Fireworks were expected at Vancouver city hall Tuesday as “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery was forced to defend himself at a business licence panel.
But the real drama went down outside council chambers.
A tense standoff developed between a dozen Emery supporters and police officers scheduled to testify at the hearing after a big bag of weed was discovered in an unattended backpack.
A documentary filmmaker was identified as the bag’s owner and he was grabbed by police and taken to a secluded area of city hall.
Meanwhile, the remaining officers held many of Emery’s supporters – all proponents for legalized marijuana
– at bay metres from the council chamber.
Terse words were exchanged as the activists lobbied for the man’s release and as police tried to protect the identity of undercover officers from the documentary crew.
The affair was finally defused when officers let the filmmaker go, although without his bag of bud.
The incident capped an otherwise uneventful day, as the business license panel heard from only one of nine scheduled witnesses.
The city’s chief license inspector, Barbara Windsor, testified Emery’s Avalon Sunsplash Ltd. company was denied business licenses for the 420 Convenience Store, Cannabis Culture Magazine and Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture Headquarters – all in the 300-block of W. Hastings St. – because of a 2004 trafficking conviction in Saskatchewan and police allegations of drug use in the building.
Outside city hall, Emery told reporters the businesses are legitimate.
“We’re talking about a convenience store here, a retail store, our offices: None of which sell marijuana or do anything illegal,” Emery said. “They won’t give us a license because it’s my name. It’s Marc Emery and they don’t want me downtown.”
The hearing has been put over until July 21 due to scheduling conflicts.
By MATT KIELTYKA