CANADA: This city has its own Prince of Pot, cannabis promoter Marc Emery. But he’s minor royalty next to Don Briere. Or Donald Joseph Briere, as he’s known inside the Canadian justice and penal systems. He was once this country’s most prolific marijuana producer and distributor, with 33 illegal growing operations hidden across B.C.
In the late 1990s, before an informant ratted them out to police, Mr. Briere and his cohorts were growing and selling two tonnes of pot annually. “That’s a lot of weed,” he laughs. “We were outlaws. My share was $5-million a year.”
He made B.C. bud famous. And he paid a price. Mr. Briere was convicted in 2001 on charges that included drug cultivation, possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of a prohibited firearm. He was sentenced to four years in prison. While on parole in 2004, he was busted again, this time for running an illegal marijuana shop on Vancouver’s hipster high street, Commercial Drive. For that blatant infraction, he was convicted and sentenced to another 2.5 years behind bars.
Mr. Briere is now 63, and with all the legal hassles and two heart attacks behind him, one might think he’d have retirement in mind. Far from it. The irrepressible pot impresario is back in the marijuana trade, making his mark in retail.