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Marc Emery’s Application to Help Grow Washington’s Legal Pot

submitted by on February 25, 2013

Marc Emery cannabis plantUpon learning that the Washington State Liquor Control Board is seeking consultant applications for a legal marijuana production and distribution system, Marc wrote this tongue-in-cheek submission. Marc was extradited to and sentenced in Seattle, Washington despite operating his seed business in Vancouver, BC, Canada at all times. 

Dear Sirs and Madams of the Washington State Liquor Control Board,

Please consider my bid, or rather, application for consideration, to be a consultant in one of the four fields of marijuana expertise required by the WSLCB:

1) Product and Industry Knowledge
2) Product Quality Standards & Testing
3) Product Usage and Consumption Validation
4) Product Regulation

I understand your need to meet the voter endorsed deadline of December 2013, whereby retail offering of cannabis products are expected to be found in the current WSLCB outlets. I offer strong skills in marketing, cultivation, genetics, breeding, retail, business, working with large groups of co-workers, but my only caveat is that I am currently a guest of the US federal prison system for my peaceful and successful involvement with servicing the needs of well over 3,000 citizens of Washington state in cultivating marijuana from 1995 to 2005 (as well as millions of others throughout the United States). I do expect to be released from this inconvenient situation and repatriated back to Canada in December of this year. Perhaps you can use my resume as back-up if one of the other applicants turns to be unsuitable when you can see their capabilities (or lack thereof) at close range.

My name is Marc Emery. I am one of the world's most recognized brand names in what I am proud to say is the worldwide cannabis culture. My name is a cachet of integrity and quality among the marijuana connoisseurs, enthusiasts, cognoscenti and consumers the world over – and certainly in Washington State, to which I supplied an extraordinary range of quality genetics to thousands of citizens, including medical, commercial, household gardens, from 1995 to 2005. The Washington state District Attorney's office in their prosecution contended I was responsible for the cultivation of three million cannabis plants across the United States, through my seed sales done via postal delivery from my home Vancouver, BC, Canada.

I have been given privileged and rare access to over 300 indoor marijuana gardening projects, and over 50 outdoor and greenhouse projects, in the years from 1990 to 2009, largely as publisher and editor of 75 issues of Cannabis Culture Magazine, which I was responsible for from 1994 to 2009. In that capacity I was given enough access to these horticultural enterprises to describe them in detail in my publication. I have an understanding of horticultural techniques of every kind, including esoteric methods like swamp growing, tree-top growing, underground growing, brewery conversions, off-shore barge growing, subterranean rail-car growing, bio-dynamic growing, among others, but certainly most of my experience is in commercial mass production operations using hydroponic, soil or soilless media. I am very familiar with large conventional grow theatres using 50 to 150 thousand-watt (HPS or Metal Halide) bulbs. In my experience, typical production is 1 to 1.2 pounds (dry weight) per 1,000-watt light bulb per 60 days.

Marc Emery cannabis plants

I have supervised the breeding of 20 individual genetic varieties of cannabis as part of the largest cannabis seed distribution project the modern world has ever seen, having as many as 380 varietals of cannabis in my seed distribution catalog at the peak of my efforts.

As editor of Cannabis Culture magazine from 2004 to 2009, I edited manuscripts by horticulturalists, medical experts, scientists, historians, for the digestion of our reading audience. All 74 issues of my highly regarded magazine are online at for your review.

I have been a successful retailer since 1971, and have always employed between 20-45 people from 1996 to 2009 (when my spouse took over the reins of the business), so I am used to working harmoniously with numerous co-workers. From 1995 to July 29, 2005, when the untimely interruption by the Drug Enforcement Administration occurred, I was likely the world's largest seed distribution business, and uniquely, the only such cannabis seed distributor identified by having the proprietor's name (mine) clearly identified at all times and known to use the seed revenue to finance political activism and drug policy reform. While this no doubt contributed some incentive for my adversaries to arrest me, it also made my name a valuable brand attached to an outstanding performance record amongst the very people you will be appealing to in the Washington state marketplace. I assure you having the Emery brand integrated into your production and marketing and product development will ensure a credibility few other applicants can provide.

As I look at your situation, I understand that about 300,000 Washington state residents will be regular consumers of about one ounce a month, with up to one million tourists annually who will take advantage of Washington state's new cultural zeitgeist. This requires a retail distribution paradigm that favors variety and price breaks at all levels. I foresee demand levels of about 500,000 to 600,000 ounces (dry weight) per month required. At 16 ounces per pound this is a requirement of 37,500 pounds per month, and since a grow-cycle is about 60 days, 75,000 pounds dry weight every 60 days would need to be produced to meet the expected requirements of the marketplace. Once economy of scale, start-up cost inputs are calculated, I expect the cost of producing the cannabis will be $10-$20 an ounce, or less, but not more, and this would include all production and distribution as well as capital inputs pro-rated over three years, ultimately reducing the costs after three years. Of course, taxation would need to be applied as per your regulations.

This would mean 75,000 1,000-watt bulbs of production operating in the state of Washington under the aegis of the WSLCB to meet this demand. With the retail price at $20-$40 an ounce plus taxation, this will wipe out all aspects of the black market in Washington state, certainly the voters had this in mind when they passed Initiative I-502. This will also make impractical any need to for medical users to grow their medicine, as long as taxation is not so onerous as to re-ignite black market production.

Marc Emery plant photo by Jeff V

An ideal production facility with 150 1,000-watt bulbs, with concrete foundations and all sophisticated equipment necessary for 165 pounds every 60 days, (functionally, it would be 35-40 pounds every 15 days), costs $1,000,000 to $1,200,000. To meet the 75,000 pounds every 2 months, you'll need 200-350 facilities to be built. You could make vast-sized facilities of 500 (or even 1,000) bulbs, but the cost savings are inversely proportional to increasing risks, as plant diseases, or pest infestations and other unforeseen disasters, in a closed environment, are difficult to extinguish once endemic in one facility. It is better to have 200-350 separate facilities than 10-20 staggeringly large facilities, so production problems in one unit do adversely affect the production volumes required. Sophisticated outdoor greenhouses are also a cost-efficient consideration but this would be something better suited to eastern Washington's more reliable sunny weather. There is also a market for sun-grown outdoor field marijuana that will have far smaller start-up input costs, but will require a modest level of security.

In all three of these kinds of horticultural endeavors, it is vitally important that all efforts be documented, and under regular review, and I am very familiar with this necessity.

I work well with government bureaucracy, scientists, medical researchers, legislators, policy makers, horticulturalists/farmers (and they can be an iconoclastic, dare I say, eccentric lot, believe you me), retailers, and marketing departments. I understand product promotion in this field very well, and I certainly know well the various client bases being served. I can provide endorsements and bona-fides for all these claims upon request should you be interested in considering me becoming a member of your team.

I do hope my Canadian citizenship and my current status as prohibited-from-entering-the-United States-for-life is not a too-extraordinary impediment to the successful execution of this job. I'd like to point out it wasn't particularly my involvement in cannabis cultivation that made me a US federal prisoner and felon, though the official conviction is one count of conspiracy to cultivate marijuana. It was in fact my political advocacy to legalize marijuana and the millions of dollars I contributed to US organizations and individuals to accomplish this objective via ballot initiatives and various court, legal and political actions that brought me to the attention of the DEA (see among my bona-fides, a press release from DEA chief Karen Tandy from July 29, 2005).

However, my grassroots reputation with the people who did, after all, vote in this now legal regime in Washington state, is at its all-time zenith. This can only be of considerable benefit to the WSLCB should I join your team and apply my skills and name to your efforts to supply the people of Washington with the finest cannabis possible. My original prosecutor, former Western Washington District attorney John McKay, had a considerable involvement with Initiative 502, and in view of his stark conversion-on-the-road-to-Damascus change of heart regarding marijuana prohibition, I do expect an excellent review from him should you consult him in this matter, and hope in this new enlightened post-502 era, my credentials will be weighed fairly viz. a viz. the other applicants.

Marc and Jodie Emery, December 2, 2012Regrettably, at this time, being a guest of the US Bureau of Prisons in Mississippi, I cannot appear for an interview in person in Washington, but I think it would still be very profitable for the WSLCB to come to Yazoo City medium security federal prison on any Friday evening, Saturday or Sunday to conduct an interview with me here. Considering the likely investment of approximately $200,000,000 in facilities to produce the marijuana, and the more than one billion dollars in sales annually that are to be expected, the costs of having your representatives interview me here at Yazoo would be an extremely wise and prudent investment.

In anticipation of a successful meeting for one of your consulting positions,
I remain (until July 9, 2014)
Marc Emery 40252-086,
Yazoo City Federal Corrections Complex
Yazoo City, Mississippi, 39194


On Friday, February 1st, 2013 the Province newspaper ran a column by Jon Ferry about Marc and the Washington state job opportunity. Click here to read it, or see the image file below.

Marc and Jodie, Province newspaper




The “It’s Legal!” Jodie Emery Show – November 8, 2012

submitted by on November 9, 2012

MARIJUANA HAS BEEN LEGALIZED! Jodie has just returned from Washington state where she joined in the celebration of the passing of marijuana legalization I-502 as they, along with Colorado's Amendment 64, voted to legalize recreational marijuana.

The media is buzzing with news and Jodie has been non-stop busy with interviews, and shows all the press clippings since Sunday! Check out links to news stories and more at and

All of the organizers and volunteers in both states did a fabulous job of helping these initiatives to pass – they have shown the way for others to follow and have made our dreams come true! And there was even more good news with medical marijuana passing in Massachusetts, and more positive law reform in other states and cities. CONGRATULATIONS! You did it!!!

Marc is thrilled by the news – after financing marijuana activism in the USA for a decade with millions of dollars from selling millions of seeds to Americans in every state, the American people have carried out his mission to "Plant the Seeds of Freedom and Overgrow the Government"! Look for a new blog from him about the victories at

Read all about the legalization and election news at

Watch video reports about legalization from the mainstream media at  

The vote in the US has ingnited the legalization discussion here in BC, where Stop the Violence BC ( has been in the media calling for change, along with the Sensible BC campaign, headed by long-time activist Dana Larsen. The Sensible BC campaign will make cannabis the lowest police priority, and stop police from arresting people for possession in our province. It's a huge task, and we need your support! To find out more information and get involved, please visit



Get involved! Read Marc's article for aspiring activists:

Donate to any organization that works to reform marijuana laws, and volunteer some time for their campaigns:

Write Marc a letter about how YOU plan to keep spreading legalization to the rest of the world!

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

Go to for all the details.

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

Stay informed, stay involved at:

Watch thousands of hours of Pot TV at:

Marc Emery’s Reaction to Legalization in the USA

submitted by on

Marc and Jodie, Yazoo prison, September 28th 2012It took 75 years. Seventy-five years to win the majority support for legalizing marijuana at the ballot box.

Colorado and Washington voters passed, by substantial pluralities, legalization bills that guarantee universal access to any one, resident or visitor, 21 years or older, of up to one ounce of marijuana. In Colorado, anyone can grow up to six plants, and stores will sell marijuana to adults. In Washington, the state is obliged to distribute marijuana in retail locations.

Yes, the US federal government will object, but they can't do anything about a state withdrawing all penalties for possessing marijuana, and they would be very unwise to overrule or challenge a state constitutional amendment such as Colorado’s Amendment 64.

The federal government doesn't prosecute grows under 100 plants and the DEA doesn't bust local dealers or individuals in possession. A confrontation is what the movement needs. The framers of the I-502 initiative in Washington brilliantly wrote it up and are already in talks with the US Department of Justice on how they are going to implement the law.

There is no going back now. It's a done deal. And the news is going all over the world. Even the China Daily News quoted Jodie and myself about this historic event. Every marijuana enthusiast across the planet is excited by what's happened in Washington and Colorado.

And in 2014, I believe California, Nevada, Oregon (who lost this time 54% to 46%) and Massachusetts will have universal access initiatives on the ballot, and perhaps other states too. The movement towards voter-approved legalization – or rather, an end to marijuana prohibition – is gaining ground with each passing year. Now 75% of British Columbians favor legalization of marijuana; that is a staggering plurality. Every day some new elected official, judge, prosecutor, former Attorney-General, mayor, DEA agent, FBI agent, Congressman or legislator comes on board.

I think marijuana legalization will be a main election discussion policy in the British Columbia May 2013 election. Members of the Legislature like Liberals Kash Heed and Joan McIntyre, and the NDP's Nicholas Simons, have recently made public statements recommending a completely legal, regulated and taxed marijuana distribution regime. It's getting to be a bi-partisan policy these days. I am encouraging Jodie to run in that election this May to keep the media and voters of British Columbia focused on ending prohibition.

Every one reading this felt a unique and extraordinary wave of elation on the evening of Tuesday, November 6th or the following morning when you heard "Marijuana legalized by voters in Colorado and Washington State." This incredible euphoria has affected me; as I write this, I am giddy with the hope, excitement and possibilities of the future.

However, in Canada, it is marred by the sobering fact that the Harper government's severe and harsh penalties for cannabis growing and selling come into effect this month. The new Safe Streets & Communities Act contains even more severe and wide-ranging penalties for all other illegal drugs. There will be pain and anguish and the further entrenchment of prohibition debasement of us all by the new Harper punishments.

But remember, Stephen Harper and the compassionless zombies that make up the Harper government are into punishment. They like it. It was the philosopher Nietzsche who warned "beware of those in whom the urge to punish is strong." The next Canadian federal election is still 30 months away.

This is no time to slack. Everyone reading this has a job, a duty, a calling, to do more. Preparation for 2014 initiatives must be set in motion. Contact the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, NORML, and other organizations – do more for the initiatives closest to you that are being planned right now.

In Canada, be prepared for demonstrations, occupying the offices of the Members of Parliament and even the Prime Minister's constituency office in Calgary, demanding an end to marijuana prohibition. Canadians MUST engage in a conversation with your provincial MLA or MPP, and your federal Member of Parliament. I expect anyone reading this to support my tirelessly hard-working wife Jodie when she announces her intention to run as MLA in the May 2013 election. All Canadian activists should feel duty-bound and obligated to give cash and support to Dana Larsen's Sensible BC campaign to get a referendum in BC on decriminalizing marijuana in 2014. Get involved!

75 years it took to get to this point where the movement can now harness a majority of voters to end marijuana prohibition. This is the tipping point. My 607 days remaining in this US federal prison in Mississippi has been made a cross somewhat easier to bear, knowing that the end of prohibition is imminent.

But it won't happen like magic. Be inspired by the example of Mason Tvert of Amendment 64's Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and SAFER Colorado, and the example of Alison Holcomb of the Washington ACLU and the New Approach Washington I-502 organization. Be grateful for Peter Lewis and Rick Steves funding the Washington initiatives, and the organizations behind all of the legalization and medical marijuana campaigns. Pledge to take action somehow yourself, wherever you are!

May I repeat, my friend and incredible cannabis advocate Dana Larsen has virtually single-handedly put the Sensible BC referendum proposal on the map for British Columbia, but he really needs more money to continue this campaign all the way to September 2014 when the citizens of BC can vote for decriminalization. Donations can be accepted from anywhere in the world, so go to the Sensible BC website at and give Dana some well deserved cash – $10, $25, $50, anything. It helps. A lot.

The voters of Colorado and Washington did the world a wonderful favor in looking after their own interests. They proved it can happen, not only in our lifetime, but today. I've dedicated my life to fighting marijuana prohibition for 22 years now. To the citizens of Colorado and Washington, I am awed with gratitude to you – and especially those who made this historic 'fall of the cannabis Berlin Wall' moment happen: I salute you. You’ve made history, and shown us how we can make history too. And we shall!

Marc Emery, #40252-086
Yazoo City federal prison




Get involved!

Read Marc's article: "Advice for Aspiring Activists"

Donate to any organization that works to reform marijuana laws, and volunteer some time for their campaigns:
Marc in Yazoo prison, Mississippi



Marc’s US Election Excitement from Behind Bars in Mississippi

submitted by on October 7, 2012

Jodie and Marc in Yazoo prison, MississippiToday is Wednesday, October 3rd. In less than five weeks Americans will be voting candidates for President, Senate, the House of Representatives, their local statehouse representatives and senators, state attorney-generals, and their Mayor, City Council, sheriff, county commissioners, and possibly dozens of other elected offices at the state, county and local level. And then there are ballot initiatives that seek majority support for state laws legalizing possession of marijuana (Washington, Oregon, Colorado), medical marijuana (Arkansas, Massachusetts), and other proposed legislation.

Only about 20 states allow initiatives (also known as Propositions and Questions). In Canada, only British Columbia allows initiatives – and the signatures needed, about 400,000 voters in 90 days, are a daunting requirement. Nonetheless, my great friend and long-time activist Dana Larsen has undertaken this heroic task with his Sensible BC organization to get a marijuana possession decriminalization statute on a September 2014 ballot. Check out for information about that campaign.

Canadians have no experience with the numerous options on a ballot that Americans face each November. When Canadians go to vote, it's for one office and that's it. In British Columbia, a person votes for City Council on mid-November Saturday every three years. For the provincial legislature (the equivalent of the statehouse), in BC we vote for one person on the second Tuesday in May every four years. For the federal Parliament (similar to Congress), Canadians vote for their one representative from their district every four years, sometimes a bit sooner if no one party controls the majority of seats. In Canada, the federal parliament has five parties in it, compared to the two parties in the US Congress.

My wife Jodie Emery, and Jeremiah Vandermeer, editor of Cannabis Culture and Pot TV, will be at the New Approach Washington headquarters in Seattle on November 6th streaming live the results of the marijuana legalization initiative I-502 as they come in (as well as bringing in affiliates from Colorado and Oregon to broadcast the results of their state legalization votes). New Approach Washington ( is the organization that has done all the work writing up this proposed legislation, getting the necessary 247,000 signatures of Washington voters to put it on the ballot, and have raised millions to promote the initiative on television and in other media. Be sure to go to and for the livestream, and share the experience with thousands of others on that historic night!

Vote YES on I-502 in Washington!I am thrilled Jodie, Jeremiah, and his long-time girlfriend Carina will be at the epicenter when history is being in America – that is, when Washington State becomes the first US jurisdiction to legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. The same legislation also sets up a state cannabis distribution system through all state licensed liquor stores, and although the federal government may try to interfere with that aspect of the legislation, there is little the US federal government can do in regards to negating the provision allowing all adult persons to carry and possess (and thus consume) marijuana, at least up to an ounce of it at a time.

The Washington state initiative is polling a much wider margin of success than similar initiatives in Colorado and Oregon; I attribute this to a very prescient organization in Washington state. This is not an initiative that percolated from the cannabis community. I-502 was done by organizational professionals who largely are more interested in aspects of civil liberty, reducing the pernicious effects of prohibition, and putting forth a practical legislative proposal that takes into account the concerns of the conservative straight voter who is likely to show up on voting day. People who show up to vote are usually those with a long-term stake in the community, usually with children or family as concerns. So when they are asked to legalize possession of marijuana, and these voters in the main don't partake, they need to know that the community safety – and specifically, that of their family – is built into this kind of legislative proposal. New Approach Washington did just that. They raised and spent millions in advertising promoting that aspect of the legislation, and are being rewarded with the best polling results of the three legalization initiatives.

Vote YES on Amendment 64 in Colorado!I do hope the initiatives in Colorado (YES on Amendment 64!) and Oregon (YES on Measure 80!) pass too (check out and Mason Tvert, one of the principal forces behind the Proposition 64 in Colorado, with his group SAFER, has over a decade of tremendous work in Colorado, first getting a Denver initiative passed way back in 2007 – see more about that at Colorado already is a medical marijuana state. Polling in Colorado suggests the vote will be close, but is winnable. Oregon is walking a tightrope, and lacks funding to promote the initiative there, but Paul Stanford has done a very admirable job gathering the signatures with his group to get the legalization question on the ballot there, and Russ Belville has been working hard promoting it too.

These efforts will be in urgent need of your campaign dollars and your vote on Tuesday, November 6th. Perhaps the most important votes in the lifetime of anyone in the cannabis culture in those three states will be Tuesday, November 6th. Imagine your elation when you awake on Wednesday, November 7th, and marijuana possession is legal in your state – somewhere in your country! – and you helped make it happen! But don't just dream it, you've got four weeks to make sure this dream becomes your reality!

Vote YES on Measure 80 in Oregon!Of course, if you live in Washington, Oregon, or Colorado, be sure you are registered to vote and go support these history making legalization initiatives. If you are in Massachusetts and Arkansas, get out and vote for their medical marijuana initiatives. And a big thanks to Marijuana Policy Project for providing money and infrastructure to get the Arkansas initiative up and on the ballot for Tuesday, November 6th. MPP has done a terrific job getting statehouses in Rhode Island and Connecticut – this year alone – to pass medical marijuana legislation, and historically have done more to provide the wherewithal to get initiatives on the ballot and legislation in the statehouse than any other group.

Definitely you should make contributions of money – even $10, $25, $50 – to Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, SAFER Colorado, New Approach Washington, the THC Foundation, and any organization making real political change happen. These are the people making history happen in America, and money is an essential lubricant of liberty.

As for voting for President, I cannot say anything positive about Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. I disagree with everything Mitt Romney says he wants to do, and I disagree with everything Barack Obama has done. There is simply nothing to recommend either of them. Both are warmongers, both want to maintain the drug war, both believe in the surveillance state, state secrecy, the Imperial Presidency. They are both the complete opposite of Ron Paul, my hero, who I pray stays healthy and fit to run for President in 2016. As to Ron Paul's son, Rand Paul, the US Senator from Kentucky is a shadow of his great father, and while Rand Paul is in some ways sympathetic to curtailing the excesses of the drug war (as in the case of mandatory minimums, to his credit), he is not the courageous man of perfect principle that his father is.

There are two perfect candidates running for the job of President and Vice President, and while they have no hope of being elected to those positions, they are the best candidates ever put before the cannabis culture for ending the drug war: Gary Johnson, the former two-term Governor of New Mexico and a wonderful, intelligent individual whom I met in 2003; and (California) Judge Jim Gray, a decades-long critic of the drug war whom has met Jodie twice this year. They make up the Libertarian ticket for the White House. They are both articulate and offer the right positions on the military, the drug war, the surveillance state, on the environment, on abortion and female reproductive autonomy, the economy, taxes, the deficit. They are both impeccably honest and very experienced. See for more information.

There is a Libertarian candidate for virtually every position on the ballot. My recommendation is that you vote for every Libertarian you can, and give a small donation to each their campaign, and help them out, because every Libertarian wants to end the drug war and believes in individual freedom and liberty.

There are a few Republicans running for Congress who oppose the drug war – very few though, and they should be supported. However, many of the Democratic candidates for House of Representatives support some aspect of medical marijuana legislation, or legalization. Only a few Democratic Senators feel this way, alas, and only Rand Paul of the Republicans in the Senate is worth acknowledging in a positive way. You still need to educate your US Representative and US Senator from your district. Write them. Be heard. Watch how they vote in Congress.

Perhaps the greatest essay ever written on the colossal damage the drug war has done was recently published as a blog on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer by Vivian McPeak, the chief of the Seattle Hempfest. It’s poetic, brilliant, sobering and simply fantastic. I hope reading it – "Happy Birthday Prohibition – Now Die" – inspires you to give some money, your time, your vote and your involvement in the fight to end prohibition. These may be the most important weeks in the history of our movement, when your vote, your donations, and your voice promoting these initiatives makes a critical difference.

Jodie and Marc in Yazoo prison, MississippiIt would sure make the 610 days I'll have remaining in this US federal prison a great deal easier to bear on the morning of Wednesday, November 7th. That the torch of the cannabis culture I tried to carry for decades has been carried on by millions of Americans who will not be, and were not, deterred by their governments' resistance to justice. The very state of Washington, home of the Seattle federal court that sentenced me to prison for five years – specifically because of my legalization activities and supporting the marijuana movement with millions of dollars and millions of seeds – will have turned the world of prohibition upside down overnight by making I-502 the law, by making marijuana legal for the first time anywhere on earth. And my own prosecutor, who later realized marijuana prohibition is a failure, is working for legalization and campaigning against prohibition with the I-502 campaign. Our movement gains allies every day.

I'll be locked down in my cell at 7:45pm Washington state (Pacific) time on Tuesday, November 6th. I won't have heard any results by then, I won't know if history was made until I get out of my cell at 6:00am sharp Wednesday morning and check my email from Jodie to read what transpired. I pray that Wednesday, November 7th is going to be my favorite Wednesday of my entire life – the day when legalization became more than just a 32-year dream of mine. The day I awoke and the world really changed.

Please do your utmost, if you live in Colorado, Oregon or Washington to make it your best Wednesday ever, too!


The Importance of Washington’s Legalization Initiative I-502

submitted by on May 21, 2012

My declaration in my previous blog that activists who oppose the legalization initiative on the November ballot in Washington State are acting foolishly and counter to the interests of our movement provoked a reaction, not unexpectedly.

So I am writing about I-502 again.

In a perfect world, devoid of politics and where the rules of conduct in society are determined by principles of liberty and the full autonomy of the individual, the ideal circumstance for us would be where the governments of Mexico, the United States and Canada all strike marijuana and all controlled substances from the Controlled Drugs & Substances schedule.

In that ideal world, there would be, in fact, no regulatory regime of any kind governing what adults (adults being defined as independent, autonomous, self-sufficient entities making their own decisions – that is, not living at home under the largesse and responsibility of parents) can do with their bodies or their mind, limited only by the caveat that their actions be peaceful, honest and consenting.

That, to me, is the long-term goal that I have pursued politically as a libertarian for 33 years: to advocate whatever measures can lead us in the direction of greater liberty and individual autonomy. We live in a world where we have inherited a very imperfect and corrupted democracy, and where politics, not reason or principle, determine the landscape by which we are legally judged for our actions.

I have run for elected office 12 times from 1980 to 2009, not because I believe politics is legitimate (it isn't), but because as a practical matter of self-defense I have to articulate the vision of a proper social system that my fellow citizens can embrace, and, over time, advocate and agitate towards in whatever peaceful way possible that our times allow.

In truth, in my lifetime, politics has not liberated us nearly as much as technology and science. What defeated censorship was instantaneous electronic communication like the internet and smartphones. What defeated 'blue laws', restricting when stores can retail, was 24-hour online shopping. What defeated laws prohibiting explicit sex depictions was VCRs, then DVDs, then the internet. Gambling happens on the internet, largely neutering gambling restriction laws. RU-42 pills make an abortion available bypassing government control. Most government prohibition attempts have a technologically liberating response. That is how the seed revolution I started, to 'Overgrow the Government', succeeded. It made the mass dissemination of cannabis genetics possible using modern mail and the internet.

Politics, and the process of government control of the people, is a corrupt and discredited holdover of the past, and people are extremely cynical about it – young people especially. In Canada and the US we have dysfunctional democracies where a majority of citizens want marijuana legalized, but almost no representation in the Parliament or Congress or White House work to make that happen. The most suitable act to end the prohibitions in all three countries would be to end the scheduling of drugs and let individuals decide what to put in their bodies. This would draw to an immediate close the illegal drug markets, the cartels, gangs, SWAT teams, most police forces, most prisons, the narco-corruption of governments, the tens of thousands of killings, the lucrative profits, the tragic waste of our resources, the criminal records that over 25,000,000 living North Americans have for a drug conviction.

Prices for all these substances in a legalized world would no longer drain us of our personal finances nor our tax payments, and those who want marijuana or other drugs would no longer consort with, join, or subsidize organized gangs; the streets would be safer; there would be more money for medical care, hospitals, doctors, education, and much less taxes needed for prisons, police, militaries, border guards, Homeland Security, the surveillance apparatus, SWAT police, courts, sheriffs. Fewer people would be on welfare, vastly fewer people would have guns and criminal records.

In short, the lives of everyone on the planet would be perceptively improved immediately upon ending prohibition, and would continue to improve as the grim specter of prohibition receded. Once the cancer of prohibition, the greatest policy disaster in the history of humankind, ends, restoration of human dignity, choice, public safety, the credibility and effectiveness of our institutions would transpire. The effect would be revolutionary, making the world of the post-prohibition future unrecognizable to our sadly failed world today.

To repeat: It would be the greatest boon in the history of humankind, for every one of us on planet Earth, to end the prohibition and the pernicious drug war that flows from it.

But because of politics, it does not happen.

Instead, those who care, and are aware (and we are gaining in numbers and influence every day), must participate in this corrupt political arena and seek out directional improvements to the sordid status quo. The most we can accomplish in this system are tiny, incomplete, hardly-satisfying steps that take us only fractionally toward the ultimate ideal of a prohibition-free society. And even that is tough work, and very rarely does it happen.

So I rejoice when, for example, my friend and esteemed lawyer Kirk Tousaw spends months in a Canadian courtroom to have a judge, over a period of years in the making, declare that, "Yes, a Canadian with a medical marijuana exemption card can indeed possess cannabis infused cookies as well as dried marijuana legally." Tiny little victories, and but a tiny bit more freedom for just a few. Not even freedom for many, but a few. A lot of work to achieve, in the big picture, a little bit more liberty. But what other choice does Kirk have? Should we all sit around and wait for a perfect world to exist before we support small steps towards that perfection? Of course not.

We did try, indeed, to have the entire marijuana prohibition struck down in court in 2003. I was largely responsible for funding the 2003 David Malmo-Levine challenge in the Canadian Supreme Court, to strike down marijuana prohibition, but we lost, the Justices voting 6-3 against us. The three francophone (French) judges were with us, and said, clearly, marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional. The six Anglophone (English speaking judges), the bastards, all ruled against us, saying "marijuana consumers have no more a constitutional right to cannabis than cannibals have a constitutional right to practice cannibalism"! (I kid you not, they did indeed write that). We can't get a re-do in the Supreme Court. So we have to chip away at the edges of prohibition.

In British Columbia, 68% of citizens want legalized marijuana. Four former BC Attorneys-General have come out saying legalize marijuana. Eight current BC Mayors say legalize marijuana. Four former Mayors of Vancouver said we should legalize marijuana. The entire 10 members of Vancouver city council recently voted to endorse ending marijuana prohibition. "So what does it take to get 'er done?!" you ask? Secede from Canada and declare British Columbia sovereign? I mean, at what point do politicians, our political representatives, acknowledge this and act on it? And if they fail to act on it, why?

The scourges of prohibition – and there are dozens of toxic byproducts that emerge from drug wars and prohibition – are SO obvious, the only reason politicians, one would conclude, maintain the prohibition is because they are totally with the gangs, cartels, and the other violent, murderous prohibition profiteers. Those who support prohibition are fully aware of the tragic consequences of this insidious policy, and yet, they fully endorse it. They prop up the gangsters and the control/prison/punishment complex despite the brutal harm caused to billions of people on earth.

Is there any greater definition of evil?

The need for systemic revolution is great. And yet, all we can do is chip away at this grotesque injustice by tinkering at the local level, the state and provincial level, by writing our Congresspeople and Parliamentarians (admittedly in a largely futile expense of effort), by educating, by going to rallies, and, if motivated suitably, by voting. It’s essential to participate in this horrible, inefficient, disappointing, corrupt, unsatisfying, frustrating democratic process. Simply because we must. To disengage from the political process is not an option, because it surrenders the system to the exploiters and demagogues who by and large have far too much influence now.

In British Columbia we have a 'Sensible BC' campaign coming up, where 350,000 signatures must be gathered in a period of 90 days to put on the September 2014 ballot, in a special referendum, an initiative stating no taxpayer money will be spent in BC on the arrest, jailing, prosecution, investigation of any person involving the possession of marijuana. (Currently 3,583 people in BC every year are charged with marijuana possession – that’s ten every day in a province of 4.4 million people, the highest possession arrest rate in any province in Canada.)

It's an enormous, almost impossible threshold of signatures to gather in 90 days. A staggering amount of people will need to gather signatures in such a short time for what is surely a very modest proposal. Paid signature gathering is not permitted under the legislation governing referendums. There is no federal referendum process in Canada where we can challenge the federal law that perpetuates the nationwide prohibition; this is true also for the US federal government.

The wording of a state initiative is a very tricky thing. It must be worded so that the legislation sought is constitutional under state law. It must be politically weighted to attract at least 50% of the voters who vote on that day. It must appeal to a broad cross-section of voters, those directly affected, and those indirectly affected. It must have adequate safeguards to quell the vitriol of opponents who may be expected to oppose the initiative. For a principled person to support the initiative, it must extend liberty to the people in a greater degree than currently exists.

Washington State's legalization initiative I-502, by New Approach Washington, provides that hundreds of retail outlets currently selling alcohol in the state will be legally authorized to sell legal cannabis in quantities up to one ounce at a time per adult 21 years of age or over. Those adults, 21 to 100 years of age (and older), can possess and transport it. Producers of the cannabis provided to these hundreds of outlets will be from Washington State licensed growers. There will be taxes added on top of the retail price.

Most people in the cannabis community would find these provisions a positive step forward, and many in the non-toking community will too. Important questions do remain, such as, will the retail price be low enough to discourage people from growing and selling their own? Will the price be low enough to discourage black market dealing? How will producer licenses be issued?

The most controversial aspect of this proposed legalization legislation is the proposed statute that says driving a vehicle with over 5 nanograms of active THC in the system is a DUI offense. Police would require one of the three elements of probable cause to take a blood sample: 1) cannabis smoke, 2) impaired or dangerous driving, or 3) being involved in an auto accident. For an explanation of what the DUI provisions mean, see the I-502 DUI fact sheet here:

In Michigan, the Court of Appeal there on April 17, 2012 ruled that the state had a 'zero tolerance' for any THC in the system of any driver called on to provide a blood sample, in the case of an accident investigation that prompted the appearance before the court. The defendant in the case had a Michigan medical marijuana card and the court ruled that nonetheless it was considered impairment to have any active THC in his system.

In British Columbia, police can take a blood sample at any time they consider a driver impaired; probable cause includes dangerous driving, being involved in a car accident, and the smell of burned marijuana in the vehicle. Now, despite the law permitting this, blood samples are rarely taken – and mostly at accident scenes, if ever. DUI punishments are severe in British Columbia for a first offense, resulting in loss of drivers license for three months, impounding of vehicle for one month, counseling for a year, and a breathalyzer-tester-for-ignition device installed at the expense of the driver once his vehicle is out of impound. The expenses involved in the first DUI add up to around $4,000!

So the 5 nanograms/per milliliter threshold in I-502 is broadminded by comparison, and provides a window of driving opportunity for anyone who hasn't smoked in six hours. Bear in mind that the law, right now, does not allow anyone to drive while smoking cannabis. So this DUI provision is no worse than what already exists, and in fact, the rest of I-502 is tremendously better than what already exists in law.

It's possible or likely any legalization initiative that passes would be subject to being pre-empted by the Washington DC federal government. But that does not mean we should refuse to support an imperfect law. Opponents of I-502 say the federal government won't allow I-502 to happen and that's reason to not support it, but that is no different than saying that any legalization initiative is not worth supporting because the federal government won't allow it to happen. Do they think that a 'better', less restrictive initiative wouldn't be pre-empted by the federal government? Of course not. That pre-emption argument is a very poor reason to oppose I-502.

In November, the only initiatives that provide this huge leap forward are Washington state and Colorado, with Oregon very close to also getting a legalization initiative on the ballot. These initiatives, if passed, put huge pressure on the federal government – and there is, ultimately, no other alternative. These initiatives force a confrontation between the lawful process of the state initiatives and the intransigence of the federal government.

I-502 provides for a retail infrastructure that would be more accessible that any other system in the world. Even in Amsterdam, you can legally buy no more than 5 grams of cannabis at a time; I-502 would allow an ounce at a time to be purchased. (And beginning next year, Netherlands law forbids the sale to foreigners, though this is expected to be flouted. But in law, foreigners will have no legal protection. In fact, it still isn't legal in the Netherlands to possess marijuana; it's merely tolerated.)

Under I-502, it's not considered a violation of state or local law to possess up to one ounce of marijuana, and the state will be the agency of distribution in hundreds of outlets throughout the state. You'll be able to legally buy marijuana, legally transport the weed home, and legally possess and consume it. That is incredible, and there is no other place on earth that has legislation like that in place.

Because it will be a legal substance, it can be smoked without stigma, and the threat of dismissal from work if you are known to have smoked marijuana (Facebook photos, staff parties, etc.) evaporates. Because it would be legal, state prisoners would no longer be considered to be violating their parole, probation or bail conditions if in possession or testing positive for THC (for federal prisoners, it may still be a violation). Because it would be legal under state law, cannabis use couldn't be used against a mother or father in a custody dispute.

All production to service the hundreds of I-502 legal outlets would be legalized and licensed, the price over a short time would drop, and the varieties over time would be widened and varied. Newspapers would be reviewing all the different legal strains of cannabis on sale, just as wines or beers are reviewed.

Because legalization at the state level will remove the stigma, we can foresee that university students, who tend to dangerously binge on alcohol, will use more cannabis, since whenever they buy alcohol, the cannabis will be available at that location too. No more loss of student financial aid because of a cannabis conviction.

There are about 10,000 arrests in Washington State annually for possession; this will end. For minorities, mothers, college and university students, those who use public transit, those who don't own a car, the benefits are huge. Even though the law provides legality to those age 21 and up, those 16 to 20 years of age will know that within a very short time, they too will be afforded legal protection for the rest of their life.

I've heard it said that I-502 does not deserve support because no protection is offered to those 16 to 20, but as we all know, this is the same as the law is now; if I-502 passes, it doesn't get worse for those under 21, and because marijuana will be so much wider in its distribution, the reality is that it will be far more accessible for those 18-20 of age after I-502 is in effect. Is it right to allow adults and seniors to continue facing arrest and persecution for possession, just because kids and teens up to 21 years of age won't be able to legally buy marijuana? Of course not.

I-502 would normalize the use, consumption, production and possession of marijuana, and this effect would be contagious to voters and legislators in other states. It would also provide a huge tax revenue bounty for the Washington State and Colorado governments, and this will attract the attention of other state jurisdictions, and ultimately, lawmakers in Washington, DC.


Most of our people in the cannabis culture who smoke, grow, or sell the herb don't vote. The vast majority will never give money to political reform of any kind, most won't gather signatures (unless they are paid) and will never write their congressperson or even a letter to the newspaper to condemn prohibition.

Despite Presidential candidate Ron Paul wanting to end the entire federal drug war (and having advocating this for 30+ years) and having been passionate about complete legalization even on his speaking trips to Washington State, saying in Seattle, "Why can't we put into our bodies whatever we want?", almost every Washington state legalization activist refused to vote for Ron Paul in the Washington primaries, with many preferring to support the arch-enemy of the pot people, Barack Obama, who has continued and increased the drug war and other unjust and worrisome laws and policies such as spying, torture, war, and more.

For the most part, our people are politically useless, unwilling and unable to organize, distracted by petty acrimony, and won't actively support candidates or initiatives that will further the legalization of cannabis. For all the 250,000 stoners/pot people who come to Seattle Hempfest each August, the organizers can't even get this mass to contribute pennies per person in donations, so pathetic is the sense of political responsibility among our people. Even a tremendous event like Hempfest suffers deficits because our people can't collectively volunteer to give even ten cents per attendee to pay for its costs. Sad, sad, sad.

So we are left depending on straight people, who have a very casual affiliation at best with our culture – they might know someone who is a medical user, or smokes pot, or they smoked themselves in college – but who believe certain aspects of the drug war are wrong and counter-productive. (Still, we have many to convince; women with children and people over 65 are the toughest demographic to win over to the legalization argument, although the over-65 crowd is getting more on board gradually.)

It is not always obvious who is supporting prohibition and who is opposing it. California's Proposition 19 campaign in 2010 to pass the greatest legalization initiative ever offered to voters in history failed because the prohibition profiteers, including those allegedly in our own culture, worked so hard to defeat it. They feared losing their control and profits in the industry, and decided to maintain prohibition instead of supporting legalization.

Sadly, enough California prohibition profiteers and betrayers undermined the greatest opportunity in a generation to legalize production, possession and use of marijuana for all citizens in 2010 with Proposition 19. There will not be another Richard Lee, and there isn't another Richard Lee – the DEA and Obama have taken care of that, shutting him down, stopping him from ever financing another legalization proposition in that state. And that's a tragedy that every day Californians ought to regret. I never heard then, and I have never heard since, any rational argument offered to oppose Proposition 19. It was greed, self-interest, and paranoia offered as so-called explanations for opposing it.

When Steve Kubby put forward the 'Regulate Marijuana Like Wine' proposed initiative this year, I knew it would fail because, despite the California marijuana industry going through several billions of dollars each year, 99.9% of those earning that money don't give a damn about legalization, and never have. Proposition 215 has created a prohibition-profiteering monster than now feeds on its own success, the legal right to produce cannabis without fear of arrest while selling the product at hugely inflated prohibition profits, well beyond what a legal market could justify. Richard Lee was a saint for all of California, and he is forcibly retired now. Shame on you, Californians, for your dereliction of justice and duty to the movement!

The California situation was right out of the classic British Ealing Studios class-war film with its eponymous title and climactic greatest scene, where the one sane person in the film castigates everyone from unions to capital to government over the 'British disease', calling them out for saying "I've got mine, and screw you, mate, I'm All Right, Jack!"

Sensible Washington, the tenuous coalition of activists who made a decent effort to get a 'grass-roots' initiative on the ballot in 2010, suffered because, like California, our people won't cough up any money. Seems activists are broke and have no connections to cash. From that 'nice try' in 2010 where signature gathering fell 100,000 signatures short, it was a very depressing bad try in 2011, to a 'no try' for 2012. But most disappointingly, their response is to work hard to defeat the perhaps-not-perfect-but-still-better-than-even-Amsterdam legalization initiative I-502!

I-502 is outstanding legislation at this particular point in the cannabis liberation movement's political history. The nay-sayers may fume and deride it, but it is much sound and fury signifying nothing. I-502 is supported by many politicians and officials – the very same people we’ve all been working for so many years to bring on board to legalize cannabis. Suddenly, after they join our cause and put a legalization initiative on the ballot to allow adults to legally buy and use marijuana, they are viewed with suspicion, and even protested against!

Should I-502 fail to pass in November, we'll know who to blame, and who can be held responsible. The so-called grassroots could not manage to get their own initiative on the ballot, and in their frustration, they may choose to sabotage the best opportunity Washington State has had in the long history of prohibition to do what is possible – under the political reality of the day – to legalize marijuana.

You, my friend, should do what you can to make history, and have Washington State be the first (or amongst the first) state to legalize marijuana in the United States. So get out and vote YES on I-502 on the first Tuesday this November!