The former U.S. prosecutor who put Vancouver’s “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery behind bars appeared alongside his wife, Jodie Emery, Wednesday to call for the regulation and taxation of marijuana.
Appearing on behalf of the coalition Stop the Violence BC, John McKay, an expert on cross-border gangs and the drug trade, said marijuana prohibition puts billions of dollars into the hands of “violent, despicable” Mexican drug cartels.
“Mexican drug cartels, dangerous gangs operating both in the United States and Canada, are all profiting from the black market that’s created by our failed policy,” said McKay during a 20-minute speech at the Century Plaza Hotel.
“What do we do about the violence that’s being spawned here? The pits with headless bodies that are thrown in? It’s because they are servicing the demand for drugs, beginning with marijuana, moving all the way through to cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroine — driven principally, I believe by the huge dollars that are tied to marijuana. Not to the cocaine, to the meth and the heroine, but to the marijuana.”
McKay said as much as 60 per cent of Mexican mobsters’ funding comes from the persistent U.S. demand for pot, and that law enforcement is acutely aware that only a tiny percentage is ever confiscated.
Activist Jodie Emery appeared briefly to say that she harbours no hard feelings toward her husband’s former prosecutor, and that he was “just doing his job.”
McKay explained he believes Marc Emery “chose the wrong path” by exporting marijuana seeds to the U.S. illegally, but that he shares a lot of beliefs with the Emerys and wishes Marc had chosen advocacy instead of bootlegging.
Jodie Emery, by contrast, characterized her husband’s seed business as a necessary act of civil disobedience, but under the glare of the cameras she and McKay seemed chummy despite their adversarial history.
“I think it’s always a great moment when we have more people joining the call to end prohibition in order to save lives, save money, and get rid of the criminal control of this industry,” Jodie said.
Former B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant and Dr. Evan Wood, lead researcher with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, also appeared to argue marijuana use should be treated as a public health issue rather than a criminal one.
Stop the Violence BC pointed out McKay joins a growing chorus of law enforcement and health officials who have spoken out in favour of taxation and regulation of marijuana to improve public safety, including the Health Officers Council of B.C., and eight former Vancouver mayors and provincial attorneys general.
By Kate Webb