What we should learn from Marc Emery

dimanche 23 mai 2010 ·

Recently, we have learned that Marc Emery - the self proclaimed "prince of pot" - was going to be extradited to the United States for selling marijuana plant seeds by the internet. In a way, it is sad that he is going to jail for a victimless crime. In another way, I see myself unable to feel bad for Mr.Emery.

Don't get me wrong, I have always been in favour of legalizing marijuana and Mr.Emery in no way deserved to go to jail. However, I once had the chance to meet Mr.Emery at a libertarian conference in Ontario. No one should take this "chance" I had as something I cherish. The attention-deprived Emery romanticized his role in the fight for legalizing marijuana and actually said he "enjoyed going to jail". He even - so humbly - likened himself to Nelson Mandela. In his eyes, he was a martyr of the cause.

Lets set aside the fact that I actually end up siding with Emery concerning marijuana legalization, I fail to see how he furthers his causes by a) ending up in jail and b) acting as if he was endowed by God with a mission to legalize marijuana.

Wraping oneself in the gadsden flag before going to jail may seem romantic for the likes of Marc Emery but it is not helpful. In fact, acting in such a fashion probably undermines the cause of those who end up on the same side as Emery. When I met Emery for the first time, I felt like I could never be seen associated with somebody like him because he looked - and acted - in a fashion that undermined the same policy prescription that I defended. Romanticism in politics is probably the most terrible thing I have seen, it leads to bad judgment and nearly puritanical denunciations of insignificant variations within a given movement.

To proof, during the course of the seminar where I met Emery, I dared criticize his romanticization and told him that he was only a liability to his own cause by acting this way. I got called "a statist" and a "servant of the Leviathan" - a weird accusation given my strong conservative-libertarian leanings and my very presence at a libertarian conference. Even within the audience, a strong masse of individuals believed that Emery was right yet was probably also a liability.

So in a way, during the course of his advocacy of legalizing marijuana, Emery has probably been a huge benefit in order to rally the hardcore partisans. On the whole however, it is reasonable to assert that he was a liability and that we should learn from him to avoid romanticism ...and jail at the same time.

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Bryan Breguet est candidat au doctorat en sciences économiques à l’université de Colombie-Britannique. D’origine Suisse, il a passé les cinq dernières années au Québec au cours desquelles il s’est engagé en politique provinciale malgré le fait qu’il ne possédait pas encore la citoyenneté canadienne. Il détient un B.Sc en économie et politique ainsi qu’une maitrise en sciences économiques de l’université de Montréal. Récipiendaire de plusieurs prix d’excellences et bourses, il connaît bien les méthodes quantitatives et leurs applications à la politique.

Vincent Geloso holds a master’s degree in economic history from the London School of Economics, with a focus on business cycles, international development, labor markets in preindustrial Europe and the new institutional economics. His research work examined the economic history of the province of Quebec from 1920 to 1960. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from the Université de Montréal. He has also studied in the United States at the Washington Centre for Academic Seminars and Internships. Mr. Geloso has been an intern for the Prime Minister’s cabinet in Ottawa and for the National Post. He has also been the recipient of a fellowship from the Institute for Humane Studies and an international mobility bursary from the Ministère des Relations internationales du Québec. Currently, he is an economist at the Montreal Economic Institute.

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