Pubdate: Sat, 30 Jul 2005
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2005, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Rod Mickleburgh
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)


VANCOUVER -- Marc Emery, Canada's most prominent pro-marijuana activist, is 
facing the possibility of life imprisonment in the United States for 
selling marijuana seeds over the Internet to U.S. customers.

In a stunning development, RCMP officers arrested the self-proclaimed 
"Prince of Pot" in Halifax yesterday after a U.S. federal grand jury 
indicted him on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds, 
conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money 

The charges stem from Mr. Emery's lucrative sale of marijuana seeds, an 
activity he has carried on from his Vancouver base with minimal legal 
penalty for 10 years.

"I've sold about four million seeds," the marijuana mogul boasted in a 2002 
media interview. "Unlike most other seed dealers, I use my real name and 
I'm easy to find."

U.S. drug-enforcement officials said they will seek Mr. Emery's extradition 
from Canada to stand trial in Seattle, where conviction on either of the 
marijuana charges carries a minimum prison term of 10 years to a maximum of 

Special Agent Rodney Benson of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency said Mr. 
Emery, 47, has distributed millions of cannabis seeds to U.S. customers 
over the years, earning as much as $3-million annually.

"I am pleased to announce that he is out of business as of today," Mr. 
Benson told a Seattle news conference. "His overblown arrogance and abuse 
of the rule of law will no longer be on display. Like other drugs, 
marijuana harms the innocents."

By mid-afternoon, an attempt to access Mr. Emery's business on the Internet 
produced a message, in large red letters: "Emery Seeds has been raided by 
the DEA and is shut down."

The arrest of Mr. Emery, also head of the B.C. Marijuana Party, was 
accompanied by a simultaneous Vancouver Police raid of party headquarters 
on the edge of the city's drug-ravaged Downtown Eastside.

Police were acting on a search warrant signed by Associate Chief Justice 
Patrick Dohm of the B.C. Supreme Court, who agreed there were reasonable 
grounds to believe that the three conspiracy charges "over which the United 
States of America has jurisdiction have been committed."

Mr. Emery's supporters, four of whom were carted away for lying down in 
front of a police van, were outraged by the day's events.

Puffing openly on marijuana, they pounded drums, chanted at passing 
motorists and brandished signs damning the DEA for intruding into Canada.

"I was completely shocked," said well-known pot activist David 
Malmo-Levine, who took his fight against Canada's marijuana laws to the 
Supreme Court of Canada.

"It's appalling for the U.S. to come in here and try to police our country. 
To arrest Canadians to face their penalties and their laws is completely 
wrong," he said, standing in front of an upside down U.S. flag with the 
words "DEA Go Away" on it.

Two other marijuana activists were also arrested in Vancouver on the same 
charges as Mr. Emery, at the request of U.S. authorities yesterday -- 
Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, 34, and Gregory Williams, 50.

Television footage showed an undercover officer wearing a balaclava 
bundling Mr. Williams into a police vehicle.

The extradition hearing is certain to highlight a clash between the 
Draconian drug laws of the United States and Canada's more benign approach 
to marijuana use.

Only last week, the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected a two-year jail term for 
a convicted marijuana grower as excessive, while Ottawa is moving to 
decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot.

Assistant U.S. attorney Jeff Sullivan said there is no chance of marijuana 
being legalized in the United States. "Marijuana is not a benign drug. 
There are more kids in treatment for addiction to marijuana than for all 
other illegal drugs combined," Mr. Sullivan claimed.

Last year, Mr. Emery spent two months in a Saskatoon jail for passing a 
joint around at a pro-pot rally, the only time he has been sent to prison 
for any of his 11 marijuana-related convictions in Canada.

U.S. officials praised the "outstanding co-operation" of Canadian 
law-enforcement agencies in their 18-month investigation of Mr. Emery's 
seed business, 75 per cent of which they said was aimed at Americans.
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