Marc Emery: 2016 is going to be a great year for weed around the world

Since finishing a five-year sentence in a U.S. federal prison in August 2014 for selling pot seeds, Marc Emery has been travelling the world, meeting with a new generation of marijuana activists and smoking the herb.

From Chile to Turkey and parts in between, the man once described as the Prince of Pot has been promoting the benefits of legal weed. 

“Most activist groups around the world are in constant contact with me, and whenever I can bring them inspiration and they can pay for the flight or train, I’ll go,” says Emery over Facebook from Slovenia recently. “I always meet up with locals in every town to get the local pot situation from them.”

On April 23, he’ll speak in Bangkok at the second annual all-day fair put on by Thai magazine Highland. From there it’s back to Toronto May 7 for the Global Marijuana March. 

Here’s his report on the state of cannabis – and why 2016 is shaping up to be the bomb for legal weed.

In Canada, we’re pretty spoiled when it comes to marijuana availability and price. 

Although Canada is likely to be the first nation to legalize every aspect of cannabis availability, we’re part of a worldwide trend to legitimize and legalize cannabis. 

Costa Rica is set to announce legalization of medical marijuana on May 1 to go along with efforts already in bloom in that country to industrialize hemp production. 

In Mexico, where the war on drugs has claimed untold numbers of lives, a Supreme Court decision has identified personal cultivation of cannabis as a constitutionally protected right. Mexico City will host its first marijuana growing expo, Expoweed Mexico, August 12-14.

Colombia legalized medical marijuana in December, following Chile, whose government pays the cost of supplying 4,000 Chileans with their medical cannabis. 

But it’s in Uruguay that the movements for legal weed is really flowering south of the equator. There, you can grow your own or have a cannabis club grow it for you. A nationwide retail distribution program supplied by six licensed distributors at $1US per gram is set to begin in June, and will simultaneously offer the world’s lowest-price weed and wipe out the black market. 

The Vietnamese group translates hundreds of article on cannabis from western media and journals from around the globe.

And anyone can grow and sell clones and cuttings of marijuana plants in Austria. A company called FloweryField produces and sells 50,000 cannabis cuttings a month. 

Meanwhile, Poland is submitting its recommendations on cannabis legalization to the UN Special Session on Drugs on April 20. 

Spain is the third-largest marijuana producer in the world, after the United States and Canada, growing huge quantities of cannabis and cannabis seeds in the Mediterranean coastal areas from Barcelona to Málaga. There are always jobs for good growers. Barcelona has 225 cannabis clubs. 

There are no borders in Europe if you travel overland, yet scarcity of weed is evident in Italy (Mafia and difficult police), Hungary, Romania and Bosnia. 

It’s a reminder that marijuana won’t legalize itself persistent citizen pressure is required.

Croatia and Slovenia have substantial cannabis cultivation going on, but there’s no activism of any kind in France, and Holland has regressed somewhat from its 1990s heyday. Truth be told, the Dutch don’t smoke pot. In Germany, only Berlin and Munich see much legalization activity.

Sweden, meanwhile, has the most regressive marijuana laws in Europe. It’s actually illegal to be high, not just to possess marijuana. In a case that’s caused a media sensation, a paralyzed man was prosecuted last year for using cannabis to relieve symptoms of pain, anxiety and depression. 

Andreas Thörn was initially acquitted of drug charges in August 2015 after successfully arguing that his health was at immediate risk if he didn’t use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Prosecutors appealed the decision, and on March 31 an appeal court sided with the government, ordering Thörn convicted and sentenced to a heavy fine.

In Malaysia, activists have been harassed and threatened with arrest just for advocating for medical marijuana on their Facebook page. 

There’s a similar repression of cannabis culture in Malta, where prison terms of up to 10 years and high prices afflict the island. 

Unlike Malta, the seven Canary Islands are producing prodigious amounts of cannabis and have over 75 cannabis clubs serving 1.5 million islanders.

In South Africa, activists are making headway getting the medical benefits of cannabis discussed, but division between blacks and whites in political organizations – along with a very corrupt ANC government – makes a united front difficult. Nonetheless, the first legal challenge against prohibition of “dagga” as it’s known, goes before South Africa’s Constitutional Court later this year. 

Closer to Canada, several U.S. states, including California, vote on legalization initiatives in November.

The endgame is now before us. | @MarcScottEmery

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