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Marijuana Advocate's Court Appearance Draws Pot-Smoking Protesters

Herb Fellow

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VANCOUVER - The skunky smell of marijuana wafted into the main lobby of the provincial court Tuesday as British Columbia's self-proclaimed "prince of pot" attended a court hearing on his plea bargain with the United States.

Marc Emery showed up with an entourage of marijuana advocates, some carrying placards and others wearing capes proclaiming their support for the well-known marijuana crusader. But his court appearance was delayed for a few weeks while lawyers on both sides of the Canada, U.S. border negotiate a plea bargain over Emery's sale of marijuana seeds via the Internet.

The plea agreement would see Emery spend six to nine months in a U.S. jail. The remainder of the 10-year sentence would be served in a Canadian prison.

"I'm confident the United States Justice Department will see the good in this deal and would want to avoid a very - I think-prickly and unpopular prosecution," Emery told reporters following the brief appearance. Despite the prospect of spending years in prison, the 50-year-old crusader said he wouldn't change a thing.

"I'm proud of what I did. I won't be making any apologies or any kind of repentance or contrition and the Unites States Justice Department is aware of that," he said. "I consider what I've done to be a great patriot's act."

Emery has flouted Canadian marijuana laws for decades and even went on a cross-Canada tour, smoking cartoon-sized joints in front of city police departments.

He spent two months in a Saskatoon jail after one of his pro-pot protests.

American authorities started the extradition process three years ago when a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Emery on conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds into the U.S. over the Internet. His acceptance of the prison term comes in exchange for no jail time for his two co-accused Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey.

"I'm not particularly afraid of a hearing or five years in jail if that's the price I have to pay to get my co-accused out of jail," Emery said.

Rainey doesn't want to see any of them go to prison.

"I don't feel it's fair that Marc would have to sacrifice himself for us in any way whatsoever," she said.

Rainey said prosecuting them in the U.S. for what is "a victimless crime," is a sovereignty issue.

"We need to stand up for our rights in this country as Canadians," she said.

Rainey has Crohn's disease and has a legal exemption to use marijuana for medical purposes. She said she certainly wouldn't be allowed to use her medicine in a U.S. prison.

"I would die in a U.S. prison," she said outside the court. "I have used cannabis now for the past 12 years. I don't use any pharmaceuticals and it saved my life."

The case is to return to court Feb. 6.

"The anticipation and hope is no hearing is going to be required," Emery's lawyer, Ian Donaldson, told B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Patrick Dohm.

Source: The Canadian Press
Copyright: 2008 The Canadian Press
Contact: Staff
Website: The Canadian Press: Marijuana advocate's court appearance draws pot-smoking protesters
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