Pubdate: Wed, 03 Aug 2005
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2005, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Alan Young
Note: Alan Young, an associate professor of law at Osgoode Hall, has done 
legal work for Marc Emery in the past. He is the author of Justice Defiled: 
Perverts, Potheads, Serial Killers and Lawyers.
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)


Washington wants to take over the prosecution of those who flout Canada's 
marijuana laws. Ottawa should tell it to butt out, says law professor ALAN 


On July 27, in Halifax, RCMP officers arrested Marc Emery, Canada's 
self-styled "Prince of Pot," 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 laundering. Mr. 
Emery, who ran a lucrative marijuana seed business, may not be everyone's 
idea of a hero, but many Canadians are outraged by the Americans waging 
their war on drugs within our borders.

There is little doubt that Mr. Emery's seeds found their way into the hands 
of eager U.S. pot-smokers, and U.S. drug agents had a legitimate concern 
about the prince's business activities. However, this concern should have 
led to a request that Canadian police enforce our existing laws to sanction 
Mr. Emery. Instead, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency asked Canadian police 
to execute a wide-ranging search warrant in Mr. Emery's home town, 
Vancouver, and to deliver him and other Canadian marijuana activists to be 
prosecuted in the land of mandatory minimum punishments.

 From the Canadian perspective, Mr. Emery's constant flouting of our 
marijuana laws were tolerated and his activities seen as part and parcel of 
our continuing debate over marijuana law reform.

I recognize that the sale of viable cannabis seeds appears to be a crime 
both in Canada and the United States, and that there may be a legal basis 
for seeking extradition as these seeds found their way onto U.S. soil. But 
I'm deeply concerned about subjecting a Canadian citizen to the draconian 
laws of a foreign nation when we don't bother charging this person for 
violating our laws. A Canadian citizen is now exposed to U.S. drug 
sentences which border on cruel and unusual punishment -- for violating a 
law we rarely enforce in Canada.

Mr. Emery has publicly boasted about the size of his enterprise ("I sell 
four million seeds a year") and the DEA claims that he makes about 
$3-million a year from his seed sales.

But the Americans fail to mention that much of this money has been 
funnelled into legal challenges, compassion clubs, drug treatment centres 
and political activism.

Mr. Emery is not the kingpin of some British Columbian cartel, breaking the 
law for personal gain; rather, he is an activist who has flouted the law as 
a political statement and in order to acquire resources to change the law.

Had he had been prosecuted and convicted under Canadian law, he would 
probably receive a fine and a short prison term. It's unlikely that U.S. 
courts will respect or understand the political context of Mr. Emery's 
alleged criminality. In many aspects of criminal-justice policy, the 
differences between Canada and the United States have grown exponentially. 
When we extradite to the United States, we must recognize that we are 
sending someone to a very different legal and political culture.

In Canada we have a medical-marijuana program in which patients can 
lawfully use marijuana; in Oklahoma, an army vet who grew pot to cope with 
his own crippling arthritis was sentenced to 90 years in prison.

In dealing with the Americans, we must take care that mutual legal 
assistance does not become legal domination, as has the U.S. war on drugs 
in Latin America. The DEA's pursuit of the Prince of Pot isn't the first 
instance of Canada's deferring to U.S. drug-law enforcement policy.

One summer day in 2004, an off-duty Vancouver policeman was driving near 
Hope, B.C., when he was stopped by a Texas state trooper.

Constable David Laing, annoyed by the involvement of Texans on a Canadian 
highway, refused to submit to a random drug search.

A minute later, he was stopped by another trooper and an RCMP officer, who 
did a thorough search (they found no marijuana). Mr. Laing went to his 
lawyers; his civil suit was settled out of court.

The Texans later explained that they were taking part in a 
training-exchange program with the RCMP. Although the Texas program is 
unconstitutional by Canadian standards, our law enforcement officials were 
somehow convinced that there was much to be learned by letting U.S. 
officials violate the rights of Canadians on Canadian soil.

Imposing American values, including attitudes towards drugs, on the global 
village can only harm the U.S. in the long-term, by fuelling a growing 
anti-American sentiment.

In the case of the Prince of Pot, I hope that Canada's Minister of Justice 
will exercise his discretion to block this extradition if a court finds the 
request to be technically proper.

At a minimum, Irwin Cotler should refuse to extradite unless an undertaking 
is provided that Mr. Emery won't be subjected to the cruel minimum 
sentences if convicted in a U.S. court.

Mutuality dictates that the Americans show some respect for our legal and 
political values, as we do for theirs.

But we must show backbone to resist U.S. efforts to enforce their drug laws 
on our soil.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom