Marijuana activist Jodie Emery brought the fight over illegal dispensaries to the seat of government Wednesday, with a rally on Parliament Hill that kicked off the opening of a new Ottawa store that sells pot to anyone over 19.
Emery is a well-known marijuana activist, who runs a successful chain of stores called Cannabis Culture with her husband, Marc Emery. The couple are known as the “prince and princess of pot.”
At a small rally on Wednesday, Emery and a dozen supporters railed against the government’s “injustices,” including arrests of dispensary staff and strict regulation of access to the drug that has resulted in raids on illegal shops.
On Tuesday a Cannabis Culture location in Brantford was raided the day after it opened, but that didn’t stop Emery from attending the grand opening of a new store just a 15-minute walk from Parliament Hill.
Cannabis Culture checks IDs for age but will sell marijuana products to customers without a medical license or registration.
“We have a right to medication that is going to help us,” said Sherry Morrison, who attended the rally on the Hill and was one of the first customers at the new dispensary on Bank Street.
Morrison has a marijuana prescription to deal with her spina bifida. She said she had been prescribed Percocet tablets but struggled with the symptoms of opioids, whereas she “functioned normally” with marijuana.
Morrison’s daughter was arrested in the Jan. 31 raid of Weeds on Bank Street, another chain of dispensaries that has attempted to open locations across the country.
Inside the busy newly opened shop Emery said she hoped that the Ottawa franchise would escape the public complaints and police raids that have plagued other marijuana retailers in the city.
“This is the dream come true,” she said. “I hope they won’t come and raid this place, because it’s demonstrating what a successful business looks like.”