Obama forced to address petition to pardon Marc Emery
U.S. President Barack Obama yells back to supporters at Love Field in Dallas on Oct. 4, 2011
Andrew Weichel, ctvbc.ca
Published Thursday, October 13, 2011 8:04PM PDT
Marijuana activists petitioning for B.C.'s Prince of Pot, Marc Emery, to be pardoned from U.S. prison are expecting a formal response from American President Barack Obama soon.
In September, Obama announced a new program called "We the People," which promised an official White House response to any petition that could collect 5,000 signatures within 30 days.
The petition to free Emery reached that target in nine.
Emery's wife Jodie told ctvbc.ca she's excited to see the president address her husband's incarceration, but she's not getting her hopes up for a pardon.
"We know that Obama hasn't been very friendly towards the marijuana movement, even though he's an admitted marijuana and cocaine user," she said.
There's no word on when Emery supporters will receive their response, but the White House website states it could take "a few weeks."
The most popular petition on the site, with more than 55,000 signatures, is a call for marijuana to be legalized and regulated similarly to alcohol.
"It's the third time Obama has asked the public to identify important issues, and it's the third time marijuana legalization has come out on top," said Emery.
The popularity of the "We the People" program led the government to raise the threshold for petitions to 25,000 signatures in 30 days last week.
But the official White House blog promised to honour the petitions that had already reached the 5,000 signature goal.
"This change only affects petitions created from this point forward," it pledged, "and will not be applied to petitions of any signature count already in the system."
The Marc Emery petition describes the leader of the B.C. Marijuana Party as a "political activist, publisher, businessman" who was arrested and prosecuted for political reasons – namely, for channeling money into pot legalization groups in the U.S.
He was extradited to the U.S. last year, where he pled guilty to selling marijuana seeds to Americans and was sentenced to five years in prison.
Emery applied to be transferred to a Canadian prison, but was denied. He is eligible to apply again in two years.
His wife says he's doing well in prison, where he's learning to play bass guitar and has formed a band with his fellow inmates called Yazoo, named for the Yazoo City Medium Security facility where he's being held in Mississippi.
"He's healthy as far as we know," she said. "He's always loved music but never played an instrument, so that's been really great for him."
As of Thursday, Emery has 999 days left to go in his sentence.