TORONTO, Canada - Canada's self-proclaimed 'Prince of Pot' is back with a vengeance.
Serving a nearly five-year sentence in a US prison has done little to shake Marc Emery's resolve to get marijuana legalized in his home country.
He, along with his pot-activist wife Jodie, vows to take on anti-cannabis conservatives in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government and to weed out the anti-pot constituencies in upcoming elections in 2015.
"I intend to continue lobbying for the legalization of marijuana and cannabis and I'll continue to smoke and lobby for pot," said the grey-haired activist who returned Tuesday after serving his sentence in a US prison for selling marijuana seeds to US clients.
Emery, a controversial Vancouver resident, has been lapping up the media limelight.
"I plan to hold rallies, speaking events and parades across Canada to mobilise the three million pot consumers and we would all push for Justin Trudeau's Liberals to get into government and get marijuana legalized in Canada," Emery told AFP while hopping from one TV studio to another on Wednesday.
Trudeau, an opposition Liberal leader who admitted to smoking pot since being elected to Parliament in 2008, has said he favors legalizing marijuana use.
He is now leading in the polls.
'Land of calm and peace'
Critics have warned that softening Canada's pot laws could provoke stress on ties with its neighbour and largest trading partner, the United States, where federal law prohibits the growing, sale and possession of marijuana.
Some have suggested it will increase cross-border smuggling and other woes that both countries would perhaps like to avoid.
Emery said he hopes that "lobbies in the US also succeed and (North America) becomes a land of calm and peace where there are no social or legal roadblocks in the way of smoking pot." He believes if the price is fixed at a dollar a gram on either side of the border, then there will not be smuggling or a sudden migration of pot smokers to Canada.
He added that the government will have to regulate the market to deter smuggling and cartelization of the trade.
He also hoped that legalizing the trade in marijuana will boost Canada's tourism industry and have a positive impact on the Canadian economy.
"During my time in jail I spent $18,000 just on emails and letters alone to get my voice across," said Emery, whose pot activism has led to 23 arrests both in Canada and the United States. He has never been prosecuted for drug crimes in Canada, however.
Of pot and public office
"People here in Canada know that I am not going to be deterred by the pressure from authorities and it took years to build this credibility. They also know that I am not fighting for any personal cause and that is why I am not running for office myself." However, Emery's activist wife Jodie intends to make a bid.
"We are going to be one voice in upcoming elections and will bring the change that people are looking for," she said in between calls booking appointments for her husband.
"It's just a matter of getting united and after the elections making sure that Liberals deliver on their promise of making marijuana and cannabis legal in Canada," she said, waving back at youngsters who recognised her on a downtown Toronto street.