On Wednesday 1st October, Marc and Jodie Emery, the Canadian political activists and founders of Cannabis Culture Magazine visited Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) to tell students why they should embrace ‘pot and peace’.
The talk was organised by Ciarán Weir, Head of the MMU Students for Sensible Drugs Policy (SSDP) society, started with an introduction into the cannabis reforms that have taken place in America in recent years. These reforms referred to the twenty-three US states that have access to legalized cannabis. Topics covered included discussions about how is it possible to punish a crime with no identifiable victim and why do we choose to ignore a substance which has proven to be beneficial to our health? Student Press Officer, Amy Turner, caught up with the controversial activist pair.
Hi Marc and Jodie, how are you enjoying your tour around the UK so far?
We have spent 8 days in Ireland, 1 day in Glasgow, we just arrived in Manchester today and we are having such a lovely time. First of all, the public reception has been fantastic. We are really engaging with our audience and other non-marijuana people too, with a lot of desire for progress on the activist front. We have seen plenty of marijuana shops selling seeds, which is great because ten years ago all the product was imported from Morrocco or Amsterdam.
Portugal and other parts of the US have decriminalized personal possession of cannabis. Do you think the UK could reach the same point in the next five years?
We are very encouraged by the legalization of cannabis in Colorado. They are now making tremendous progress where people are now growing up to six plants in their homes. No one is going to jail now because of possessing it, in turn this has eliminated the law enforcement in this police sector, which is saving hundreds of money in taxes, allowing more money to go into schools and hospitals. Colorado is undergoing a complete boom, possibly one of the biggest things to happen to marijuana people around the world. I would like to think and I hope it is very possible that England, Ireland and Scotland can be in the same place within the next five-seven years.
What do you think of the UK’s reclassification of cannabis from a class C to a class B drug back in 2009?
They reversed their decision just as I was going into US federal prison. Cannabis had been decriminalized then they reclassified it then criminalized it again. I believe this is because there is still so much stigma attached to using marijuana. What has happened in America and in Canada, is the realization that cannabis is not a sin, not a vice, but can be used for medical purposes and is consumed by good people. Legalization then soon follows this. This is a hurdle that has to be achieved in the UK. The parliament can be slow to react to what the public want, but it is up to us to show a good example and they will respond in time.
What are your thoughts on other drugs such as class A’s?
Cocaine, heroine, meth, amphetamine, these are all drugs that should be legal too. The last thing a society needs is a system that allows criminal gangs and syndicates to control the distribution of drugs. You have cartels in Mexico who have killed 60,000 people in the last ten years. To eliminate all of this, what is needed is an acceptable channel that is open and transparent and taxed and regulated. Once you give people these drugs without the worry of breaking the law or having to worry about where their next fix is coming from they can become much more productive citizens. The reason to legalise these dangerous substances is to relieve the impact for those who don’t take drugs.
1 in 5 students are experimenting with legal highs, some of which mimic the effects of cannabis. What are your thoughts on this?
[Legal highs] are really bad stuff. People who have tried them have told me they really haven’t enjoyed themselves. If we were to successfully make cannabis a worldwide legal product, then people wouldn’t, I don’t think, experiment with that junk.
For more information on the Students For Sensible Drugs Policy Society and how to get involved please visit their Union Page.
Amy Turner is a third year English student at MMU and aspiring journalist. Follow her on twitter