Cannabis Culture Award Winners are:
MARC AND JODIE EMERY AND HOWARD MARKS
On the 27th of November 2014 the annual Cannabis Culture Awards were presented to world-famous icons of cannabis culture Howard 'Mister Nice' Marks of Wales (Great Britain), and 'Prince and Princess of Pot' Marc and Jodie Emery of Canada. The presentation took place in the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum and was hosted by Michael Schaap.
Marc and Jodie Emery
Jodie (CAN, 1985) and Marc Emery (CAN, 1958) are currently one of the best-known celebrity cannabis couples in the world, thanks to their dedicated activism and tireless campaigning, even in the face of extreme adversity.
Marc Emery’s career as a counterculture icon who made an impact on mainstream as well as underground politics began in 1975, when he left high school early to open a second-hand bookshop in his native Ontario, Canada. Re-naming it City Lights Bookshop, Emery established it as a base for like-minded people to connect, as well as obtain supressed or forbidden literature, including information about cannabis. He retained the shop until 1992, moving to Vancouver two years later to open another shop, Hemp BC, which specialized in cannabis paraphernalia, at the time illegal to sell in Canada.
Later in 1992, Marc Emery attended the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam and was inspired by a speech given by Ben Dronkers during the closing ceremony, explaining that Dronkers had been responsible for disseminating millions of seeds, thereby creating millions and millions of cannabis plants. Emery realized immediately that this was the best way to achieve a peaceful revolution. Just months later, at the end of 1994, Hemp BC was stocking a selection of Dutch cannabis seeds.
By 2002, despite his businesses being repeatedly sabotaged by police raids, Emery had transferred his energies to internet activities and mail-order sales of cannabis seeds. In an interview from that year, he said "Unlike most other seed dealers, I use my real name and I'm easy to find. I've been selling marijuana seeds for eight years, sending seeds to growers all over the world, including diverse places like the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia, England, South Africa, and even Korea. Business is better every year…”
EXTRADITION TO THE US
Marc Emery took the profits from his business and ploughed them back into the political side of cannabis activism all over the world, from Alaska to New Zealand. It was this affluent activism that was to be his eventual downfall, as the DEA admitted following his arrest in 2005. By this time, Marc had fallen for one of his staff – the smart and determined Jodie – and in 2006 they were married. Their relationship helped to sustain them both through the years of legal tangles that followed, as Marc faced 30 years to life in a US jail. Refusing to give up his two co-accused colleagues, he made a plea-bargain for a 5 year sentence in exchange for them receiving no prison time. US officials were willing to allow him to serve out his sentence in Canada, but Canadian authorities were having none of it and finally forced his extradition to the US in 2010.
Four years later, Marc was reunited with his wife Jodie. In his absence, Jodie Emery had co-ordinated and consolidated the local and global support for Marc, run for office on behalf of the Green Party of British Columbia and the British Columbia Marijuana Party, and taken the online magazine Cannabis Culture, Pot TV and the retail outlet Cannabis Culture Headquarters from strength to strength. Jodie Emery has described herself as a “business owner and political activist” with “a lifelong interest in issues related to freedom, peace, and justice”, and she is indeed one of the most outspoken, serious and politically motivated women in cannabis on the American continent, if not in the world, today. Frequently asked to speak at rallies, conferences and other events in Canada and the US, she is a smart and articulate presence.
FIRST TIME FOR MARRIED COUPLE
Taken separately, either of the Emerys is a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield of cannabis prohibition and legalization. Once again physically united, their combined strength is undoubtedly greater than the sum of their parts, as so many have witnessed on the numerous cannabis events they have attended recently worldwide. It should come as no surprise that the Emerys have been chosen to receive a Cannabis Culture Award; this is also the first time that a Cannabis Culture Award has been presented to a married couple in recognition of equal dedication and motivation to create true and lasting change in the world of cannabis.
Howard Marks (Wales, GB, 1945) is one of the most public examples of free enterprise and goodwill in the cannabis industry, who has contributed a great deal of valuable, positive publicity, education and entertainment to the cause of cannabis legalisation. Once described as “the most sophisticated drug baron of all time”, his current achievements as an author, public speaker, and thoroughly respectable citizen are likewise laudable.
POSTER-CHILD FOR HASH SMUGGLING
Howard Marks almost accidentally became the poster-child for hash smuggling, and continues to be the best example of non-violent, hard-drug-free, international trade in cannabis the world has ever seen. Were this a legal market, Howard would have been hailed as a major innovator, captain of industry, and possibly Forbes Business Person of the Year. Since it (still) is not, the Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum takes great pleasure in awarding the Cannabis Culture Award for 2014 to Howard Marks, in recognition of everything he has done to promote the cause of cannabis.
BEST-SELLING NON-FICTION BOOK OF 1997
Marks’ activities and success instead led to arrests and, in 1988, a 25 year jail sentence at Terre Haute penitentiary in Indiana (the harshest federal prison in the U.S.) where he began work on “Mr Nice”, his autobiography which was published in 1996, the year after his early release for good behaviour. “Mr Nice” became the best-selling non-fiction book of 1997, was translated into many languages and continues to be an international best-seller. In 2010 it was also made into a film.
NEW INSIGHTS INTO THE CONTEMPORARY CULTURE OF YOUNG PEOPLE
The popularity of his book led Marks to new insights into the contemporary culture of young people. "Through a plethora of media interviews and several public book readings, it became clear that the predominant reason why so many adolescents and university students read and enjoyed Mr Nice was their frustration with the law prohibiting cannabis consumption and trade. Until then, I had no idea of the extraordinary extent of cannabis use by young people today."
AN AUDIENCE WITH MR NICE
This new realization sparked a spate of live shows, usually advertised as book readings but in practice more of a freeform combination of stand-up comedy and relevant reminiscences which received praise from press and audiences alike. “An Audience With Mr Nice” has achieved many sold-out shows throughout the UK and internationally, and although the central theme remains cannabis and Howard’s love of it, the subjects covered have become increasingly diverse.
CREATIVE CAMPAIGNING FOR THE LEGALIZATION OF RECREATIONAL DRUGS
Howard Marks has also been active in UK politics, standing for parliament in four separate constituencies (Norwich South, Norwich North, Neath and Southampton Test) in the 1997 general election on the single issue of the legalisation of cannabis. This catalysed the formation of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance shortly after. In the late 90s, he applied for the newly-created post of UK ‘drugs czar’; despite being probably more qualified than anyone else in the country, sadly he was not awarded the position. However, his creative campaigning for the legalization of recreational drugs continues apace.
A frequent visitor to Amsterdam – ironically, the first place he was arrested – Howard became friends with Sensi Seeds and Hash Marihuana & Hemp Museum founder Ben Dronkers in the 1980s. The two have appeared in various documentaries together, one of which records Howard’s visit to the Amsterdam museum during which he greatly admires the exhibits, chuckling over items donated by the police having seized them from smugglers. He also took the opportunity to enlarge the museum collection by generously donating his prison identification card to the Howard Marks display, which is still one of the most popular exhibits today.
G13 X HASH PLANT STRAIN MR NICE
As a tribute to his good friend, Ben Dronkers named the now-famous G13 x Hash Plant strain Mr Nice. The idea especially appealed to Ben since, prior to being stolen by a lab technician and let loose upon the underground cannabis breeding world, the G13 strain was created and “imprisoned” by the DEA – as was Howard.
A prolific writer, Marks is currently working on the third of a trilogy of crime novels featuring a policewoman as the main protagonist. The only thing she has in common with Howard is that they are both Welsh; a deliberate decision following a ruling that profit could not be made from criminal activities, including writing about them. The sequel to “Mr Nice”, “Señor Nice”, covers his life post-prison and does not include any reference to his smuggling days. He has also written articles for The Guardian, Time Out, GQ, The Observer and the Evening Standard.
FOREFATHER OF CANNABIS
Howard Marks continues to write, speak at public functions, and lend his support to pro-cannabis rallies and events, as well as being a father of four. Recognized in many countries the world over, he enjoys a positive response almost everywhere he goes, as one of the forefathers of cannabis.