Not legalizing marijuana is costing billions, says the Marijuana Party candidate in the Shuswap riding, and that's why he's running for office.
"I'm running to keep the discussion about pot honest," says candidate Chris Emery, running for a second consecutive time in this riding. "I want the message to get out, not just to the general public, but to our next representative in the legislature. Re-legalize it - it used to be legal, we need to regulate and tax it. Right now we spend billions chasing folks like me around, yet we leave billions of tax dollars on the table. That's a double whammy. It's the economics."
Emery says the fact that marijuana is illegal fuels gangs.
"It's the lifeblood of gangs and the violence that brings on. They ended alcohol prohibition and with it went bathtub gin, Al Capone and the Purple Gang."
Emery has been a Sorrento resident since 1995 and works full-time as an instrument electrical control systems technologist.
"I design and calibrate and otherwise service instrument electrical control systems, everything from municipal water systems to refineries and oil rigs. Around here, it's mostly breweries and dairies and municipal water."
Emery says he stepped down after eight years on the executive of the South Shuswap Chamber of Commerce and two years as president in order to run.
He said after writing a couple of newspaper articles on pot prohibition and receiving positive feedback, he decided in 2005 to enter the political arena.
"I got such positive feedback from smokers and non-smokers alike, and I was actually contacted by folks who are very active in the cannabis community - they asked me to run. It was the same week we all saw Pierre Burton show us how to roll a joint on national TV. I came off my back porch... and so did Pierre Burton on national TV, that he smoked."
He says he'd also like to take the "giggle factor" out of talking about marijuana.
"I'm kind of tired of the Cheech and Chong types... It's a different kind of negative stereotype. It's not the Reefer Madness psychotic killer it started with, but it's almost equally ridiculous - the lovable stoner, loser, comedian."
He describes himself as: "just your typical blues drummer who lives next door, with kids. I have two school-age kids, in middle and high school."
He says he's been honest with them about pot, which he started smoking "later in life."
"It's not for kids, neither is alcohol. But what bothers me is when folks come into my kids' classrooms, with and without guns, and tell them that my pot is the same as crystal meth and crack cocaine."
He says legalizing marijuana would not be introducing marijuana - it's already here.
"I would say it's mainstream. Better than one in three people admit to smoking it, but, more importantly, in survey after survey, the vast majority of Canadians want to see it legalized. So does the Canadian senate. So does a Royal Commission that we're not listening to."
He says he is not related to Marc Emery, the founder of the B.C. Marijuana Party, who didn't run this time around in order to support his wife who is a Green Party candidate in the Lower Mainland.
Chris Emery says that leaves him as the only Marijuana Party candidate in B.C., because his party has elected to support Green Party candidates rather than run against them. However, to remain a party, a minimum of one candidate must be fielded, which puts him as the only candidate and, by default, in the position of interim party leader of the Marijuana Party.
"I'm going to tell Elizabeth May ( Green Party leader ) I know how it feels," he says with a smile. "I was left out of the leaders debate."
The Observer is providing a profile of each candidate during the campaign, as well as providing their answers to specific questions.
Pubdate: Wed, 29 Apr 2009
Source: Salmon Arm Observer