The Sign: Meeting Marc Emery and Getting Involved – Really Involved!
By Michelle Rainey.
One afternoon in September 1998 while I was working my usual shift at the Royal Bank in Gibsons, BC, in walks Marc Emery. I’ll never forget seeing him on the news and reading about this rebel with a cause. He had moved himself and his entourage away from the raids and unsupportive Mayor at that time.
My immediate reaction was too scream out ‘oh my god it’s The Prince of Pot, can I have your autograph’ but instead I looked around to see who was in the branch and noticed The Prince and I were alone. Oh what an opportunity this was. My heart beating as if I had run a marathon, the palms of my hands soaking wet, knowing I needed to tell him what a ‘Hero’ he was (and still is). I asked him if I could help him, he immediately responded with a yes and we started to proceed with his banking transactions.
It was during these few minutes that I found the courage to blurt out “Mr Emery you are an amazing man, you are a hero to me, I have Crohn’s disease and am a closet smoker, it is a person like you that is going to help me and others bring Marijuana legalization to our world”. His eyes lit up thru his handsome geeky persona. His smile warmed my soul. He ran out to his car telling me to hang on, he brought back the Sept/Oct 1998 edition of Cannabis Culture Magazine.
He signed it ‘To Bruce and Michelle: OVERGROWING THE GOVERNMENT ONE BUD AT A TIME, FEAR NO EVIL AS THE TRUTH IS ON OUR SIDE, MARC EMERY SEPT/98’. As he handed me the magazine he then began to write down his address and phone number on a separate piece of paper (which I still have) and invited myself and then husband Bruce to come by sometime. Wow, I mean unbelievable, The Prince of Pot, at my counter depositing alimony to one of his ex-wives, which he had told me about from the get go.
When I arrived home that evening I was overwhelmed with excitement and inspiration. Bruce had just gotten home as well , I started literally jumping up and down ranting and raving that I had met Marc Emery , waving the signed magazine as if it were my patriotic country flag, I had the phone in another hand calling my mommy trying to tell both husband and mother at the same time that “THIS MAN IS GOING TO CHANGE MY LIFE SOMEDAY AND I AM GOING TO CHANGE HIS”. Both Emilie and Bruce will verify this prediction I had made that September evening in 1998. I just knew, from the moment he walked into the bank and we connected that this was sign I was looking for to ‘come out of the closet’.
With every rebel there is also danger remember, so I hid the magazine and the address under my bed in case anybody might find it besides my mother and Bruce. We all know how marijuana prohibition creates paranoia, wouldn’t want my mortgage to be taken away due to anti-prohibitionist magazine that is educating the world. So I hid ‘in the closet’ with my very limited amount of cannabis (medicine), due to my cowardice and the expense. Until June 2000.
The Beginning of the Bottom
They say there’s no place to start from like the top but if you are a realist you know starting from the bottom, which I feel is the beginning, is the only way to truly accomplish anything in life. Disgruntled job wise, unsatisfied with myself and Crohn’s disease, purposely childless after 5 years of marriage, knowing in my soul I was meant to help in this world, I began focusing in my soul of what I could do. That purpose in my eyes was to show the world that you can be a responsible hard working disease ridden person and survive using Cannabis. That this wasn’t the ‘evil’ drug that the world had been falsely told for the the past 75 years.
By fate as I say, I picked up the weekly local paper. There was an ad in the ‘Help Wanted’ section looking for a person to take care and assist Marc Emery in his home. This was it, my chance to come out of the closet and start my destiny with my “Soul Partner.”
I called him within minutes holding the magazine he had signed and the hand written address. He had remembered meeting me at the bank (it was the blonde, big boobs, red lip thing) and was curious as to why an over qualified young woman would apply for the position of ‘cleaning lady’.
I explained that he had to see me before hiring anyone. Luckily he agreed and I went to his home the next day. Armed with my resume and 6 pages of references I was not going to fail, I knew in my soul he would see that he needed me as much as I needed him. Within a few minutes I was hired. Part of me was completely overjoyed, finally a step toward legalization, the other part terrified of how I was going to explain to my world that I’m working for Marc Emery.
I went home that evening with an unbelievable gift of some Shiskaberry after having been taken to dinner by Marc and a small group of activists that are now my greatest mentors. It was at that time I knew this was the start of the rest of my life and I had a massive job ahead. Seeing that many different areas of Marc’s business life and personal life needed help I decided to get busy and start cleaning up, and I mean clean up. From his house, to wardrobe, to relationships, to firing and hiring I did it all, at the same time becoming ‘family’ and ‘friend’.
I was privileged to get my Marijuana education while working for the best activist in the world. Absorbing every bit of knowledge I could get from The Prince, Dana Larsen and Richard Cowan who were staying with Marc at the time.
Chris Bennett became manager of POT-TV after my push when a necessary replacement was needed. When I was doing Marc’s laundry in the basement I would pick apart and question Chris’s cannabis knowledge, his brilliance along with a list of others gave me an education that I can only pay back with dedication to legalization.
The BC Marijuana Party
When Marc decided to run the BCMP in 2001’s provincial election I thought this was absolutely fantastic. A weekend brainstorming conference led to moving back to the very spot he had left to establish The BCMP Bookstore and BCMP. I held the position of Deputy Financial Agent and Executive Assistant to the Party President.
We hired Matthew Johnson to be our campaign manager who came with a credible list of credentials and a scandalous past. The team was perfect and the race was on to get 79 candidates in 79 ridings by a tight deadline. Recruiting for the BCMP of course was a difficult task. Convincing anybody not to worry about the consequences of coming out of the closet and agreeing to marijuana legalization wasn’t easy. We searched every riding until we found someone if we didn’t we sent anyone that was in our world to run in that riding, including myself. It was imperative to get 79. This would prove a point to Canada and the rest of the world that a first time political party could run a full slate and be the BCMP. Our platform was based on libertarian philosophy and one’s own rights.
Nervous, but full of courage, I flew up to Dawson Creek (which is in the northern part of the province) to begin my campaign for Peace River South. I needed to collect 50 signatures in order to be on the voting ballot. Within a day I had gotten my signatures and filed my paperwork with elections BC to represent the BCMP in the riding of Peace River South. I celebrated that evening with my supporters at The Alaska Café and Pub, handing out copies of Cannabis Culture and BCMP literature. I was so proud of myself for walking into the majority of the business’s in my riding and campaigning such an important issue, even if a few couldn’t help but giggle at the thought of a political party being about MARIJUANA.
Northern BC differs from southern, but most agree that cannabis should be legal. I flew back to home base and started living in Marc’s guest bedroom during the election. We exhausted ourselves daily during the campaign. Matthew was of constant support and strength to Marc and I, his political know how led us to the 4% we did get in the final results of the election.
Of course, we did this with all of the 79 courageous candidates that fearlessly handed out pamphlets and buttons to get the awareness and attention Marijuana needs to end prohibition. This will be an experience that I cherish for the rest of my life, quite an accomplishment for me as a young woman with Crohn’s disease. Only 11 out of 79 candidates were women.
flew back up to my riding of Peace River South and participated in debates that made not only my hands sweat but my armpits as well! Speaking in front of hundreds in the community, along side my 5 male opponents, all with differing views and lifestyles, gave me a stage to prove my existence and theories about marijuana to a group eager to learn.
My role in the 2005 provincial election changed and I became the Vice-President and Financial Agent for the BCMP. Kirk Tousaw, formerly of the BC Civil Liberty’s Union and lawyer, managed our election.
44 candidates and a low budget still got us a tremendous amount of press and attention to the issue of legalization. Someday I hope that we get a seat in the House or that it won’t matter any more. As for me, well, I still want to be Prime Minister!