Marc and Jodie Emery charged with drug trafficking, conspiracy, possession

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B.C. lawyer who challenged pot laws defends 3 Saint Johners after dispensary raids

Toronto police have charged Canada's so-called Prince of Pot, Marc Emery, and wife Jodie, with drug trafficking, conspiracy and possession after they were arrested at Pearson International Airport on Wednesday night.

The Emerys were on their way to a pot festival in Europe when they were arrested. On Thursday, with the couple still in custody at Toronto police's 51 Division, law enforcement officers in three Canadian cities raided marijuana shops belonging to the Emerys.

The couple appeared in a Toronto court on Thursday afternoon and were remanded into custody. They are expected to have a bail hearing on Friday morning.

During their brief court appearance today, Jodie Emery mouthed an "I love you" to her husband while he was in the prisoner's box. She then held up her fingers in a peace sign to her supporters.

Marc Emery, 59, has been charged with:

- 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.

Jodie Emery, 32, has been charged with:

- Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

- Trafficking schedule II.

- Possession for the purpose schedule II.

- Two counts of possession proceeds of crime.

Mark Pugash, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said seven Cannabis Culture locations — five in Toronto, one in Hamilton and another in Vancouver — were searched on Thursday along with two homes in Toronto, one in Stoney Creek, Ont., and one in Vancouver.

In addition to the Emerys, police charged three other people associated with the couple on Thursday. Chris Goodwin, 37, and Erin Goodwin, 31, both of Toronto, and Britney Guerra, 29, of Stoney Creek, Ont., face charges that include conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. The Goodwins are co-owners of the Cannabis Culture shop on Church Street in Toronto.

All five are due to appear in Old City Hall court in Toronto at 10 a.m. on Friday.

Toronto police issued a short news release Thursday to say that 11 search warrants were executed in Toronto, the Hamilton area and Vancouver as part of Project Gator, "a Toronto Police Service project targeting marijuana dispensaries."

"We have been enforcing the law, which is absolutely clear that dispensaries are illegal," Mark Pugash, director of corporate communication for Toronto police, told CBC Toronto.

"We have been enforcing the law for some considerable time and this is an ongoing part of that commitment to enforcing the law."

Pugash would not discuss why Cannabis Culture, which sells recreational marijuana, was the target of the operation in a city with dozens of marijuana shops.

Vancouver police confirmed that they raided the Emerys' Cannabis Culture location on West Hastings at 8 a.m. local time at the request of Toronto police.

The Ottawa location of Cannabis Culture was also raided Thursday, but Toronto police told CBC Ottawa that the raid was not part of Project Gator.

Ottawa police declined to release information about their operation.

Emery and his wife run about a dozen marijuana shops in Canada under the Cannabis Culture banner. Marc Emery was released from a U.S. prison in 2014 after spending just over four years behind bars on charges of selling marijuana seeds in the United States.

A Facebook post by Marc Emery shortly after 7 p.m. Wednesday said he and his wife were headed to Spain for Spannabis, a marijuana festival.

Toronto police have been cracking down on the city's illegal dispensaries for several months. There has been a spate of robberies of dispensaries across the city, some where shots were fired.

The turmoil has occurred as the federal government continues to mull changes to Canada's marijuana laws.

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said Thursday that the federal government remains committed to introducing legislation on the matter in the spring but noted that it would have to go through a rigorous parliamentary and regulatory process.

"It's a firm commitment of our government to legalize access to cannabis, to regulate that access and to restrict it
appropriately," she said. "We want to make sure this is done properly and people need to recognize it will take some time but it will be done."