Marc Emery, Canada's so-called Prince of Pot, and his wife, Jodie, have each been released on $30,000 bail after being charged in Toronto with drug trafficking, conspiracy and possession — and at least one of their raided marijuana shops has already reopened for business.
The pair emerged from the courthouse protesting their treatment at the hands of police and the speed at which legalization is happening.
"This is my first time being arrested and detained and forced to strip naked in a very degrading fashion," Jodie Emery said outside Toronto's Old City Hall courthouse on Friday evening. "If legalization is coming, it means you need to stop arresting peaceful people for cannabis immediately."
Marc Emery must stay in Ontario
The pair's three co-accused were also released on $30,000 bail. All five appeared in court in Toronto.
Marc Emery's bail conditions require him to stay in Ontario and stay out of cannabis stores.
His wife's bail conditions allow her to travel to B.C. with permission because she is considered a resident of that province.
All five were ordered to surrender their passports, banned from having weapons and told they cannot consume controlled substances unless they have legitimate prescriptions. They are all due back in court on April 21.
The Emerys said that their bail conditions mean they cannot run their stores, nor can they work on their magazine Cannabis Culture.
"It's an injustice that we're used to," Marc Emery said outside the courthouse.
Still advocating for legalization
Although his wife said this was her first arrest, the Prince of Pot said it marked his 30th. He's been in 36 different jails and custodial facilities since he began selling seeds in 1994, he said Friday.
"We have been in the forefront of making this legalization happen," he said. "So you're going to attract the flak if you're near the target."
The Emerys were arrested on Wednesday evening at Pearson International Airport while trying to make their way to a marijuana festival in Europe.
The pair allege they attracted the attention of Toronto police following a rally held in this city to protest the Project Claudia raids in May 2016, during which officers executed search warrants on 43 pot retailers across the city.
More than 90 people were arrested at the time.
On Thursday, law enforcement officers in three Canadian cities raided various locations of Cannabis Culture, a chain of marijuana shops owned by the Emerys.
A police news release said the raids were part of Project Gator, "a Toronto Police Service project targeting marijuana dispensaries."
Charges against Marc Emery, 59, include:
- Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
- Three counts of trafficking schedule II.
- Five counts of possession for the purpose schedule II.
- Five counts of possession proceeds of crime.
- Fail-to-comply recognizance.
Charges against Jodie Emery, 32, include:
- Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
- Trafficking schedule II.
- Possession for the purpose schedule II.
- Two counts of possession proceeds of crime.
No grey zone for police
Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash said it's the first time anyone connected to a marijuana shop in this city has been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
"We allege they set up a franchise system. So what we're seeing is a stepping up in the seriousness of the threats posed."
Although cannabis activists argue that Canada finds itself in a legal grey zone — as the country is on the cusp of legalization — Pugash said that's not the case in the eyes of police.
Officers seized $250,000 and 2.4 kilograms of a derivative of marijuana known as shatter. Pugash said the process used to make shatter can sometimes be explosive. He said investigators believe it's what caused the blast at Tweeder Medicinal on Eglinton Avenue West in August.
"Unless you are part of the federal government's licensed program, you are breaking the law," Pugash said. "We're seeing people make huge amounts of money not only breaking the law, but endangering the public."
'We prepared for this'
But the raids have not deterred at least one of the Emerys' Cannabis Culture shops from reopening.
A lineup curled outside a raided Toronto dispensary Friday afternoon, and the shop filled with customers as soon as it opened its door.
"It's always just a financial hit," the store's general manager Jamie McConnell said. "But any dispensary at Cannabis Culture that knows what it's doing, part of their business plan is to expect to be raided.
"So we prepared for this."