Sunday, January 20, 2008

'prince of pot' marc emery in plea bargain deal to avoid US extradition

MARC EMERY (pictured right), Vancouver's self-styled 'Prince of Pot', has agreed to a five-year prison term in a plea bargain with the American DEA who have been blackmailing him for years using money laundering and cannabis seed-selling charges.

Facing an extradition hearing on Jan. 21 (now adjourned) and the all-but-certain prospect of being kidnapped by the American authorities to spend the rest of his life in a US 'Gulag' prison cell, Emery has cut a deal with U.S. prosecutors to serve the five year sentence in Canada.

He hopes the deal will also save his two co-accused - Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams.
The three were arrested in August 2005 at the request of the United States and charged even though none had ventured south of the border.

If the deal is accepted by the courts in both countries (which is not certain), Emery said he will serve the full term and not be eligible for Canada's lenient get-out-of-jail-early rules.

Above: The case has received massive attention in Canada where the persecution of Emery has back fired on both the Americans and the Canadian government which is seen by many Canadians as giving up Canada's national sovereignty to it's unpopular bully neighbour. There have also been demonstrations in many parts of the world including London.

Above: Britain's 'Cannabis Grandma' supporting Marc Emery in an anti DEA demo outside the American embassy in London.

The level of the Canadian government's hypocrisy is shown by the fact that 'Health Canada' even recommended medical marijuana patients buy their seeds from Emery. From 1998 until his arrest, Emery even paid provincial and federal taxes as a "marijuana seed vendor" totalling nearly $600,000.

In recent coverage the Vancouver Sun strongly criticised the Canadian governments stance:

He is being hounded because of his success. The political landscape has changed dramatically as a result of Emery's politicking for cannabis. Emery challenged a law he disagrees with using exactly the non-violent, democratic processes we urge our children to embrace and of which we are so proud.

But along the way he has angered the anti-drug law-enforcement community - the same gang that insists we must continue an expensive War on Drugs that has failed miserably for more than a quarter century and does more harm than good.

Canadian police grew so frustrated that neither prosecutors nor the courts would lock up Emery and throw away the key, they urged their U.S. counterparts to do the dirty work. And that's what's wrong.

Emery is being handed over to a foreign government for an activity we are loath to prosecute because we don't think it's a major problem. His two associates were charged only as a way of blackmailing him into copping a plea.

It's a scandal.

Emery is being made a scapegoat for an anti-cannabis criminal law that is a monumental failure. In spite of all our pricey efforts during the last 40 years, and all the demonization of marijuana, there is more pot on our streets, more people smoking dope and more damage being done to our communities as a result of the prohibition.

There is a better way and every study from the 1970s Le Dain Commission onward has urged change and legalization.

Regardless of what you think of Emery, he should not be facing an unconscionably long jail term for a victimless, non-violent crime that generates a shrug in his own country. Emery is facing more jail time than corporate criminals who defrauded widows and orphans and longer incarceration than violent offenders who have left their victims dead or in wheelchairs.

And while he has long seemed to court martyrdom, Emery is by no means sanguine about what is happening. He is angry at local lawyers for failing to come up with a viable defence. "They had two years and $90,000 and they came up with nothing," he fumed. "John Conroy called me up and said 'take the deal - Michelle will die in jail. Michelle will die in jail!' What can I say to that?"

Rainey, who has a medical exemption to smoke marijuana, has Crohn's disease. Incarceration in the U.S. would deprive her of her medicine, and she fears it could lead to her death.

"It's an ugly situation but Marc expects miracles," Kirk Tousaw, one of the lawyers involved, told me. "There aren't any here."

He's right. Our extradition law puts Canadian citizens at the mercy of foreign governments and judges can't do much about it. Emery is being forced to accept a deal because not only are two of his friends in jeopardy if he doesn't, but also to go south for an unfair trial would mean serving as much as 20 years in prison, perhaps more.

One of his friends, for example, was handed a 30-year sentence for growing 200 plants. This is wrong.

If Emery has been breaking the law and must be jailed, our justice department should charge him and prosecute him in Canada. It's time for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to step in and say, sorry, Uncle Sam, not today - not ever."

If only there was even one newspaper in Britain that had the guts to tell the truth like this.

• Apart from being an honest, tax paying 'marijuana seed vendor', Marc Emery is the publisher of Canada's excellent 'Cannabis Culture' magazine.

Marc Emery on YouTube.

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