your unit on Wednesday and Sunday, and it comes back the next day washed. Everything in that mesh bag is washed at once in giant – and I mean really big – washing machines with about 25 other mesh bags, and then dried in an equally giant drier machine by the inmates. So our laundry is done in two parts: personal items, socks, underwear this way (washed and dried in your mesh bag); and shirts, trousers, bed linens are exchanged for identical sized cleaned, pressed and folded items.

When you go to your job, or the Chow Hall at lunchtime meal (Monday to Friday), or any medical, dental, commissary, education, visitation or formal detail/call-out, you must be attired in full outfit, khaki trousers, boots, t-shirt, khaki shirt, belt. For morning meal, evening meal, weekends, yard activities, and while in your cell or in your unit, you can wear any kind of the prison-issued clothing and running shoes sold in the commissary. You are permitted to take off your shirt in the yard area during workouts and exercise.

It is blazing hot and humid here at times, almost always sunny, and we are issued hats on arrival and can buy baseball caps in the commissary (at a reasonable $4) and I always wear mine from noon to 3pm, along with clip-on sunglasses, outside in the yard. The boots issued to me here gave my left heel huge painful blisters, so I bought a softer set of boots called Wolverines from commissary for $67, that while still steel-toed, are extremely comfortable and are a great improvement over the hot and heavy boots I was issued. In the yard, inmates wear running shoes, except the lawnmower orderlies who keep the large field of grass cut wear their workboots.

After a shower and dressing in the morning, I go to check my email. We don't have internet in prison, nor MP3 players, CD players, or Kindle readers, although I think the B.O.P. should sell those devices in the commissary. But we do have radios we can buy, and headphones, and that is how inmates listen to the TV sets in the unit. There are nine TVs in this unit; you listen to them through your radio on a separate internal radio track. Two TVs are geared for the African-American inmates who comprise at least 60% of the inmates (BET, AMC are popular), two are set on the sports channels (ESPN 1 & 2), one is CNN, three are Hispanic (they comprise 25% of the inmates), and one is for the white inmates (NASCAR, Country Music Television, History Channel). But any inmate can watch any television.

Voluntary segregation exists in the Chow Hall where whites tend to sit together, African-Americans sit together, and Hispanics sit together. There is a dining table for anyone – they identify themselves as Christians – where Hispanic, white, black, and homosexuals can seat themselves without prejudice. I sit among the whites because that’s how I was shown when I arrived, and most (but not all) of my friends are white, so I usually sit with a friend or friends in the dining hall.

Virtually all cells are racially compatible, meaning two Hispanics will be housed together in one cell, African-Americans in one cell, whites in one cell, etc. but my friend Chris, who is apparently African-American (I just assumed he was well tanned, honestly!) has had an Hispanic cellmate quite satisfactorily. The radio also picks up radio stations quite clearly if you turn the light off in your cell (the electromagnetism involved in lighting creates distortion) or go outside. I have my radio set to an oldies station (pop hits from 1960 to 1980), a classic rock station (rock songs from 1964 to 1985), Jack FM (which play "anything they want" so they say, but it’s possibly the best station), an R&B station (I keep waiting for them to play Rihanna's song S&M which I just love, Rihanna is "da bomb"!) and a modern pop station. 90% of the time I'm on the oldies station, Jack FM or the classic rock station when I listen to the radio walking the track in the yard, or at night before sleep.

So at 7:30am, I go to my email on the Corrlinks prison "email" system. I have 30 contacts I can correspond via email with. Of course I am most excitedly hoping for a long "overnighter" message from you, my beloved Jodie, explaining how your day before went, bringing me up to date on your life and what’s going on in the world. I am always crushed, if after a long day at work, you get home and fall asleep before writing me a long note, as sometimes happens. I long for you all day, even though I stay busy, but I think about you all day throughout the day, and live for your messages. We only get 300 minutes a month of phone time, and that’s only 10 minutes a day to call you, usually at 9pm at night my time. So I need and crave your email messages in a way that it is hard for someone on the outside to understand.

Email costs me $3 an hour, and in my first 30 days here, I spent $300 on 100 hours of email correspondence! This fee, which sounds exorbitant, is apparently to pay for the B.O.P. staff to read all incoming and outgoing email, as in prison there is no right to privacy – although I have never had any email censored nor have I ever been reprimanded for any email (this is also true of every letter in the mail I have received and every one I have sent, well over 1,300 letters I've sent to correspondents in 12 months in US federal prisons).

I'm on the Corrlinks email for three hours a day, sometimes more. If I have a contact who doesn't email me regularly or often, or only emails me superficial hellos, I will delete that contact to make room for a regular letter mail correspondent who writes by postal mail, and begin an email correspondence with them. In the case of email with me, my contacts have to use it or lose it! If I could have an unlimited number of email contacts, it would be different, but since I can only have 30, they have to be active email friendships because keeping constantly updated and connected means everything when you’re in prison.

This is an account of my monthly spending: $300 on email, $120 on the phone calls to you each month, $320 on my commissary, which is all my food, boots, running shoes, toiletries, t-shirts, towels, shorts, each month (I usually spend the $320 limit before my 30 day period is up), plus about $80-$100 a month on stamps to send letters and books I've read to my correspondents. So that’s $820-$850 each month! This is why I encourage you to ask my supporters and friends to make donations to my commissary account, because that $10,000 a year is beyond your ability to provide. I receive no income except for the $10 or so a month I get from my clerking job. Thankfully, over my decades of activism and financing hundreds of people's projects, campaigns and even personal emergencies, there are many who feel they want to thank me for all I've given to others. That support is crucial and welcome in the most pressing time of need I've ever experienced in my life.

Today I am going to the commissary to spend the remaining $42 left on my $320 monthly limit. My phone minutes and my commissary limits are reset on the 7th of each month, and it's only May 23 today, so my limit won't be reset for 14 days! I'm well stocked on most things, but I need some more trail mix, tortillas for the salmon wraps I make, a few t-shirts, and some postage stamps. I don't buy any junk food, no sweets, candies, chocolate bars, or fattening foods; mostly I eat a lot of albacore tuna and pink salmon packs, chili garlic sauces, garlic, refried beans, higher quality meats, powdered milk, mayonnaise, jalapeno peppers, nuts (OK, these are fattening, but it’s my only fattening food choice), etc. This month I purchased the Wolverine boots, so that $67 took a bite out of my monthly limit. Postage stamps and medicines like ibuprofen, antibiotic ointment, etc. don't count against an inmate's monthly spending limit so those can always be obtained if I need them and have the money in my account.

Yazoo City Medium-Security Prison ExteriorInmates are let into the commissary during the 10 minute moves, Monday to Thursday, 7, 8, and 9am, and in the lunch hour (11:20 to noon) and at 1 and 2pm. A C.O. collects your filled-out commissary purchase sheet (listing the items you want) and takes it through a door into the big store area where several inmates whip about with each sheet gathering up each order. You have to wait in the commissary waiting room for your name to be called, and when you go to a counter through a door, the goods are tallied, you put them in your all-purpose mesh bag (used for both laundry and commissary purchases), and then return to the waiting room where you will be let out at the top of the hour (8, 9, 10am, lunch time, or 1, 2, and 3pm). I always carry a book with me when I go to commissary, medical, or appointments where I'll be waiting until the next ten-minute move.

In my emails, I write my experiences, work on my autobiography, receive current news stories, and stay in close touch with you, my close friends and numerous activists. This is distinctly different that my previous prison, D Ray James, which, not being part of the Bureau of Prisons, did not have Corrlinks email. All immigrant prisons in the US run by GEO Group and CCA do not have email for inmates.

After I do one hour of email, usually from 7:30 to 8:30am, I tidy my cell so it’s spotless and the desk is clear, our shoes are lined up according to regulations, beds are made properly, and all surfaces clear. Everything should be inside a locker. You can be punished substantially for not having a totally tidy and neat cell. Also, our entire unit is graded, and as I have said, our position for release to the chow hall for one week is arranged based on that grade.

At 9am I go to the yard for one hour of walking the track. Today I walked 6 laps with my radio and headphones on listening to music. One lap is 1/2 a mile, so I walked 3 miles in one hour. It was 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) and humid, but not uncomfortable. It will get much hotter and more humid soon however. Yesterday was a Sunday and I practiced guitar for 3 hours, 90 minutes on acoustic 6-string, and 90 minutes of a bass guitar. I have been practicing for 16 days now, at least one hour each day. Much more about that later, as I practice between 6pm and 8pm every day except when you visit me. It’s too hot and sunny to walk the track from noon to 3pm when I am also in the Recreation Area.

This area that Yazoo City is located in is known as the Mississippi Delta. It’s not near the Mississippi River delta – that of course, is down by New Orleans. The Mississippi Delta is a flat floodplain bordered by the Mississippi River on the west, Vicksburg on the south, Memphis on the north, and the Yazoo, Black, and Tallahachie Rivers on the east. This area, if you look at it on a map, is historically very prone to flooding when the mighty Mississippi, the third largest river system in the world (after the Amazon, the world’s largest, and the Nile – and I believe the Mississippi and its tributaries is larger in fact, than the Nile, by far), receives large amounts of rain in the northern states or has a cool spring and the snow melt is delayed. In 1927, a massive flood of this Delta caused the US federal government over the 1930's and 40's to embark on a system of levees and flood containment engineering projects. However, sometimes, like the past month, huge rainfalls combined with cool weather (and thus, delayed snow melt) in the northern states of Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, and Indiana feed the Ohio River, Missouri River, and various tributaries of the Mississippi to cause it to swell and overflow its banks. That’s why, in the past four weeks, huge areas around the Mississippi river at Memphis, Vicksburg, and much of Arkansas, Missouri, the Delta here, and a huge swatch of Louisiana have been or will be flooded.

For a while it was speculated that if Yazoo City flooded from the Yazoo and Black rivers backing up (not being able to drain into the swollen Mississippi River), that all of us here at the federal prison would be evacuated. The Yazoo River, in fact, is at its highest point ("cresting") today, but the levees have held and not broken or been breached. But even if it floods over the compound, the plan is to take our mattress from the ground floor (where I am) and put it on the floor of the upper building (the three inmate housing buildings have two levels). So we've been a bit nervous about that for a few weeks now, because flooding would close the yard and probably make life very inconvenient for us here.

[Update by Jodie: the flooding has receded and the prison is safe from any emergency action being required.]

This area is famous for a black musical form called the Delta Blues, made famous by Robert Johnson, but continued on by Muddy Waters, Big Bill Broonzy, Buddy Guy and many other blues musicians who came out of cotton-picking sharecropping families here in the Mississippi Delta. This area has always been white plantation owners and black laborers, and is historically the only state where blacks have always outnumbered whites. Many violent and vicious civil rights incidents happened here from 1955 to 1966.

One of the most famous and notorious torture prisons was here, The Parchman Farm, otherwise known as Louisiana State Penitentiary, famous in the book and movie "Cool Hand Luke". Cool Hand Luke is about a white Mississippian who, protesting City Hall's abuse of power, saws off the money-collecting heads of parking meters, and gets thrown in Mississippi State pen, the Parchman Farm, and ultimately dies there. It’s famous for the line by prison gang work team over-seer (played by George Kennedy) "What we have here is a failure to communicate", ominously mocking the era's liberal values and phraseology while predicting cruelty and torture to follow. Before I arrived in Mississippi I read the book "Worse Than Slavery" on the history of the Parchman Farm (M.S.P.). When civil rights "Freedom Riders" and "Voter registration" activists were arrested in mass round-ups in 1961 to 1966, hundreds were incarcerated at Parchman farm and underwent disturbing cruelties.

This place is, fortunately, not like that. Yazoo City medium is well run in so far as rules are clear and consistent. I have seen no violence here, and I have not seen any disrespect by correctional officers or inmates. I hope it remains that way. The fact is, however, inmates here are sentenced to absurd lengths of incarceration. There are many inmates with 20 and 25-year sentences for cocaine or methamphetamine sales. These sentences will cost the US taxpayer over $1,000,000 each over the life of each 25-year sentence. Most here at Yazoo have been sentenced for drug offenses, and most received 15, 17, 20 years, and some longer, including life sentences. Staggering long sentences! The man who is teaching me bass guitar has been in jail 30 years over drugs, with 9 more to go! I don't know how they manage to find the optimism to keep on going, and I’m grateful for the relatively short sentence I received in comparison.

Inside the unit I am housed in with 125 other inmates (unit E-1), I do three hours a day of email, write letters, read mail, and read my books and magazines. Currently I am reading "Under Their Thumb" by Max German, a well-written memoir by a fan of the Rolling Stones about his time with the band from 1980 to 1985. I just finished an excellent novel by a favorite writer, Lauren Helfer, called "A Fierce Radiance", a story (published 2010) about the mass production development of penicillin from 1941 to 1943 and how it impacted WW2 and a staggering number of previously fatal illnesses that bedeviled humankind. Helfer wrote one previous book, "City of Light", 10 years ago, a novel about the impact mass electrification had on Buffalo, New York (and ultimately all North America) from harnessing the Niagara Falls for hydro-electric power generation. Both books involve murder, huge financial stakes, class struggles, many deaths in the pursuit of progress, and heroic characters – ordinary people driven to extraordinary achievements and accomplishments. I actually thought Helfer has taken Ayn Rand's sense of life from Rand's books and told a better story using genuine characters and historically important epochs to tell them. Yet there is no ideological message that Helfer wishes us to buy into; she's a great storyteller hoping to illuminate us as to the greatness in our past and the triumph of human beings over much adversity and challenge. In both cases, men AND women lead a crusade to harness nature for the good of all humankind. Helfer's lead characters in both books are admirable and convincing women.

Previous to reading "A Fierce Radiance", I read the 11th book in the #1 Ladies Detective series. I have read them all, and they are delightful light reading. Since I have been at Yazoo City, I've read "Lovesick Blues", an excellent biography of Hank Williams, the southern musician that established country music as a mass music; two wonderful books called "Junior Ray" and "Yazoo Blues" written by John Pritchard, using a character, a retired police officer from the Delta here, narrated in a Delta dialect, to hilariously recount the culture and parts of history of this area. Its candor, dialect, and outrageous sensibility had me laughing aloud at times, and both are extremely delightful.

Only one magazine of my 30 subscriptions has had my change of address effected so I am getting it here, that’s the excellent Bloomberg Business Week magazine, a terrific read that keeps me on top of the business world. All others have yet to be rerouted, after 35 days. I miss all my magazines, especially MacLeans, the Canadian current affairs magazine. That’s one of the challenges of being moved to a new facility; magazine subscriptions take up to a couple months to get rerouted. Thankfully, you're working on changing the address for dozens of my magazines. I look forward to getting those in the coming weeks and months.

More updates to come. Thank you for being so supportive!


Marc Emery #40252-086
Yazoo City Medium E-1
PO Box 5888
Yazoo City, MS

Guidelines for how to send books and magazines are posted at under the “Write To Marc” tab at the top of the website.

Marc is already subscribed to the following magazines. He would especially like any travel and news magazines that are not listed.

National Geographic
Mother Jones
The Economist
New York Times
Bloomberg Business week
The Atlantic
Rolling Stone
Vanity Fair
Guitar Edge
The Walrus
American Curves
Beautiful British Columbia
7×7 Magazine
The Hockey News
SLAM Magazine (basketball)
Prison Legal News
Men's Journal
The Progressive
Popular Science
Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords

Letter to Jodie upon receiving the bad news

submitted by on April 25, 2011

Dearest Sweet Wife: Today, April 16th, I have 1,188 days to go until my release date of July 9th, 2014. That includes my 235 days good time credit, so I have to hope I can maintain that good standing to get out by then. That's 38 months and 3 weeks away, a long time, no doubt, but it was once 60 months. And before that there was five years where you and I anticipated the inevitable extradition and incarceration with anxiety and unspoken dread.

All our time together since you and I became intimate exactly seven years ago this week has been tinted with the certain knowledge I would be going to jail. When you and I got involved in April of 2004, I was facing charges of passing one joint in Saskatoon, a charge that kept me in jail five days just to obtain bail the month before, March 2004. I had been on a university speaking tour across Canada, and after speaking at the University of Saskatchewan campus, 40 of us went to smoke a few joints in the park beside the Bessborough Hotel where I was staying. We were all nestled in the Vimy Ridge memorial pavilion, honouring the soldiers who died in the infamous WW1 battle (fighting for "our freedom" as they say). After we finished, a police officer came by, said he smelled smoke, and asked a 23-year old university student, "Did Mr. Emery pass you the joint?" Yes, the student replied.

On August 19th, 2004, I was convicted of trafficking that one joint, and much to both our shock, was sentenced to three months, 92 days, in Saskatoon Correctional Center. My time there is well documented, and you should resurrect some of the choice jail blogs that I made throughout my time there, especially so they don't get lost into the cybersphere forever, as those were some of the best writings I had ever done up to that time. Remember, that is where we fell completely in love, if we weren't already, because each night I would furiously write my thoughts and politics from 10pm to 2am each night, and then after my job in the jail was done from 8am to 2:30pm – I was the janitor of the prison administration center where much of that staff worked, paid $5 a day, the top wage in the inmate job hierarchy – I called Chris Bennett of Pot-TV collect and he would record my voice narrating my writings of the night before. He would put this on a CD and hand it to you, and each night you would painstakingly listen to the disc, line by line, and type it up so it could be read on the internet.

Just as my newsletters I wrote at D. Ray James were read by the staff there, at Saskatoon Correctional, all the staff would read my jail blogs of my time there. When I was vacuuming the carpets around the staff, I would spy out of the corner of my eye them reading the latest entries. It was a passionate retelling of each day there, and all the political, emotional revelations that were going on. A lot seemed to happen in the 62 days there. I went in to court on August 19th, and I thought I would get a $500 fine, but instead was stunned when the judge, after a long speech condemning my bad influence on the community, gave me 3 months. The last words I said as I was handcuffed and lead away immediately after sentencing was, "Three months for one joint!!!????" It was a blazing hot summer day outside that August 19th.

I was released on October 19th into a beautiful snowy blizzard. Your taxi to pick me up was an hour late because of the bad roads. It was cold and the snow fell relentlessly, but there are few days in my life when I was happier. You were there to pick me up at the prison with Dana and Rebecca, and you accompanied me to the various TV and radio stations to give my comments on my highly publicized release. I savoured the food in four different restaurants that day, and then by mid-afternoon, I could wait no longer and we made love in the hotel. I remember that evening I was in the hotel computer room, doing my email, you sitting beside me, and I was speaking on my phone and said "I just got out of jail", then, noticing a person on the computer beside me, put my hand on his shoulder and said to him, "Don't worry, it was nothing unsavoury", and he turned around and said, "I know." It was Canadian musician Matthew Good, performing that night in Saskatoon, staying at the same hotel, also checking his email.

US transfer application rejection letterUS transfer application rejection letterI bring this jail memory up because yesterday I received the dreadful, but not wholly unexpected, DENIAL of treaty transfer from the US Department of Justice.

I know you had sincere strong hopes that both governments would accept my transfer application. I certainly qualified in all of the criteria set out in the DOJ guidelines, and I had unprecedented political support in Canada – a Senator, 14 Members of Parliament, a Member of the BC Legislature, four city councillors, two mayors, and at least one State Representative. Those are just the elected officials we are aware of whose endorsement for transfer we have copies of. Yet I was refused because of the "seriousness of my offense" and "serious law enforcement concerns".

Additionally, it would appear my constant critiquing of the US penal system in my newsletters was inferred as a reason for the refusal, as the DOJ referred to my "actions within my control" that caused them to deny me.

DEA chief Karen Tandy always said my arrest was political, in fact, in her statement issued the day of my arrest, she doesn't actually mention my so-called crime of selling seeds to consenting adults, because that, juxtaposed with being one of the top 46 most wanted in the world, would sound outrageous and absurd. Instead she railed on repeatedly about my political 'crimes' in opposing the US federal government war of cannabis.

DEA Head Karen Tandy's statement on MarcDEA Head Karen Tandy's statement on Marc

"Today's DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement.

"His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today.

"Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General's most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada.

"Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on."

When I called you and told you the upsetting news about my transfer application being rejected, you were thunderstruck. I know it was a shock and disappointment, and of course, we both know it's further punishment because of my life's work in repealing marijuana prohibition, and for the millions of dollars – not hundreds of thousands as Tandy stated, but millions of dollars – I contributed to the US, Canadian and worldwide repeal movements, and my pride in doing so.

We have no choice but to channel our indignation into the movement. I expect every soldier in our great cause to do their duty. I hope our American friends and supporters will appeal to hold "OBAMA: FREE MARC EMERY" signs, banners, etc. at every opportunity at every rally, gathering, website, Facebook profile, meeting, town hall, sports event, and wherever people gather. I enjoin them to begin a campaign to write the President and urge him to pardon me.

I also urge my American friends to support the Presidential nomination campaigns of Congressman Ron Paul and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. These two men are great men, fully behind the repeal of cannabis prohibition, and do not retreat from saying so. They need our full support, in primary votes, in campaign contributions, in volunteer efforts, fundraising, and sign carrying. I cannot stress this too much. Ron Paul was the real man of Hope in 2008, but the false Hope was elected instead. Ron Paul is the greatest man of our time, a champion of the Constitution and has opposed every aspect of the drug war since first elected to Congress in 1974. He is co-sponsor of bills legalizing personal possession of cannabis , industrial hemp, medical marijuana, the Truth in Trials Act, ending the Drug Czar's budget – simply every aspect of the federal drug war, Ron Paul has opposed it. [Marc's massive study of all US Congress votes for Cannabis Culture Magazine #63 showed that Ron Paul was the #1 supporter of our culture. View that article here.]

It is my fervent hope that the Republican Presidential ticket for 2012 will be Ron Paul & Gary Johnson as President/Vice-Presidential nominee. Ron Paul is an incredibly decent, honest, ethical man, an intellectual giant and a down-to-earth person. There simply has never been a better candidate for the trust of the people in the last 50 years for the office of President. For our people, our cannabis culture, there simply is no one who comes close. Jodie, if our American people want to honour my life-long struggle to secure their freedom in the face of this prohibition tyranny, they MUST support Ron Paul in his bid for President. [Read more about Ron Paul's stance on cannabis and the drug war here, here, here, and here.]

My Canadian people must commit themselves to voting in the May 2nd Canadian federal election. It is vital to punish the Conservatives for both extraditing me, and persisting in bringing in legislation to impose mandatory minimum jail sentences and other cruel punishments upon the cannabis culture. Most young people do not vote; this has had, and will have, tragic consequences if that happens May 2nd. I recommend all young people, all Canadians reading this, vote at the earliest advanced poll they can find for their riding, before May 2nd. They must vote for the candidate with the greatest chance of defeating the Conservative. In English Canada, this means voting Liberal or NDP, in French Canada, this means voting for the Bloc or Liberal. This is no time to vote Green; that alas, only helps the Conservative. Certainly, it is not the time in our culture's history, in our nation's history, to fail to vote. Think "FREE MARC EMERY – IMPRISON STEPHEN HARPER" and get out and vote.

If they need a push, Jodie, beg them to read my most recent essay, amongst the best works of writing I have ever done, "A Visit by the Grand Inquisitor Himself on the Eve of an Election Call". If they don't realize who the Grand Inquisitor in the story is, Jodie, please tell them. Whatever people think of Michael Ignatieff or Jack Layton, they are not evil men. Stephen Harper is evil and death, to our culture particularly, and to Canada certainly. [See "10 Reasons to oppose the Harper candidate in your riding" from for a great list of why Harper is such a threat to Canada.]

As for us, I hope our wonderful supporters who have been so caring, loving and generous to myself and you will continue to be so kind, you will need the financial help so you can visit every two weeks in Mississippi, and I will need the great uplifting letters I continue to receive. 38 months and three weeks IS a long time, but it is made endurable by the gifts of love and respect I receive from those who take the time to show their support, consideration and understanding.

Send mail or money to Marc

Most of all, my dear sweet Jodie, without you I would be lost, forlorn, and ever so lonely. You are my rock, my pride, you have exceeded all my expectations and have become one of the most respected activists for our glorious cause. Every day you impress me and hundreds of thousands of others by your dedication, passion and eloquence. I live on through you and am dearly proud that you bear my name, Mrs. Jodie Emery. I pray for your well being, and I am not a religious man, but those positive affirmations to the universe make me feel better, and I can only hope that many others will do what they can to help you, when and how they can do so.

I remain, Your honoured husband,
Grateful I have so much, under these circumstances, to still be thankful for,

The Jodie Emery Show – April 21, 2011

submitted by on

Marc is now in Yazoo City, Mississippi — please send him letters! — and we all missed him at the annual Vancouver 4/20 event on April 20th… but we had a massive FREE MARC banner on stage to remember him. Vancouver had a tremendously successful protest festival, bigger and better than ever before, and the media got out the FREE MARC EMERY and VOTE on MAY 2nd messages. Jodie also shares her voter registration card and explains how to get out and VOTE on May 2nd!

MARC EMERY #40252-086
P.O. BOX 5888


The Jodie Emery Show – April 14, 2011

submitted by on

420 is happening on Wednesday next week! Are you celebrating our culture and taking a stand for our freedom? BIG NEWS in Canada with a major court decision! And Jodie has prison photos from her last visit with Marc in Georgia, as he's in Oklahoma waiting to be moved to Mississippi. Go to and sign up to find out who you should vote for in the upcoming federal election on MAY 2nd, MONDAY so we can stop the Conservatives from sending us all to prison and destroying Canada!

Marc’s Prison Newsletter #1 (Blog #24)

submitted by on January 29, 2011
[Editor’s note: Find out more about Marc Emery, including how to help bring him home to Canada, and how to send him a letter, at Marc also writes regular blogs, which are posted at and]
January 10-17th 2011: I have had many complaints about this concentration camp for foreigners. No US citizens are incarcerated here, where nothing ever seems to improve. But one aspect of my situation has gotten better.
The photocopier for inmates is finally available for use after this place has been operating 3 months. My fingers are so aching from writing five or six 8-10 page letters every day that I have decided to type up the whole story so I can mail it to people and add personalized parts at the end. I am falling behind in my correspondence; I’ve about 35 to 40 people I want to get back to but it’s not possible, so I hope this new format will suffice to keep them informed.
Nothing at D. Ray James, this private prison run by GEO Group, ever can be an exclusively good thing, so while the photocopier is functioning, the typewriters have not had correctable ribbon for 3 weeks now, so typos will abound this original hand-written newsletter, and there is little I can do about it.
This typewriter is vintage 1983. I hadn’t seen a typewriter for over 20 years until I got to D. Ray James. Even though US citizens in a “low” security prison have access to email (hours a day), computers, word processors, and printers, that is far too much for the ‘foreigner scum’ housed here at DRJCI. My apologies in advance for numerous typos in this letter I am unable to correct. [Note from Jodie Emery: typos and errors have been corrected for this online version.]
My job here at D. Ray James is to keep the inmate reading library in good order, straighten the shelves, prevent theft, keep the noise level down, and try to encourage the powers that be to spend some money on obtaining current books and magazines. The lady that is the Head of Library Services is Doctor Davis.
I was dismissed from this job on December 20th, 2010 because I love the library too much to see it dysfunctional. Not a single book or magazine in the English Language has been acquired in 3 months since D. Ray James Correctional Institution opened “for business” on October 4th 2010. There were 20 or so beat up magazines from July and August 2010 (although the only copy of Rolling Stone Magazine was from August 2009) and about 7 Spanish magazines (for about 1,000 Spanish-speaking inmates!). The library is made up of 3,332 books (I did the official inventory), 2,930 in English, all 10-40 years old, beat-up beyond belief, decrepit, ex-library, obsolete. There are 400 books total in Spanish. These were acquired when the prison opened, but are largely classical novels. That is the only purchase I have seen this facility make for the library.
So I ordered magazine & book purchasing catalogs. I, with the kindly librarian, Mr. Folk (not a real librarian; he actually applied to be head of security, but they made him the librarian instead – and he has since retired) giving me permission, filled out requisition forms to order magazine subscriptions. I was told by Mr. Folk to order 20 subscriptions to popular magazines.
One day, Dr. Davis came in and was alarmed by a library aide (me) filling out the GEO Group Requisition forms. I nonetheless read her the magazines I had chosen: Car Craft, The Sporting News, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, TV y Novellas, National Geographic… “Oh we aren’t getting National Geographic,” Dr. Davis said. “That’s way too sexually explicit. I know what the inmates are looking for when they read National Geographic. No, we won’t be subscribing to that.”
“But” I responded, slack jawed, “National Geographic is the single most subscribed magazine by libraries the world over. Every elementary school has a subscription to National Geographic.”
“Well, we won’t be subscribing to it here. Way too sexually explicit.”
It’s noteworthy that National Geographic is specifically EXEMPTED in Bureau of Prison Policy and Procedure from being considered indecent even if it does show aboriginal tribes with exposed nipples or genitalia (which isn’t common anyway). So that’s the kind of mind-set of the HEAD of Education and Library Services.
The next day, my personal subscription copy of National Geographic arrived with “King David and His Times” on the front cover, perfect for backward southeast Georgia, with articles inside on the 12th century Christian church architecture of Spain. No naked aboriginals anywhere to be found. So I put it up on the magazine rack, and it is without question the most popular magazine amongst the inmates.
We have not received any magazines through subscriptions by the institution since the time Dr. Davis took the magazine subscription requisition form. Then, as you might be aware, I had Jodie announce to my Facebook supporters – now numbering over 35,000 – Marc Emery’s D. Ray James Library Resuscitation Program. Since this penny-pinching place won’t improve the library, I took it upon myself to do it. I asked supporters to send me like-new current magazines, and they did. Dozens of them. I asked for contemporary Spanish-language novels and fans responded by sending dozens of them, and over 100 books in English. I was sent current law texts, hardcover Spanish to English dictionaries (the library – incredibly – had none), and large pictorial books, all for donation to the inmate library.
Then the people working here started going on the internet, and they learned of my plan to improve the library despite the best effort to keep the inmates in the dark and stupid, without any current reading material (except the atrocious newspaper, USA Today), and dismissed me after 100 items for donation to the library arrived. The mailroom stopped me from receiving any books or magazines. They rejected numerous letters sent to me. They cut off my phone access over the Christmas Holidays from December 22nd to 27th, 2010, as they did to every Canadian here, and some Canadians had not even had their phone access restored 16 days later (but more of that D. Ray James perfidy later). In short, my effort to do what this institution refuses to do – make the law library and reading library viable and current – was stymied and I was punished for caring too much about the inmates’ welfare. It’s clear the people who run this facility do not care, and want the library to be moribund and of little use to inmates.
In the law library, I am still doing paralegal work. I have supplied the other paralegals, a team of 4 other inmates, with information and texts and newsletter subscriptions and contacts on the outside to help us because the institution here provides no resources other than a clunky version of Lexus/Nexus, a program that will show all existing federal statutes. The five paralegals do virtually all the documents, inquiries, motions, appeals, grievances, requests, for all the 1,000 inmates, who largely don’t speak English, and very few write credibly in English. This is a huge task, to which they get paid 12 cents an hour (in my case) up to 40 cents an hour (in the case of Guy, a Pakistani-born British man who has a college education).
Of course, we can’t use a computer for all these formal documents! We have to use these ancient, obsolete typewriters, using non-correctable ribbon. Using the word processor, which is here, connected to a printer, which is here, would be a standard at every “Low” security prison for US citizen inmates, but we foreigners are too contemptible to be entrusted with the word processor so all our work for the inmates has to be done on these ridiculously time-consuming typewriters. Even though every one of the inmates is here for a non-violent offense, many are just illegal residents within the United States, working without permits. We are treated like we are in a medium-high security prison.
I was dismissed on December 20th, 2010, but on January 6th, 2011 I was reinstated. The warden was away for 2 weeks, and on his first day back he saw me. He said, “Emery, you shouldn’t have been fired from the Library. You’re reinstated.”
“Excellent, Sir,” I said. “There are issues with the mail room I’d like to discuss. My mail is being rejected, books are restricted to me –”
“Let’s talk about that later,” he said. “Right now, can you tell your people to stop the emails and phone calls to my office and GEO Offices in Boca Raton?”
So, I’m back in the library, and at some point I can donate books and magazines to the library. I’ve never figured out the reason the top brass forbid inmates from giving books and their own subscriptions to the library. The library is, after all, for the inmates, it is common practice at any other prison. It’s all about control here. Any initiative here by the inmates is a threat to their control mentality. That’s the whole reason. They do not have any rationally grounded reason. At first it was some invented rule about the Dept. of Justice forbidding donations, but in reality it’s just that donations require a bit of 30-second paperwork, which I did when I donated any book or magazine. But it’s all about control really.
The library is unfortunately extremely pathetic. All the books are beat-up, decrepit condition ex-library books 10-40 years old. They are obsolete, largely book club fiction hardcovers. There are, inexplicably for a male-only prison, about 300 Harlequin romance novels; one of the biggest – if not the biggest – category in the library. The library hasn’t spent a dime on any new magazines since opening, so the dozen or so that have survived from summer of 2010 are falling apart now. In December there were 15 magazines that were current once my donations from people like you started coming in: Rolling Stone, National Geographic, Runners World, Dog World, Time, Beautiful British Columbia, Newsweek, and others. Donations were the only source of current material, other than the atrocious USA Today. I would donate my personal daily New York Times for actual newspaper content.
I’m going to lend around any magazines I get, but the mailroom has me on this bizarre program that in order for me to receive books I have to mail out an equal number of books. So on Tuesday, I’ll go to the mailroom, and pick up to 5 books, but I have to bring 5 books back to the mailroom to be mailed to my friend Loretta Nall. In any other prison, I could just donate to the library, give them away or put them in storage in my property, but not at DRJCI. There is no policy or procedure in their own book of rules specifying this; it’s just made up and applies only to me, as no other inmate is required to do this. But as I shall point out later, there is a whole routine of discrimination against the Canadians here by our American overlords.
[Note from Jodie: Marc has been told that the 5-book rule no longer applies, and he is now getting all of his mail and books, but only because the warden spoke to the mail room. Please keep sending mail. Address at]
The Canadians, being from an English-speaking country with a modicum of civilization, know what’s rational and normal in these circumstances, and are all bitching and complaining about the bizarre conditions here and about the unequal treatment we are receiving in this concentration camp for non-US citizens. A full comparison of the differences in treatment for Canadians in the US Federal Prison system vs. how an American is treated in a US Prison comes later. Canadians know it’s wrong and we speak out.
The Hispanics, for now, know that there is little they can do about any inequities, so they tolerate them. But by summer there will be 2,500 inmates, and right now Georgia is cool in winter. When it gets hot and humid in summer, day after day, and this institutional insanity carries on, we shall see what they will and will not tolerate.
Starting on Monday, January 10th, I’ll be getting the reading library in order. It’s a mess now. The shelves haven’t been straightened. There is no method for tracking down overdue books, and many books loaned out are overdue. I get most of the paralegal books and newsletters so I’ll continue to help various inmates but that will fall to Guy, Darren, Miguel, and Eugenio to do, although many inmates come to me because they’ve seen fellow inmates get their paperwork done by me.
I had a visit from Richard Malloy Barnes, the staff lawyer for Georgia NORML. He drove 8 hours from Atlanta largely just to meet me and see how I was doing. But I asked him if he would be our prison lawyer at pro-bono rates, maybe $60 or $70 an hour, to send letters to the prison in matters of extreme neglect or obstruction of clearly defined legal rights. I figure a good letter taking 30 minutes could be sent to the prison here on a really egregious matter. For example, there is an inmate where who had his dentures lost by GEO last June, now 7 months ago. He has put in 9 requests to have his dentures replaced, but even though GEO Group lost them, they have still been unwilling to replace them. Now, after 9 refusals, GEO Group at D. Ray James Correctional Institution is saying that because he is now less than a year to go on his sentence, they don’t have to replace them! Meanwhile, his gums are in pain from 7 months of trying to eat without his dentures, and swollen too. The prospect of going another eleven months without dentures is very discouraging for him. Yet that’s what GEO Group (DRJCI) is telling him. So I looked up dental care court precedents in my Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual, a fabulous 900+ page huge tome by John Boston, and found out that “willful indifference” in the case of serious dental need – “serious” meaning there is pain and swelling of the gums – constitutes an actionable negligence. This fellow, having done 7 months now without dentures, now constitutes a willful negligence; to go another eleven months makes it a certainty. On his last grievance form, I attached the relevant court cases and law to underscore his request. Even if they didn’t lose his existing dentures, they are obligated to maintain his dental regime of adequate dentures.
In an FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) for US citizens, this would not even be a problem. It would be a routine issuance of dentures. For us foreigner scum in the US Federal System, all these for-profit prisons we are warehoused in care about is spending as little money on us as possible. There is one doctor here for 1,100 inmates, and one dentist. As you’ll see in the chart that follows, we are deprived of virtually every amenity, opportunity or facility that Americans in the US Federal System get.
So I asked lawyer Barnes if he could send some letters on behalf of prisoners here who really need a little outside help, and I would have my supporters try to raise $1,500.00 or so to retain him to do these letters and some follow-up. “It’s got be cheap,” I said. So we’re going to discuss these things further, but I think having a Georgia lawyer keeping an eye on this prison and the inmates in here is a good idea if it can be done inexpensively. If you are interested in helping with a financial contribution to legal representation on behalf of the inmate population here at D. Ray James Correctional Institution, email my wife and discuss how you can make a $25.00 or $50.00 donation to this retainer.
I’ve received many legal texts thanks to my friend Dana Larsen. Paralegal Procedure, Burtons Legal Thesaurus, a US Jailhouse Lawyers’ Manual, Prisoner Self-Help Litigation Manual, and subscriptions to Prison Legal News (see their website at The US Jailhouse Lawyers Manual is an excellent primer for understanding and doing writs of Habeas Corpus, despite there being 178 typographical errors in the first 50 pages of the book. Yes, I said 178 errors; it’s self-published I think, and maybe he put the first rough draft disc in the printer, but I hope to send him my edit and maybe I can get an editor credit in the next edition.
A writ of Habeas Corpus, a term seldom used in Canada (an American legal term that does, however, stem from British common law), is a demand to be in court requiring the state/authorities of the prison to demonstrate that the prisoner’s detention follow the letter of the law/rule of law. It is a mechanism to seek relief, from the court, of unlawful or unjust conditions, treatment, or detention. So I learned in this book when an inmate can file a writ of Habeas Corpus. The courts require an inmate, for example, to exhaust all internal remedies via the internal grievance process. D. Ray James is sneaky in that regard. Many times you file a form or grievance, the staff here simply do not answer back. What are you going to do? This is a rogue facility. They often don’t even make the proper forms available so you cannot file a proper grievance. Then they didn’t have a photocopier available so you couldn’t make copies of your documents.
It’s very complicated, all the forms, the grievance process, etc. Considering 97% of inmates here are non-English speaking and hardly literate in English, that makes the paralegal advisers very valuable. Most staff here at D. Ray James Correctional Institution do not know the correct procedure to recommend to any inmate requiring a grievance form. All appeals about the treatment of an inmate here go to GEO Group, not the Bureau of Prisons, so there is no government agency that oversees these grievances or requests. It’s handled as a business or corporate matter, incredibly. I believe the only real way to get any help for inmates is media exposure, outside pressure, getting the truth out to the Canadian and American public. I think most Canadians are surprised to find out that Canadians in the US Federal Prison System are ghettoed into a concentration camp completely different from what US citizens in the US Federal System experience.
I’ve gotten all these great books on jailhouse lawyering from my friend Dana Larsen, who is currently campaigning very seriously for the leadership of the British Columbia New Democratic Party. It’s a quixotic campaign centered on Dana’s sound views on repealing marijuana prohibition. I fear Mike Farnsworth will be the next leader of the BC NDP. Farnsworth is a prohibitionist; he has always parroted the ‘more cops, more laws, more prisons, more punishment’ mantra that the BC Liberal Party and upstart BC Conservative Party already advocate. The only ideological alternative in the case of Farnsworth taking over the BC NDP leadership would be the BC Green Party, who seem to be poorly led by Jane Sterk, a hard-to-like, prickly matron of a leader who clearly dislikes people and politics, and certainly does little to improve her party’s standing with the people of British Columbia. Ineffectual as leader, she may as well be invisible. In the 20 months since the most recent BC provincial election, her distant personality and her lack of any common touch, along with inaction and lethargy, have made the BC Greens irrelevant and a non-factor in BC Politics, even though the brand itself is polling 12%. My wife Jodie is on the executive council of the BC Greens but she has become somewhat disillusioned. Sterk is certain to be ignored in the next election, trounced on the day of the vote, which could be this spring or this fall if a provincial election is called. It’s a huge missed opportunity that the BC Greens cannot take advantage of the political vacuum that exists in BC right now. With both the BC Liberals and NDP searching for new leaders, and the Greens as the third party of BC (the Conservatives are just starting up), no one has captured the public imagination from either party. After the BC Greens get no results in the next election, Sterk will have to resign and then the BC Greens will have only one more opportunity to get a leader with charisma, gravitas, vision, toughness and an enthusiasm for campaigning virtually non-stop. Plus some good ideas that contrast with the NDP/Liberal line, and a vision that can be clearly articulated to the voters of BC. It may take a generation to alter the way we treat the environment and the planet, so the BC Greens should focus on what can be done immediately in the field of social justice in appealing to voters. That means police reform, ending prohibition, more civilian oversight, a viable and accessible citizen initiative process that cannot be undermined by the legislature, more choice in schooling, giving more power back to the people, empowering the cynical mass of citizens who are weary of government being the problem when the solutions stare at us.
I did have a visit with MLA (member of the provincial Legislative Assembly) Guy Gentner, on Sunday, January 2nd. This thoughtful and intelligent elected representative from British Columbia (NDP – North Delta) was visiting his daughter in Gainesville, Florida, when he announced in a newspaper interview he was planning to visit me while in Florida. It took him two hours to drive here, two hours to drive back, and he spent four hours with me. We spoke of the conditions here at this peculiar place, and private prisons more generally. I supplied him with my chart outlining the discrimination faced by Canadians in the US Federal system, and urged him to take up the view that while Canadians are being treated in this segregated manner, no Canadian should ever be extradited from Canada to the United States. Prosecute them in Canada until such a time when Canadians receive the identical same regime in the US prison system as Americans. We discussed various things: the ruinous policies of prohibition, the conditions for the ten Canadians here, and our activist/political backgrounds. It was a serious talk with much discussed and I was honored to have such a gentleman take 9 or 10 hours out of his holidays to investigate my current circumstances.
So, I explained to Mr. Gentner some of the differences between what Americans receive in the way of services and amenities compared to what is provided for Canadians in the US Federal system. Firstly, all US citizen federal inmates are housed in Dept. of Justice/Bureau of Prisons facilities, subject to oversight by the courts and Dept. of Justice policy and procedure.
All Canadians, once sentenced, are housed in for-profit prisons run by GEO Group or Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which don’t have to adhere to BOP policy and procedure, have little oversight by the Dept. of Justice/BOP, and whose primary imperative is warehousing inmates at the lowest possible cost. These private prisons are contracted by the US Dept. of Justice for the 20 facilities that house foreigners exclusively, even though the cost to the taxpayer is no less than the cost of housing a US Citizen in a BOP facility.
One of the most glaring inequities for Canadians is that all Americans in the US federal prison system have Corrlinks email. At $3.00 per hour (at no cost to the taxpayer), all US citizens in a federal prison have email, hours a day, with up to 30 correspondents. (Correspondents can be added or deleted). This is extremely important for communication with loved ones, and accessing news and legal material, because both Canadian and Americans only receive 300 minutes of phone time in total for a whole month. Most months, it’s less than 10 minutes a day! This is way too little time. But when an inmate has access to hours of email a day, it makes a huge difference. Currently, sentenced Canadians have no access to email, while all federal American inmates in the corrections system have access to email.
There is no exercise equipment here of any kind. Americans in every federal prison facility have treadmills, steppers, and other equipment (in each unit’s gym). There are no plans to bring in exercise equipment here. There are only the most rudimentary courses or vocations available here. In a US federal prison for American inmates, courses are plentiful and accredited, with accredited instructors also required. For Canadians and others here, the instructors are not accredited. Nor are the courses accredited. Currently, DRJCI is offering welding classes, horticulture, and culinary arts course, but these are largely bogus course with little relevant skill-building going on. Canadians have real difficulties putting money into a Canadian inmate’s commissary account here. Americans can have their family send money orders or wire money via Western Union, using their credit cards or cash. Canadian families cannot send money orders, nor use Western Union, nor can Canadian families of Canadian inmates use a Canadian-based VISA or MasterCard. Canadian families must travel to the USA to buy at Wal-Mart or some such place, a US-based prepaid MasterCard or VISA or Debit Card, and then place money in their loved one’s account using the Keefe Commissary Network monopoly at, where service charges are considerable. It is commonly thought that Keefe, which supplies all the items for inmates that we buy in commissary purchases as well as the deposits to our accounts, is owned principally by the Bush Family.
American inmates sent to a Low Security FCI are largely housed in 2-man cells. The “low” my judge recommended I get sent to, Lompoc FCI, has 2-man cells. In fact, a man from Sea-Tac FDC – a 9-time bank robber using a bomb threat while robbing banks – was sent to “low” security Lompoc, replete with email, exercise equipment, outdoor visitation, and dozens of courses & vocations, while I, a political prisoner who sold cannabis seeds, am at a “low” security concentration camp for foreigners without any basic amenity American prisoners take for granted. He was sent to the nearest “low” security FCI near his home in Washington State, as Bureau of Prison requirements are that an American should be placed at a facility within 500 miles of their home (though that often doesn’t happen anyway). I am 4,000 miles from my home, requiring my wife to travel by airplane for 9 to 13 hours in flight, and up to 48 hours in total transit time getting here, as has been the case on two occasions so far. All the Canadians here are in the private prison furthest away from their home, the exact opposite situation to what is mandated for American inmates. There is no Federal facility further away from Vancouver than this corner of southeast Georgia (Florida having no Federal prisons for foreigners).
The Law Library here has Lexus/Nexus, which is the complete compilation of US law statutes. That is all. Anything else here, I have brought in: the dictionaries, paralegal procedure, jailhouse lawyer manual, Prisoners’ Self-Help Litigation Manual, newsletters, etc. Without email, we cannot make requests for assistance or legal material, addresses of government agencies, or prisoner assistance groups. With only 300 minutes and a set list of phone numbers permitted for us to call, we cannot call outside legal help to send us or provide materials. Americans therefore have a far more advantageous ability to do legal work on their and other inmates’ behalf.
The reading library is supposed to have 30-50 magazine subscriptions to provide inmates with a variety of current reading material. There are no contemporary novels or reference books in either English or Spanish. 400 Spanish books, largely classical fiction, were delivered when DRJCI became a federal prison, but nothing contemporary or illustrated was amongst these books. Essentially, the library has largely useless obsolete books and management here refuses donations from outside sources, the inmates, as well as refusing to spend money on a regular infusion of new materials. A certified librarian is required in any BOP inmate library, whereas DRJCI has a part-time teacher sit in on the library, under the controlling auspices Dr. Davis, to ensure that no progress of any kind takes place.
Foreigners have unique needs here, yet there is no way they can be accommodated. No inmate is from Georgia, so any lawyer would be extremely expensive to visit an inmate here. There is no information of treaty transfers for foreigners here, or addresses of their consulates, representatives. There is not a single legally trained individual with any experience in deportations, immigration law available to any inmate here. Without email, this becomes extremely difficult to get information, ensuring each inmate stays here as long as possible.
Americans in the Federal prison system can use word processing programs (Word, for example), and have these programs connected to printers. That is not available to Canadians here, and no explanation is ever offered, even though this is a low security facility, and none of us were convicted of computer crimes. Dr. Davis even tries to restrict the law library photocopier to “legal” material only, even though inmates are supposed to be able to buy a photocopy card, and pay 10 cents a copy. The photocopier was paid for out the inmate trust fund! Canadians must use ancient typewriters instead of word processing. Americans in US federal facilities are able to have photographs taken of themselves and their loved ones visiting on all federal holidays for a nominal cost (2 prints for $1 per photograph, up to 5 photographs, was the rule at Sea-Tac FDC). Canadians here at DRJCI have not been able to have photographs taken on Christmas or New Years, even though it requires only one inmate taking the photographs. It’s incredibly simple, but they simply don’t care here, so it doesn’t happen, like everything that ought to be provided as an inmate right for US citizens in their system.
In Federal facilities for Americans, visitation can happen in outdoor visitation areas (when weather permits). Here at DRJCI, there is no such outdoor visitation area, just a windowless room with a prison guard booth, cameras, and mirrored windows to be watched from.
In Bureau of Prisons facilities, fresh fruit is served one or two times daily, rotating between oranges, apples, and bananas. Here at D. Ray James Correctional Institution, we get the scrawniest orange imaginable once every two days. All lunch and dinner meals are virtually identical:
1) Ground up chicken or ground up beef
2) Corn product, niblets, grits or tortillas
3) A sweet cake
4) Shredded lettuce
5) Brown beans
6) White rice
Breakfast is essentially shredded potatoes and tasteless scrambled eggs with tortilla. Occasionally grits (creamed corn) too. If they don’t have a scrawny orange to give out, they give us canned mandarin slices or peach slices, but neither contain any nutrients. Fresh fruit or vegetables are almost never to be seen here. Nor can we buy fresh fruit or vegetables as can be done at other federal facilities (for example, Taft and Moshannon Valley sell vegetables in the commissary).
Americans in the Federal system have upright metal lockers. Canadians have two bins under their bunk to put all their possessions in. They had lockers in this prison when GEO took over this facility. They took the lockers out! Americans qualify for early release, home release, and drug rehabilitation sentence reductions, none of which is available to Canadians stuck in this system. Canadians working a long day in the kitchen, a long 8-hour day, get paid 12 cents an hour. Most inmates here get 12 cents an hour for their work. Americans get 40 cents to $1.40 an hour in their facilities. The staff here is almost always unaware of their own D. Ray James rules on procedures. For example, an inmate is trying to get married, and has been getting the runaround for three months. Yet the rules by GEO in their rule book are clear: the case manager puts together the request, confirms the fiancée is willing come to the facility to marry, forwards the request to the warden, who, if there are no security concerns, then arranges for the Justice of the Peace to come perform the ceremony. The inmate pays all costs of the Justice of the Peace. It’s simple, but they just can’t be bothered here, like just about everything. The mailroom, for example, makes up all its rules. There is no procedure or policy that is in the D. Ray James Correctional Institution policy and procedure book dealing with mailroom procedure.*
*Note by Catharine Leach (supporter and transcriber of this newsletter for online publication): the Warden of DRJCI, Joe Booker, affirmed to me in an email (after I sent a letter to him complaining of Marc’s mail issues and other treatment) that DRJCI follows established rules and regulations for mail policy, namely the Mail Management Manual 5800.10.
In an Americans-only federal “low” security prison, all toilets are in the cells or have doors on them in the range, and showers have doors on them. In my 64-man dorm, there is no privacy of any kind, and certainly no doors or curtains on the showers or toilets.
Yet the US taxpayer pays the same or more in taxes per inmate to house a Canadian as an American, but the executive and shareholders of these private prison corporations are instead pocketing the money.
The Bureau of Prisons, their mission statement (Policy 551.90) states: “Bureau staff shall not discriminate against inmates on the basis of race, religion, NATIONAL ORIGIN [Note from Jodie: emphasis Marc’s own], sex, disability, or political belief. This includes the making of administrative decisions and providing access to work, housing, and programs.”
Considering DRJCI is a ghetto completely based on apartheid of national origin, this mission statement is fraudulent on its face. Wages paid to Americans are greater, housing is clearly better, and programs (email, exercise equipment, music, law & reading libraries, vocations, etc.) are all clearly superior for Americans.
Currently, this prison houses 1,100 inmates, adding 300 monthly until capacity of 2,500 is reached in August. Of the 1,100 inmates currently warehoused here: 1,025 are Hispanic – 800 Mexicans, 75 Hondurans, 50 Cubans, 50 Guatemalans, 15 Salvadorans, 15 Colombians, 10 Argentinians, 5 Peruvians – and 40 are English-language born – 20 from the Caribbean (Jamaican, Bahamian, Dominican), 10 Canadians, 3 Nigerians, 1 from England, 1 from South Africa, 2 from Guyana, 1 from Belize, 10 Asians (2 Laotians, 3 Vietnamese, 4 Chinese), 10 Europeans, and 6 Middle Easterners (1 Swede, 2 Romanians, 2 Armenians, 1 Lebanese), and we have 2 from Brazil (Portuguese-speaking) and 5 from Haiti (French).
As to the staff here, the ordinary C.O.’s (Correctional Officers), while completely untrained in BOP procedure (most have never ever worked in corrections before and receive only the most cursory on the job training here), are decent people trying to do their job as pleasantly as they can. Many admit to seeing documentaries, movies, and TV shows that I have appeared in. Very few of the regular C.O.’s show mean or hostile tendencies. Most of them are probably very nice people in regular circumstances.
The inmates here I get along with are fine also. In my 59 days here at the time of this writing, I cannot say I have had any conflicts at all with inmates or C.O.’s who do guard or supervision duty. The problem is with management and the corporate dictates that come from GEO. This place has no budget of any kind devoted to inmate amenities.
97% of the inmates speak Spanish, but because all staff is local, virtually none of the staff do. I believe there are no more than 4 staff members here who speak Spanish. There is no local lawyer or legal help for these inmates. All their attorneys are in California, Arizona, Canada, Mexico, etc. All legal work for these inmates is done by 5 English/bilingual paralegals, also inmates (I’m one of them), getting 12 cents an hour. Any legal work on appeals, motions, grievances, writs of Habeas Corpus, divorces, requests, treaty transfers, access to government services, etc. is done by us on these ancient model typewriters.
Compare the time involved for an American in a federal prison requesting information or legal information. Each email takes about 90 minutes from inmate to recipient and return, so that is 3 hours. Here at D. Ray James Correctional Institution, a request by mail to Canada takes 6 to 8 days each way, meaning what might take an American 3 hours to obtain would take me, a Canadian, possibly 15 days or longer. Americans can print out their emails and have permanent copies of them too on email printers that are available for every American. So making any kind of legal claim is much harder here for numerous reasons.
I live in a 64-man dormitory with no privacy, as I have said. All 64 of us share one microwave to cook and heat up coffee. You get line-ups! American facilities have 4 televisions per range (Spanish, sports, news, and variety). Here we have two televisions: Sports and Spanish. I watch neither. There are few if any good rock and roll radio stations in this part of the world, though 3 country western stations come in clearly, as is always so true about rural America. I was spoiled at Sea-Tac FDC, having a 2-man cell, numerous great radio stations, email (Jodie says I sent her over 1,000 emails in the 5 months I was at Sea-Tac; that shows you how important email is to an inmate!), more fruit, no weird rules on books or magazines in the mail, and my newspaper came the day of issue or the day after. Here in nowheresville Folkston, Georgia, my New York Times arrives 3 or 4 days after publication.
In my 64-man dorm, I’m one of 3 native English speakers; the Armenian and Nigerian are fluent in English. The 1 Romanian and the 60 Hispanics speak Romanian and Spanish. I have no locker, but two plastic bins under my bed for all my belongings. Quite the stuffing of belongings going on there.
An ear splitting grinding-sounding (just evil!!!) fire alarm has gone off 28 times in the 50 days I have been here. It is frightening and painful on the ears. It is always a false alarm. It has actually gone off over 70 times in total since DRJCI opened on October 7th, 2010, but they refuse to fix the defective sensor in pod 6. I have been outside or at the library on about 10 occasions when it has gone off. This is not included in the 28 times I’ve experienced it first-hand. It grinds away for 5 to 15 minutes and I always have to put my fingers in my ears to deal with it. It certainly constitutes as torture, as they refuse to fix the problem. Yet when an inmate is burning baby oil to make jailhouse ink for their illegal tattooing that goes on, the fire alarm never goes off, even though a fair bit of putrid smoke is produced (that’s how they make the black ink, from the soot of the burning baby oil!).
At least I am busy. I do lots of work I consider helpful and useful to other inmates. At this time, I can’t solicit magazines and books for donation, but I give my newspapers and magazines that I subscribe to away. Currently I have to mail out a book for every book the mailroom lets me have so I can’t very readily donate any books at this time. This whole prison has way too much razor wire, frisking, and high security behavior to call it a “low” security facility. A “low” has essentially one single fence and far more open movement than this place allows inmates. It is run like a strict medium-high security facility. I’ve had an atlas in the mail refused to me because they believe all maps will be used to plan escapes! I’ve had large books refused to me because the weight or size of them (“75 years of DC Comics” was 18” x 13” x 2” thick – large enough, the mailroom felt, to be used as a weapon). An 8” x 10” hand-made Christmas card was rejected because it was too large. Where do they get these rules? Newspaper clippings are seized. I’m limited to three magazines sent from the public every few weeks or so. Over 20 letters from correspondents were rejected without notification and returned to sender. And so on and so on.
Trevor is from Vancouver, just a few blocks from where I used to live. He’s here for cannabis in a vehicle while traveling through the USA. When his parents came to visit him from Smithers in BC, over 5,000 miles away, they arrived one day early in their rented vehicle, and decided to drive around the perimeter road that encircles the prison, so they could see what it looks like, because the road is unblocked nor is there an advisement prohibiting it. The next day, when the parents visited, prison staff noticed the vehicle the parents used as the one that drove around the perimeter road, and cut short the visit after an hour, handcuffed Trevor, accused him of plotting an escape with his parents, and put him in solitary confinement for 9 days! Of course, it took 9 days to realize their idiotic presumption was absurd on the face of it, releasing Trevor from SHU (Special Housing Unit – the “Hole”) and reinstating his parents’ visiting rights.
Shortly afterward, Trevor, like all Canadians here, lost his phone access to Canada when the prison telephone control computer “unintentionally” cancelled all Canadian phone numbers from the database. Whereas I lost 6 days over Christmas (sadistic timing you have to agree), Trevor lost his access to the 604 and 250 area codes (his family in BC) for 16 days, from December 22nd to January 7th! Trevor works for 12 cents an hour, 40 hours a week in the kitchen.
Bradley, resident of Pender Harbour, is here on a weird charge, “Theft of Honest Services”, the same charge Conrad Black had overturned in the US Supreme Court. Bradley is a fine fellow with many skills, a certified sailor, and a licensed pilot. He has been trying to take a correspondence course in advanced aviation from Ohio University’s Prisoner Correspondence course. For two months he has been refused on the basis that – you guessed it – he’ll try to escape, steal an airplane and fly back to Canada! The mailroom rejected a map of Croatia he received as part of his ingenious (non-existent) plot to escape. It’s why I had an atlas of the world seized as contraband last week when someone sent it to me in the mail. We Canadians are thought to be obsessed with escape! This is a “low” security facility whereas the maximum-security facility Sea-Tac FDC where I was at, allowed me to have detailed road maps for all fifty states (so I could advise & direct FREE MARC rallies across the USA and Canada on Sept. 18th 2010).
Randy, of New Westminster, is here on a three-year sentence for marijuana transport. When Randy arrived, DRJCI lost his paperwork so he was put in solitary confinement for 14 days until the paperwork arrived. I remember walking around the yard explaining to Randy how fucked up this place is and he said, “Oh, it doesn’t look so bad.” I said, “give it a few days, you’ll see how dysfunctional it really is.” Sure enough, each passing day, Randy became more and more annoyed at the absurdities that pass before our eyes each passing day, and then one day last week, Randy got put in the “Hole” for allegedly inciting a riot, which all witnesses say is nutty. A very disliked C.O. was pissing off all the inmates in his unit. Randy uttered to another inmate, “What a Bitch!” and so far, he’s spent 5 days in the “Hole” on that. In between his two visits to solitary confinement, Randy’s phone access to his daughters and family in Canada was “accidentally” suspended from December 22nd to January 7th, sixteen days, pretty well the only time he was out of solitary since he’s gotten here in early December.
Peter is from Aylmer, Ontario, and he is a slave in the kitchen 40+ hours a week at 12 cents an hour. By the way, if an inmate refuses to work their slave-labor job assignment, they get put in solitary confinement until they “reconsider” and go back to work. It is reputed that there are about 15 inmates in solitary for refusing kitchen work. An inmate is allowed to pay another inmate to do his kitchen job; the going rate is a one-time payment of $35 – $50 dollars, which is a bargain price to permanently avoid kitchen detail.
When an inmate arrives here, each of us is issued a pair of work boots, decidedly uncomfortable ones, but in Peter’s case he was issued two left feet as his pair of boots. When he complained that they were two left feet, that his right foot was hurting as he worked on his feet 8 hours a day, the management refused to issue him a proper right & left foot pair of boots. Eventually all his right socks developed holes in them, and his right foot was in considerable pain, but still the DRJCI refused to issue a proper set of boots. Only after eleven weeks of complaining, did the inmates in the clothing section replace the boots. Peter’s phone access to Canada, like all the Canadians here, was down during Christmas December 22nd – 27th. Peter has now worked in the kitchen three months, and after three months in one job, you are supposed to be permitted to change “assignments”, but so far they are refusing to let Peter change jobs, so desperate is this place for kitchen workers. Of course if they paid the workers properly (like American inmates get in their FCI’s), say 45 cents to $1.00 an hour, you’d have line-ups to work in the kitchen.
And so it goes. Me, I keep busy, writing five or six letters to correspondents daily, reading voraciously when I’m not writing or working in the library. I’m 80% through Keith Richard’s autobiography “Life”. I just finished reading all the material I received from Prison Legal News (online you can see their stuff at Next up after the Richard’s autobiography is “On the Road to Freedom (A Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Era)”, and then “Dumbing Us Down, the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling”, then the “Dark Tower” graphic novel, and then “The Flag: An American Biography”, which is a history of the development of the US flag from its earliest incarnations.
I read perhaps the best graphic novel not written by Alan Moore, originally from 1993, called Marvels (#0 – #4), a brilliant painterly reinterpretation of the Marvel Comics stories of their superhero universe from 1939 to 1975, seen through the eyes of an ordinary human observer. Another wonderful comic I enjoyed was a two-part “Enemy Ace” comic by Garth Ennis and Russ Heath. Strange and beautiful was this very exciting reinterpretation of Shakespeare in a graphic novel called “Kill Shakespeare”, very original and surprising and beautifully illustrated. I read “The Return of the Supreme”, another collection of terrific Alan Moore stories. This Alan Moore fellow wrote the greatest comic book stories ever, full of references throughout all his work (though especially in “Promethea” and “Supreme”) of the artists and styles of the comic books of the golden age (1939 – 1947), the EC Comics period (1950 – 1956), the Adventure and science-fiction pulps, the cartoon comic strips of newspapers, the late 50’s DC Comics universe (Supreme), and of course the 60’s Marvel Comics world. My favorite Alan Moore comics, highly recommended, are: Promethea Vol. 1-6 (#1 – #36 in comic book form), Tom Strong Vol. 1-4, #6, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1 & 2, Supreme and Return of Supreme. If you are a comic book historian and scholar as I am (I collected comic books and sold vintage 1940’s, 1950’s, 1960’s Marvel, DC, EC, comics, science-fiction and adventure pulps, newspaper comic strips and Sunday Color pages from 1925 – 1955 and managed to meet Neal Adams, Jim Steranko, Mike Kaluta, Len Wein, Jeff Jones, Vaughn Bode, and other great comic book creators in the 1970 to 1974 golden era of comic book collecting) – this is a wonderful tribute to that era. Watchmen – still terrific after three readings.
Best books I’ve read in prison so far would have to be the hero-smashing biography of John Lennon, “The Many Lives of John Lennon” by Albert Goldman, and “Hitch-22”, the memoir by Christopher Hitchens, timely in view of Hitchens’ current and potentially fatal battle with esophageal cancer that affected Hitchens immediately after its publication. Hitchens is simply one of the most erudite and entertaining writers of English prose in the world today. Vanity Fair columns of Sept/Oct/Nov 2010 addressing his cancer and the reactions to it are hilarious and poignant.
My magazine subscriptions have been slow to get transferred to the gulag here from Sea-Tac FDC. MacLean’s, National Geographic, The Hockey News, The Economist have all finally been rerouted here, but no sign yet of Rolling Stone, Atlantic, Harper’s, Mother Jones, Reason, Discover and a few others that escape my memory.
It is my supporter base that got my library job back and it is my supporter base that protects me from retaliation by the forces of evil here. MLA Guy Gentner reiterating in two newspaper interviews that I was a political prisoner is extremely helpful.
This is my 300th day in prison on this sentence, as I write this: 66 days in Canada, and 234 days in the US. With a good time credit of 235 days, that is 535 days off 1,825 days (5 years), so if I get stuck in the US Concentration Camp system for foreigners, I have 1,290 days to go, a release date of July 7th, 2014 – 42 months away.
If I get transferred back to Canada, I qualify under current Canadian law for full parole November 16th, 2011 – this year, 10 months from today. In the Canadian federal system, a non-violent first-time offender gets parole at one-third sentence, in my case, 20 months. Of course, I’ll be on parole for 40 months after that date (Nov. 16th, 2011). So if I screw up, I would be put back in jail. But I’m retired from the seed business, and otherwise a law-abiding person, so I will be able to do my parole successfully as I was able to maintain my bail conditions (while awaiting extradition) for five years from 2005 to 2010.
But 10 months to go is far more appealing than 42 months to go. That is why I need a tremendous outpouring of support from citizens of the USA and Canada, and from elected officials in both countries, to assure that my transfer application to the US Dept. of Justice and Canadian Minister of Public Safety are approved. Instructions on the kind of letter to send are at and
It’s only fair to say some good things about this place. The inmates like me and I get along with them. The working people, the ordinary C.O.’s, are polite and try to do a good job with the often-chaotic instructions they get. The weather here, in winter, is pleasant (although it will be hot & humid and I think unbearable in summer). My Case Managers, Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Maynard, are very responsive to me and have kept all their promises so far, and have always tried to be helpful with any requests regarding visitors, and transfer paperwork. The warden is a good person too, but he’s given no budget to make changes, and I often think his subordinates try to undermine his innate sense of reasonableness.
My greatest pleasure of my existence here is getting a visit from Jodie every 2nd weekend. Your donations to her are how she can afford to visit me. Otherwise, it’s simply too expensive for us to afford. The visits are 6 ½ hours each day on Saturday and Sunday, and the upcoming weekend, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday January 17th) is a visitation day also, so I’ll get 3 days in a row of visits from Jodie!!! It requires Jodie to fly 4,000 miles from Vancouver to Jacksonville Florida, clear across the continent and back, which is grueling and exhausting for her. Sometimes, when bad weather strikes, flights get canceled and what would normally take 10 hours of flying and airport time can take 48 hours of waiting, flying, and airport processing time, as has happened twice already.
We are allowed a brief kiss at the beginning and end of each visit, and we can hold hands throughout the visit. After my visit with Jodie on December 18th, I was stopped by an officer on the walkway outside a few days later, and day before my phone access was cut off to Jodie for 6 days. “Emery, you had a visit Saturday. Was that your wife?”
“Yes, sir.” I responded.
“I was watching you on the hidden camera, and I observed your kiss at the beginning was too long. It’s supposed to be a brief kiss, not a movie kiss. I don’t think your kiss was brief.”
I was stunned. I said “BOP regulations at Sea-Tac FDC in Seattle were a kiss under 30-seconds. What do you consider brief, 10 seconds?”
“10 seconds is more like what I had in mind. But if BOP rules are 30 seconds, I’ll take that under advisement.” He responded.
I wanted to say, “If you stare at any couple kissing after a long absence, their kiss is going to seem very long because you’re intruding on a couple’s intimacy, something normally a person might be a little self-conscious of. 10 seconds will seem like a minute if you just stare at a couple clearly in love, 30 seconds probably seems like 5 minutes. After traveling 4,000 miles and spending days in planes, airports and hotel rooms, that kiss is going to have a bit of urgency to it, you know?”
Jodie was in an extended malaise, a 6-week period that I would call depression from mid-November to January 1st. The death of my seed business partner, Michelle Rainey, at age 39 from cancer, hit her very hard at the end of October. By mid-November, with the dark, gloomy, rainy Vancouver weather, her first Christmas holiday period without me in 7 years, business pressures, and extraordinarily long travel to see me, it was all getting to her. She was exhausted, sad, having a hard time getting work done, her hair was falling out, her skin irritated, her sleep disturbed. Her visit of Saturday, January 1st was full of cynicism, doom and gloom. I spend the whole visit reassuring her we’d get through this ordeal, no matter how long it took. We have support from millions (I feel), her family, our close friends, and elected officials, and it was just rest and prioritizing her immediate tasks that she needed to do.
Finally, on Friday, January 7th, I heard over the phone, an invigorated, energetic, positive and powerful optimism. I said right away, “Hey, my Jodie is back!”
She said, “I feel like I’ve come out of a 6-week depression. I feel strong again, boo, I’m feeling improved. Guy Gentner the MLA, referred to you as a political prisoner in an interview today in a newspaper. I’ll be strong for you now, Marc; I’ll get you out of there. You were strong for me, you pulled me through. So now I’ll be strong for you again.”
Each day over the last 3 days, Jodie has rested, and gotten stronger so I am very relieved. I was worried about us, and with all these stresses, I was fearful of her health and her drive being compromised. So it goes for a couple like us, under all this turmoil and challenges!
Since her visit, MLA Guy Gentner has referred to me as a political prisoner in two media interviews. That reaffirmed to Jodie that even in the political establishment, there is widespread support and sympathy for the underlying activist nature of my life’s work.
My treaty transfer paperwork is due in Washington in eleven days from writing this page. After that, the US Dept. of Justice will consider my application to transfer to the Canadian Correctional system. I would dearly love to be home in Canada this year, so please do what you can to help to that end.
The most important goals this year are, for Americans: 1) Getting legislation on the ballot in Washington State, 2) Supporting and working to make RON PAUL the Republican presidential nominee for 2012. Petitioning for signatures begins in April to make Washington state the first state in the USA to repeal all state laws restricting the personal use and cultivation of cannabis. Polls in Washington show 56% of voters support legalization of cannabis. Last year, only 195,000 signatures of the 247,000 necessary were successfully collected. In large part this shortfall was due to rainy, cold weather in April and May, and zero funding. This year Sensible Washington will be better prepared, better organized. I hope Cannabis Culture can assist the organizers in a few live-streamed moneybombs, with a target of $10,000.00 per moneybomb, in February and April. Activists from California and Colorado, two states that I’m sure will attempt ballot initiative drives for legalization in 2012, should go north to Washington state as soon as university and college is over in April. Let’s do it like they did in the 60’s, just move to Washington state for 3 months and live and breathe the life of signature-gatherer! Petition unrelentingly! Even Canadian activists should consider going to Washington from BC and Alberta to gather signatures, whether for a weekend, a week, a month, or the whole campaign!
If Washington repeals cannabis prohibition on Nov. 1st, 2011, it will have a huge impact on the success of initiatives in Colorado and California in 2012, ultimately causing a change in federal law, and the likelihood of other states passing their own repeal bills!
RON PAUL, the greatest congressman ever, a great and true libertarian, my personal hero for many, many years, a friend to all in the cannabis legalization movement, will likely announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President for 2012. Ron Paul is truly a wonderful man, a principled man, and I so enjoyed campaigning for him in 2007 and 2008 when he first sough the Republican presidential nomination. Oh, how much improved America would be today if he had been elected President November 2nd, 2008!
If you have never heard of Ron Paul, or researched his brilliant ideas and proposals and writings, you must! Then be ready to join his campaign when it is announced! For Canadians, the 4 goals in the upcoming year are 1) to stop Bill S-10, the mandatory minimum jail-time-for-drugs bill from becoming law 2) defeat the Conservatives in an election that hopefully will come soon, 3) urge all your American friends to support the Presidential aspirations of Ron Paul once he announces his candidacy, expected in early spring, and 4) please bring me home, if I can immodestly suggest this as one of your political goals for the upcoming year!
Upon my return to Canada and release from custody, I plan to run for elected office in a fully funded campaign, traveling across Canada and British Columbia extensively. I believe that whenever I am able to do this, in 2012, 2013, or 2014, once I emerge from this ordeal, my political star will finally be ascendant. I feel I will be able to capture the zeitgeist of the times. “It’s broken, let me fix it.” Clearly, our democracy is dysfunctional, much like prohibition. For over 30 years, Canadians have heard me relentlessly prescribe the correct treatment for the ills of my country, and for 30 years the voters have chosen to swallow more of the poison election after election. I believe Jodie and I together will be able to win over enough of Canada to put me in government, to finally undo so much of the damage that has been wrought on our country from the miscreants who have exploited the people’s trust.
Jodie and I will be making a huge effort upon my return, in fundraising, touring Canada, speaking, meeting with Canadians, organizing, to finally once and for all bury this prohibition and restore liberty, principle, and greatness to the country that I love. Until next newsletter,
Marc Emery #40252-086 Unit Q Pod 2
D. Ray James Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 2000
Folkston, GA
Find out more about Marc Emery at

Comparison between the conditions for US citizens in a US federal prison and a Canadian housed in a US federal prison for foreign nationals. The US Bureau of Prisons has a policy statement to the effect that there is no discrimination between US and foreigners in the custody of the US federal prison system. My comparison shows this is not true.

Low and Medium Security Facilities for US Inmates D. Ray James "Low" Security Facility for foreign inmates
• Single fence security for "Low" • Multiple fences, razor wire on every structure and fence
• Unlimited Corrlinks e-mail access ($3 an hour) • No Corrlinks, no e-mail
• Gymnasium, exercise equipment • No gym or exercise equipment
• Musical instruments available to play • No instruments available
• Money can be placed in an inmate’s account by Western Union, money orders, US based credit card • Canadians cannot use Western Union, money orders or Canadian based credit card  
• US inmates are regularly in 2-man cells • Canadians are placed in 64-man dormitories
• US inmates have doors or curtains on showers and toilets • No doors or curtains on showers or toilets. Canadian inmates have no privacy at any time
• US inmates are placed within 800 miles of family • I am 4,000 miles from my spouse at the most remote facility available for Canadians US
• Inmates have up to four televisions in common areas and often in separate rooms • Inmates have two televisions – one sports, one Spanish language
• Comprehensive current library Includes hundreds of magazines, current & back issues. • Pathetic library with books all 10-40 years old in very bad condition. For 800+ hispanic inmates, there are less than 200 books in Spanish. 50 magazines, all outdated, several months old. No money has been spent on a single new book or magazine in 10 weeks since DRJCF opened October 4
• Comprehensive law library including Federal Prisoner Handbook, many other publications, Prison Legal News • Lexus/Nexus only, on disc
• Computers with word processing capability and printers • No access to computers or printers. Inmates must use one of 3 1980s typewriters
• Photocopiers • No photocopiers
• Photographs taken of inmate and family on federal holidays • No photos taken
• Commissary purchases straight-forward and easy, often delivered to the housing unit. • Must wait outside in the rain, cold, or heat for 30-90 minutes each week for commissary
• Inmates allowed "open" movement within federal correctional facility (Low security) • Inmates rigidly controlled in their movement at all times
• Inmates have up to 50 different technical, trade vocational opportunities including electrical, computer, dentistry, business, welding, landscaping, carpentry, etc. • Nothing in trades or skilles of any kind
• Inmates can get married with ease under clearly stated BOP procedural policy • Inmates who want to marry are stalled and obstructed
• Inmates receive fresh fruit with breakfast and lunch • Inmates receive one scrawny orange every two days
• Inmates receive a variety of foods in meal menu • Inmates receive virtually the same food everyday; ground chicken (that looks like ground beef), corn, shredded lettuce, rice, beans, and tortilla. This is every lunch and dinner, with almost no other variable!
• Inmate can make collect calls to family in the US • Canadians cannot make collect calls to family in Canada. (Prepaid collect calls to one number only cost $8.50 for 10 minutes)
• Inmates have metal upright lockers to house property • Inmates must store all belongings in two boxes under bunk
• Thanksgiving meal for inmates is the best meal of the year inside the prison • Thanksgiving meal consists of two baloney sandwiches on white bread, a bottle of Sprite and a scrawny orange
• Inmates have a superior selection of commissary items at lower prices • Inmates must select commissary items with fewer choices at higher prices, from a Bush family-owned company called Keefe Commissary Network. Inmate funds must be deposited exclusively through Keefe company
• Second Chance Act (approved by Congress on 2009) allows inmates 12 months of their sentence at a halfway house, followed by 6 months of home confinement • Program not available
• Inmates receive RDAP program; drug rehabilitation program that reduces sentence by 9 months when competed • No program available
• Correctional officers maintain a discreet presence • Correctional officers every 20 feet, searching and frisking hundreds of inmates daily
• Toilets are porcelain with a wooden or plastic seat • Toilets are metal with no seat
• Inmates can work for BOP’s Unicor company , earning 29 cents an hour to $1.40 an hour • Inmates must work 40 hours a week for 12 cents an hour (for kitchen labor) to a maximum of 40 cents an hour
• Most inmates speak English • 95% of Inmates speak Spanish, staff speaks exclusively English
• Staff are trained and knowledgeable • Staff are completely untrained