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Prince of Pot Marc Emery Catches "Superbug" in US Prison

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #692)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

Canadian marijuana legalization activist Marc Emery has contracted a "superbug" while serving a US federal prison sentence for selling marijuana seeds, his wife, Jodie, told local media Sunday. Emery has been diagnosed with MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aurea), a painful infection that appears on the skin.

MRSA is widespread among US jail and prison populations with hundreds of reports of outbreaks being reported in the past decade. Some cases develop into necrotizing fasciitis, also known as "the flesh-eating disease." The US Bureau of Prisons has released guidelines for the management and control of the disease, which does not respond to many common antibiotics. For more information on the disease in the American gulag, visit the MRSA Infections News and Information web page on MRSA in jails and prisons.

Ironically, Technology Review reported last fall that chemicals found in marijuana plants "could soon outshine conventional antibiotics in the escalating battle against drug-resistant bacteria. The compounds, called cannabinoids, appear to be unaffected by the mechanism that superbugs like MRSA use to evade existing antibiotics," the Review noted, citing recently published scientific research.

Jodie Emery said Emery's MRSA problem began when he was bitten by a brown recluse spider while serving time at a Georgia prison, and the bite took months to heal. He was treated with antibiotics, but developed a painful boil while being transferred by bus to another prison in Mississippi. When prison doctors tested the boil, they discovered the MRSA infection.

"I was worried sick to hear it," she said, adding that he was forced to fight the bug without medication. The infection has stabilized, but Emery is still infected, she said. "I'm still very concerned. He has to be extra vigilant with any cuts or scrapes."

Emery, who made a small fortune selling pot seeds but gave most of it away to legalization activists in Canada and around the world, was sentenced to five years in prison in September 2010 after being extradited from Canada. A recent bid to serve the remainder of his sentence in his home country was rejected by prison authorities. He can try again in a little under two years.

In a Monday interview with the magazine he founded, Cannabis Culture, Emery said that while his infection was "definitely a concern," he was currently healthy and feeling fine.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anon (not verified)

If there was not such an over population problem in US prisons this would not happen.  It is because of the over crowding and lack of sanitation that US prisons are becoming more and more death chambers.  Prisons are big business just like selling cars; and with law enforcement more quota orientated today than "serving and protecting," cops have become nothing more than salespeople for the government, out there looking for crime and oftentimes creating it were it would not otherwise be.

We need prison reform!  And we need drug reform to make our society more humane and civilized.  And we need to stop treating law enforcement as a business with incentives to meet quotas, arrests, forfeitures, budgets, etc.

Mon, 07/11/2011 - 7:26pm Permalink
Anon (not verified)

BTW, someone should be sneaking Marc some cannabis oil.  Applied topically, Marc might beat this superbug.

Mon, 07/11/2011 - 8:34pm Permalink
Citizen Pain (not verified)

The State Departments of Public Health ought to  be all over this situation. If they're not, then some sharp lawyer needs to ensure they become involved... particularly in the case of private prisons. You know darn well that in any other service industry there are public health laws that must be enforced, or they shut the place of business down. Why isn't that the case with the prison systems?

Mon, 07/11/2011 - 9:39pm Permalink
kickback (not verified)

Does this "SuperBug" affect inmates more than prison staff ? Do CIA agents hold positions in American prisons? If an undercover CIA agent could connect you with a peanut butter sandwich that caused illness, would you be able to prove it? An apple maybe? Are prisons a good place to deal with people that pose a  threat to the establishment? Cannabis has health benefits that the establishment money is terrorfied of. Hence its prohibition. Ron Paul 2012.

Tue, 07/12/2011 - 1:11am Permalink
Anon (not verified)

In reply to by kickback (not verified)

Yes, this could have been a hit on Emery.  I would not put anything past these Nazi-like sociopath that keep telling us that 2+2= whatever they say it does.  And if you question their 'logic' then you are a conspiracy theorist or a truther, or a birther, or some other psy-ops label to isolate and discredit.  This should be a red flag for any critically thinking adult!!!!!!!

Your best defense is to stop watching TV (supporting corporate run media) and listening to mainstream news.  Just say no to the MSM!

Tue, 07/12/2011 - 12:30pm Permalink
Buzzby (not verified)

In reply to by kickback (not verified)


Does smoking marijuana make some people paranoid?  Does it make them see conspiracies where there is no evidence that they exist?

Is it the US government's fault that smoking all of that weed destroyed Emery's immune system?  Did the CIA get him addicted to marijuana in the first place?

Inquiring minds want to know!  Isn't reality bad enough without making up sensational BS?

Thu, 07/14/2011 - 3:51pm Permalink
Anon (not verified)

In reply to by Buzzby (not verified)

What are you, a troll or something?  "Reality" is inspiring and challenging, a great mystery.  A so-called conspiracy theory is nothing more than being a critical thinker when one encounters many variables.  Oh, and your a salesman too, in addition to being a troll, selling people on the 'the craziness' of being an independent thinker.

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 7:11am Permalink
Lessa (not verified)

In reply to by Buzzby (not verified)

Mrsa has nothing to do with a destroyed immune system. I have maybe smoked pot 20 times in my 41 years  and I had to have surgery for a rather bad MRSA infection on my stomach. I am a clean person and live in a very clean enviornment. There is no telling where you pick up bacteria in your daily life, in  this world today.

Sun, 07/17/2011 - 9:21pm Permalink
Gabriel Reed (not verified)

I've spent over 5 years in various prisons in Pennsylvania and can only note how clean they were kept at all times. For the prison, inmate labor is virtually free (7 to 50 cents an hour), so they have lots of people cleaning all parts of the prison everyday. Inmates have very little to do, and tend to keep their cells in pristine condition. Showers are also taken everyday, buy virtually everybody. There is a few mentally unstable people that have to be coerced into taking daily showers though. So for the most part MRSA in prisons doesn't have much to do with cleanliness, after all, it is a super-bug, it's even found in hospitals. Blame societies fear of the common cold, bacteria, viruses, and the over use of antibiotics, and antiseptics, but most of all blame the draconian laws from our fascist government for overcrowding...

Tue, 07/12/2011 - 11:45am Permalink
rita (not verified)

of human life is not an "unintended consequence" of the drug war; it's the WHOLE POINT.

Thu, 07/14/2011 - 12:33pm Permalink

I am running for The United States Congress on a platform AGAINST the War on Drugs.

Other than those who have vested financial interests in not seeing the truth –such as the Pharmaceutical, Tobacco, Alcohol, and Prison Industrial Complex/“Treatment” industries, -most people who talk about The War on Drugs agree that it is a failure on every front but what to do…? What can any one person do…?  On the day that I or anyone else who subscribes to my plan takes office in a position with pardon power, THE DRUG WAR IS OVER in that jurisdiction.  While a Governor or a President can’t write law or usually even determine what on the books is enforced, pre-emptive online pardons for drug law violations from that day forward will stop it on day one.  When coupled with a requirement that any distribution have occurred in warning covered packages while banning advertising promotions, usage will drop, -with a precipitous decline in the murders, corruptions, overdoses, environmental poisonings, funding of terrorist/criminal elements, wrong or “right” house raids, horrific imprisonments and other problems caused by the War on Drugs.  -Marc Romain 

Thu, 07/14/2011 - 5:43pm Permalink
Ullern (not verified)

Marc Emery was plea-bargain manipulated into US prison for acts not illegal in Canada where he did them - selling cannabis-seed.

The DEA used BIG resources in going after Emery, in a shamefully unprincipled, person-oriented (not crime-oriented) action. The DEA wanted to make an example of Emery, and have done - a very bad one. The case is disgusting No justice ruling, only power ruling.

What a weird case this will look like to history (if we humans and our records survive our onslaught on the plant-world and the rest of the Biosphere we depend on): a man forced from one supposedly sovereign country to another, where under threat of long, unfair imprisonment he is made to accept 5 years incarceration - all for spreading the seed of one of the longest surviving cultural plants in use on Earth, a plant still today giving at least 300 million people worldwide (4 % - UN numbers) much happiness regularly.

This would be a great science fiction scenario, if written to give warning of how downtrodden reason may become in the world.

And still under incarceration the mistreatment and indirect persecution goes on: Emery, previously healthy, is infected with a "prison-bug" that threatens his life. He should be awarded millions of dollars in damages from the USA.

Best of luck to this prince of reason.









Thu, 07/14/2011 - 7:33pm Permalink

Let's not make too much of this.  He had a boil.  Boils are a very common skin condition that probably most people will get some time or other.  They're usually the product of a Gram+ bacterium, and S. aureus is a very common cause of such skin infections.  In fact if it's just a boil, that's a fairly minor, localized problem compared to some types of skin infection Gram+ bacteria can produce: impetigo and erysipelas.

OK, so it turned out to be a methicillin-resistant strain.  We don't know how many of us, if we were to do sensitivity tests of the various Strep species our skin is colonized by, have methicillin resistant ones.  It may be that very many of us are so colonized and never know because we never develop an infection, i.e. symptoms.  So now we know that Mr. Emery was, and for all we know may still be, colonized by MRSA.

Sure, he could develop necrotizing fasciitis, or who knows what else (including the more prosaic but still problematic infections of the type I mentioned above).  But chances are he won't.  The people who get these opportunistic infections do so because of "host factors" -- i.e. conditions of their body that predispose them to infection, or more severe infection, by organisms which aren't that virulent to begin with.  An example would be an old lady I knew who was bedridden and had to be hospitalized from some cause I've forgotten (pneumonia, maybe), developed bed sores that led to a bone infection, and eventually died from kidney failure as a result of the antibiotics that had to be used against the infection.  If Mr. Emery is not in such a condition, the odds are overwhelmingly against his progressing to such a case, regardless of how often he does or doesn't wash his hands.

At some future time were he tested again, he may turn out to no longer be colonized by MRSA, as his skin flora will have turned over.  OTOH, MRSA could be prominent in the population of Gram+ bacteria on his skin the rest of his life.  AFAIK, efforts to sterilize the skin, as for instance germicidal soaks, are not recommended.

Thu, 07/14/2011 - 9:16pm Permalink
Thinkenstein (not verified)

Roman doctors used to use garlic as an antibiotic for nasty sword wounds, etc.  I tried it once on a localized growing bacterial infection that wasn't responding to drugstore treatment. It could have been from a spider bite.  Anyway, I used a poultice of garlic on it, which "nuked" the area, killing the infection and a little area around it.  Everything healed nicely. 

Fri, 07/15/2011 - 12:12am Permalink
zarfo (not verified)

I was originally infected in the hospital with this back in 99, and the problem is that once you get it you never get rid of it. I have had to go back on antibiotics several times(at least 6X) since then to try to get it under control. They told me the old spider bite story, but it usually erupts from some small skin lesion like a zit and the next day it is like a strawberry. It then will spread all over your own skin until you get on a set of 2 differerent antibiotics(Gram+/-) to kill it off. the drugs make you feel like shit and it takes about 2 weeks to get over the infection. It then will come back on you when you have a weakened immune system. I think it is a plague for life once you get it. I still get it about 2X a year.

Sat, 07/16/2011 - 7:53pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

In reply to by zarfo (not verified)

Unlike antibiotics, bacteria do not become immune to silver, and if it is safe to use in the eyes of newborns, it is safe to use on infections.  Take some internally, too, when you have beat the infection follow up by taking some probiotics to replace the good bacteria the silver will kill off in your intestines while you are taking it.  There are different companies providing silver colloid in varying strengths, go to your local health food or supplement store, they are almost certain to carry it in one brand or another and maybe will carry more than one brand.

Mon, 07/18/2011 - 3:42am Permalink

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