By Jeremiah Vandermeer
Canadian marijuana activist Marc Emery, imprisoned in the United States for selling cannabis seeds and using the money to fund projects like Cannabis Culture, has contracted the antibiotic-resistant superbug MRSA. Emery discusses his current health status in this exclusive interview with CC.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, is a type of bacteria that can cause hard-to-treat infections in humans and even be fatal if not looked after properly, though many contract the bug and have few or no serious problems.
“I’m in good health and the MRSA only becomes a problem really during surgery if I were to have it,” Emery told CC in an interview via the Corrlinks electronic mail system. “Even then, there are antibiotics that work with MRSA. However, I did contract it with the brown recluse spider-bite, which has left scarring and discoloration on my left buttock.”
Emery, who has three years left before his prison release date, said getting the bug is “definitely a concern”, but that he is currently healthy and feeling fine.
“The medical staff here have always looked at my ailments promptly,” he said. “Alas, there’s nothing I can do about it, it will recur over time, but it is only a problem if an infection gets into the organs, bloodstream, or that sort of thing.”
The bacteria was found after a sample was taken from a boil Emery suffered from sitting on hard surfaces while being bussed between prison locations last April.
“They took a culture from it then and that came back positive for MRSA,” he said. “But the swollen boil did subside over a two-week period.”
According to Emery’s wife Jodie, activist and current publisher of CC, a former inmate of Marc’s contracted the bug and had a leg amputated. He died shortly afterward.
“[He] had an amputation of his leg and he just died of complications, so that terrifies me to think that Marc was there at the same time and it could be the same sort of strain,” she told CBC News.
Marc says he is watching his health closely, but doesn’t expect things to change much.
“It isn’t expected to affect my daily life but I do have to work my utmost to stay healthy,” he said. “The prison diet is lacking in vegetables and essential vitamins and minerals to maintain optimum health. That said, I eat very little junk food, drink only water as a fluid, try to eat any healthy food here as often as possible.”
MRSA is common in US prisons and can spread quickly because of the close-quarters and poor health conditions of inmates.
“Prisoners get MRSA in high numbers, as do people in any contained institution like hospitals, schools, and prisons,” Marc said.
There have been a flurry of news reports since Jodie Emery announced the news to the public, with some commentators pointing to the irony that the “highly contagious MRSA bacteria has already caused more health problems for Marc Emery than dozens of years smoking pot“.
But the irony seems to be piling on, as cannabis has been found to be one of the best antibacterial agents capable of fighting the superbug. Recent studies show that cannabinoids “could soon outshine conventional antibiotics in the escalating battle against drug-resistant bacteria” including MRSA. Read more from the Journal of Natural Products (PDF).
“Marc suffering this sort of dangerous infection after being extradited and imprisoned in the U.S. — after harming nobody at all — proves the insanity of war on marijuana,” Jodie told Postmedia News.
Watch Jodie on CBC News in this video:
Go to FreeMarc.ca for more information on political prisoner Marc Emery.
Article From Cannabis Culture and used with special permission.