Nine months after they were targeted in a country-wide police sting, cannabis activists Marc and Jodie Emery have been sentenced to two years of probation and $150,000 fines for drug trafficking-related offences.
The couple pleaded guilty Monday to possession for the purpose of trafficking, and possession of the proceeds of crime. Marc Emery additionally pleaded guilty to trafficking marijuana.
In addition to the fines, they were ordered not to take part in the illegal cannabis industry.
Addressing the court, the Emerys’ lawyer Jack Lloyd argued his clients operated dispensaries as a form of civil disobedience to protest unfair laws.
The couple was arrested in March following a Toronto police investigation known as Operation Gator that saw their Cannabis Culture dispensaries raided. Fellow Cannabis Culture partners Chris and Erin Goodwin and Britney Anne Guerra were also arrested; the three of them also pleaded guilty to trafficking-related charges on Monday and were sentenced to smaller fines and two years of probation each.
Cannabis Culture started out as a magazine in 1994 and gradually expanded to include dispensaries across the country. Founder Marc Emery was sent to jail in the US in 2009 for selling cannabis seeds through the mail. At that point, Jodie Emery took over as owner and operator of Cannabis Culture.
According to an op-ed posted on Cannabis Culture’s website, Jodie Emery said she wanted to open up recreational dispensaries in the beginning of 2016, to “raise money for activism efforts, and promote our message of cannabis freedom, dignity and equality.” According to Global News, Crown Attorney Kiran Gill pointed out that the Cannabis Culture location on Toronto’s Church Street alone made $45,000 a week.
The couple has been highly vocal about ending the war on drugs and critical of the Liberals’ legalization plan, which they’ve likened to another form of prohibition due its many restrictions.
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