Pot activists Marc and Jodie Emery get fine, probation on drug-related charges

Pot activists Marc and Jodie Emery get fine, probation on drug-related charges

TORONTO — A police investigation into marijuana operations of Canada’s self-proclaimed Prince and Princess of Pot offers a glimpse into the economics of the booming illegal storefront operations selling cannabis products.

Jodie and Marc Emery pleaded guilty Monday to a number of drug-related charges related to what the Crown called a “sophisticated” dispensary operation.

Crown attorney Kiran Gill told the Toronto court police seized thousands of pages of documents — from contracts to transaction records and bank deposit slips — at Cannabis Culture shops in several cities across the country last year along with a trove of documents found at the company’s Vancouver headquarters.

“Marc and Jodie Emery had established a sophisticated franchise model with the goal of operating dispensaries all across Canada,” Gill said.

She read an agreed statement of facts that showed the substantial amount of cash earned at numerous dispensaries, with the crown jewel a storefront in downtown Toronto.

Police began Project Gator in 2016 to look into Cannabis Culture, the marijuana brand operated by the Emerys that moved into the burgeoning dispensary business, Gill said.

The prosecution said it was able to piece together the vast sums of money involved after the Cannabis Culture raids.

First, franchisees had to pay Cannabis Culture a $25,000 franchise fee plus a $3,000 monthly fee. Marijuana and cannabis products, from weed to edibles to merchandise, had to be procured by the franchisee.

“Their marijuana is obtained illicitly,” Gill told court.

Franchisees also had to pay six per cent to 10 per cent royalties on total sales to Cannabis Culture, court heard.

Gill provided court a snapshot of the money changing hands. A Cannabis Culture dispensary in downtown Toronto, owned by Marc Emery and Christopher Goodwin, was sending $20,000 to $45,000 in weekly royalties alone to headquarters in January 2017, according to transaction records police had seized.

“That’s not money generated by the franchise itself, just the six per cent royalties,” Gill said.

That means that location was bringing in at least $333,000 a week during the month of January 2017.

“I was making wads of money and I don’t need it,” Marc Emery said outside court. “I was giving it away all the time. Huge amounts of money, it was fun.”

Jodie Emery said that most of the other stores were losing money.

Marc Emery, the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot,” pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, trafficking marijuana and possession of proceeds of crime more than $5,000.

Jodie Emery pleaded guilty to possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime over $5,000.

Three others with ties to the Emerys pleaded guilty to similar charges while the Crown withdrew charges against 17 Cannabis Culture employees.

All other charges against the Emerys were dropped and the judge accepted a joint recommendation for sentencing the couple.

The Emerys must each pay a $150,000 fine plus a $45,000 victim surcharge and spend two years on probation with conditions that include not participating, directly or indirectly, in any illegal marijuana dispensary.

“I think this fine is extraordinarily high, I even offered to go to jail for a year, but they weren’t interested,” Marc Emery said to the judge.

Jodie Emery told the judge she knew what she was doing was illegal but was hoping in the future it would be legal.

“We thought we could make a really big impact on what legalization should look like,” she said.

Both told the judge operating the stores was an act of civil disobedience.

The judge didn’t buy it and said a jail term would be appropriate, but agreed to the joint submission on sentencing.

“No doubt there were pro social motivations that were behind the actions, but at the same time, I have to recognize that much profit was made,” Justice Leslie Chapin said.

The federal government is set to legalize recreational marijuana in July 2018, but its sale has been left up to the provinces.

In Ontario, for example, marijuana will be sold by the provincial government in a series of dedicated stories, similar to how it sells liquor.

The Cannabis Culture brand was used at one point by a chain of 19 marijuana dispensaries in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, but there are no more stores operating, Jodie Emery said.

Following sentencing the Emerys lit up joints and had a smoke on the courthouse steps.

Liam Casey, The Canadian Press

Legalized Marijuana

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Red Deer Rebels will have three new assistant coaches when the WHL regular season starts on Friday. Brad Flynn (left), will be on the bench alongside fellow assistant Ryan Colville (right) head coach Brent Sutter (middle). (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Sutter steps down as Red Deer Rebels head coach

Red Deer Rebels Owner, GM and head coach Brent Sutter has stepped… Continue reading

Premier Jason Kenney announced $200 million more money that will benefit seniors living in continuing care on Wednesday. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program expanding

Alberta’s in-school rapid screening test program will expand to as many as… Continue reading

Parents and students learned Tuesday what the coming school year will look like. It's pretty much back to business as usual, said Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. School precautions include frequent cleaning, keeping students in the same groups where possible, planning the school day to allow for physical distancing and staying home when sick. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta’s largest school board says no to United Conservative draft school curriculum

CALGARY — Alberta’s largest school board says it will not use the… Continue reading

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher makes a shot against Italy at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, April 6, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Men’s world curling championship in Calgary in COVID limbo

CALGARY — The men’s world curling championship in Calgary remained suspended Saturday… Continue reading

Pipes intended for construction of the Keystone XL pipeline are shown in Gascoyne, N.D. on Wednesday April 22, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Non-profit Quebec law centre to aid environmental group targeted by Alberta oil firm

QUEBEC — The Quebec Environmental Law Centre is coming to the aid… Continue reading

Conservative leader Erin O'Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 6, 2020. Top Tory leaders of past and present will speak with supporters today about what a conservative economic recovery from COVID-19 could look like. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservatives cite empathy, relationships as ways to help expand their movement

OTTAWA — Conservatives should show empathy with Black residents who say they’ve… Continue reading

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. New Democrats are reconvening for the second day of a three-day policy convention as they look to push past the glitches of the virtual event's opening sessions and rally around keynote speaker John Horgan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
New Democrats reconvene as hiccups, frustrations plague national policy convention

OTTAWA — New Democrats reconvened Saturday for the second day of a… Continue reading

Owner of 4 Point Taekwondo Kevin Mejia holds a board as organizer and martial artist Kevin Olsen breaks it in Edmonton on Friday, April 9, 2021. One hundred martial artists from around the world, will be breaking a board for an event called "Break for a Breakthrough." The idea is for martial artists to unite and re-engage with the arts because they may have drifted away or lost enthusiasm as a result of the pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Break for a Breakthrough: Canadian hosts international martial arts demonstration

EDMONTON — Whether he’s breaking a wooden board, a clay tile, cement… Continue reading

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, Duke of Ediburgh, left, look on as Manitoba Beaver peaks out of his box at a July 14, 1970 ceremony in which Hudson's Bay Company observed an old tradition. The death of Prince Philip has reminded a small French village in Manitoban about how a royal visit half a century ago made the community the centre of frog racing in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS
Prince Philip’s frog-jumping legacy in a Manitoba French community

WINNIPEG — The death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has reminded… Continue reading

The Yukon provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Monday July 6, 2020. Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for Canada's fourth election held during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Yukon residents set to vote in fourth election held in Canada during pandemic

WHITEHORSE — Yukon residents will head to the polls on Monday for… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Tuesday, March 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Liberals set to debate universal basic income, pharmacare, OAS hike

OTTAWA — Grassroots Liberals have taken up Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s call… Continue reading

Most Read