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Cannabis Culture Controversies: Vancouver Stores Ordered to Close, Marc Emery Under Fire

The good times in Vancouver are over. All unlicensed marijuana dispensaries, including two Cannabis Culture shops, must cease operation, as ordered by a British Columbia Supreme Court on Dec. 14. A total of 28 stores have to close by Jan. 31, or face shutdowns and possible arrests.

The ruling comes as provinces are providing licenses for cannabis businesses under Canada’s new legalization law, which went into effect Oct. 17.

“We’re just hoping people are going to move along and move into the more mainstream licensed retail business,” Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart stated two days after the court decision. “I feel like once we have regular retail available here in the city, which will come very soon, then these other stores will just kind of fade away.”

So far, two recreational shops under the province’s new cannabis law are up and running: Evergreen Cannabis Society (2868 W. 4th Ave.) and City Cannabis Co. (610 Robson St.).

Unlike Cannabis Culture and other unlicensed stores, the new shops don’t allow onsite use. Cannabis Culture shops are famous for their dab bars.

Cannabis Culture owner Jodie Emery said she and others have been “begging” to score licenses, but have not had any success yet. “Prohibition has always sought to eliminate cannabis access and now it seems that legalization is also eliminating cannabis access,” Emery remarked. “Medical patients and recreational consumers will be suffering and even dying because of these dispensary closures.”

Sexual Harassment Charges Directed at Marc Emery

Jodie and Marc Emery in happier times (photo by Lauren Pelley/CBC)

Jodi Emery’s estranged husband Marc Emery is fending off accusations that he acted improperly around female employees when he ran Cannabis Culture with his wife in the ’90s and ’00s. Cannabis Culture began as a magazine and website and evolved into several retail businesses in BC, Ontario and Quebec.

One former employee, Deidre Olsen, says “was touchy.” He she recalls, once gave her a bong he he called “red flaming balls” and suggested they could “smoke out of my balls.” Olsen was 17 at the time.

Several women confirm that Emery made lewd comments and regularly gave unrequested back rubs and kisses to female employees.

DEIDRE OLSEN: “It’s been an open secret he’s been a creep for a long time, and he’s traumatized women into silence.”

Another woman, Brandi Watts, wrote on Facebook about Emery: “You were inappropriate. You often made me feel very uncomfortable with the nature of your physical contact and conversation. And, I’m being polite and gentle with my words right now. Being on the receiving end of it a number of times, I can tell you, it did not feel okay.
Maybe you legit don’t realize some of the lines you crossed with the people around you, and that’s fair. Realize it now, then. If you can learn to play bass, you can learn this. Way more straightforward. Own it, Marc. You can turn this shit around right now by owning it.”

MARC EMERY: “I’ve lived a very outspoken, provocative, possibly even outrageous life. I’ve thrived on controversy. And I’ve offended people. Lots of people.”

In a mea culpa on FB, Emery admitted: “Truth is, I’ve lived a very outspoken, provocative, possibly even outrageous life. I’ve thrived on controversy. And I’ve offended people. Lots of people… I do say outrageous things but it is my sincere belief that I have never harmed anyone, or sexually aggressed anyone, in my life.”

To Olsen, he replied: “I am sorry I went out of bounds and the experience has become unpleasant. It was immature of me and bad judgement, but I only ever felt positive and glad to know you in our correspondence.”

BRANDI WATTS TO EMERY: “You were inappropriate. You often made me feel very uncomfortable with the nature of your physical contact and conversation.”

Olsen added about Emery: “It’s been an open secret he’s been a creep for a long time, and he’s traumatized women into silence. He used his business and position of power to enforce that. Now that cannabis is legal and we look back on the fight, people say, ‘Yes he contributed,’ but he’s no longer someone we want in the movement.”

Emery, who’s from London, Ontario, founded Cannabis Culture in 1995. He’d moved to Vancouver the year before and started the Hemp BC retail shop. Emery eventually was nicknamed “The Prince of Pot” and became the face of the Canadian legalization movement.

In 2005, Emery was arrested by the DEA in association with Canadian officials for selling marijuana seeds to U.S. buyers. He was extradited, convicted on drug and money laundering charges and eventually sentenced to five years in federal penitentiaries in 2010. He was released in 2014.

Emery is currently traveling in South America.

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The View from Vancouver: Canada’s Legalization Challenge

The Meteoric Rise of Canada’s Legal Cannabis Industry

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