POT PROTESTER BLOWS SMOKE AT POLICE
TIMMINS - Hemp activist Marc Emery drew a crowd of about 200 people in front of the Timmins Police station Saturday, baiting police to arrest him while he distributed his magazine and puffed on the occasional joint.
``We are fully entitled to smoke and sell and grow marijuana because marijuana is fabulous,'' Emery said to the applause and cheers to those who showed up for a free, signed copy of his magazine.
Timmins Police did not arrest him.
At times waving his hands about like a street-corner preacher, the 42-year-old Emery called pot smokers the ``most persecuted culture'' and at one point led those around him in a chant of: ``Grow more pot! Grow more pot!''
Emery's appearance in Timmins from his home in British Columbia comes after Timmins Police requested that copies of Cannabis Culture be pulled off the shelves of 14 distributors.
Joe Romualdi, a member of the Timmins Police drug unit, had initiated the move after a Grade 7 student in Timmins came to school with a copy of the magazine.
At the time, Romualdi issued a statement stating, ``To sell or distribute the magazine is illegal'' and that any city store owners who continued to carry the publication ``would be dealt with.''
Emery quoted Romualdi to his audience and asked: ``What kind of threat is that? That's no different than it was in Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany.''
No police officer has the right to say you can't read about marijuana, he said to the sounds of, ``Right on! Right on!''
``What's next? Tattoo magazines? Biker magazines?,'' Emery asked.
``It's only a matter of time before they try pulling those off the shelves too,'' he told the crowd.
Emery handed out about 300 copies of his bi-monthly magazine which has been in publication now for six years.
Romualdi had referred to the publication as a ``crime comic'' which would make its distribution illegal.
However, that section of the Criminal Code dealing with crime comics - Section 163, Subsection 7 - states that a publication depicting criminal activity must be ``substantially'' pictorial for its distribution to be illegal.
That's where the Timmins Police were wrong in ordering his magazine off the shelves, said Emery.
He said his magazine has lots of photos but it's mostly filled with articles about legal issues and recent court decisions, information on how to cultivate marijuana, stories about the use of grass in spiritual and religious ceremonies and coverage about recent social events or pot parties.
``Our magazine is not an illustrated magazine. It's not aimed at children,'' he said.
``The average age of our subscribers is 28 to 45. The content is sophisticated and not really the kind that any young person would really absorb.''
Emery's lawyer, Alan Young, faxed a letter to Timmins Police Chief Denis Lavoie this past week ordering the Timmins Police to ``cease and desist'' with its arrest threats or face a $250,000 civil lawsuit.
``That's for lost revenue and punitive damages to the police for exercising unlawful and unconstitutional authority,'' Emery told The Daily Press.
The police were also told to issue a letter of apology to Emery for the violation of his expressive freedoms.
Young gave Timmins Police until Oct. 30 to comply or face a court battle.