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Plea Deal For Prince of Pot Means Jail Time For Marijuana Activist In The U.S.

Herb Fellow

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VANCOUVER - Canada's so-called prince of pot is planning for prison after reaching a plea bargain with U.S. officials over his Internet sales of marijuana seeds.

But Marc Emery remains defiant, despite the prospect of serving a five-year-jail term and has no regrets over his pot-promoting antics through the years. "I'm really pleased and proud of what I've done," Emery said of his legacy. "I wish I could have done more to piss the U.S. government off actually."

Emery, 50, said Monday that U.S. prosecutors made the offer to his lawyer for a 10-year-prison term that would mean he would have to spend at least five years in prison, most of it in Canada.

The agreement also spares his co-accused Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams from doing jail time.

Emery said that's especially important for Rainey, who smokes marijuana to control symptoms of Crohn's disease, a painful digestive-tract disorder.

It was one of the reasons he considered the offer.

"Well, what if something did happen in jail to her?" said Emery. "You know I would always be responsible."

In July 2005, Emery was arrested in Halifax on an extradition request from the United States.

A U.S. federal grand jury had indicted the self-proclaimed "prince of pot" on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds, conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

The charges related to his sale of marijuana seeds to U.S. customers over the Internet.

Emery still has trouble recognizing what he did wrong.

"There's no victim in my case," he said. "There's nobody who's claiming I hurt them ... so you're talking hundreds of thousands of happy customers."

For almost 15 years, Emery has been an outspoken advocate of the cannabis culture, even creating a magazine and forming the B.C. Marijuana Party.

Three years ago, he travelled across the country lighting up giant joints at pro-marijuana rallies in front of police stations in his quest to legalize pot.

He spent two months in a Saskatoon jail after he was arrested passing around a marijuana cigarette at a pro-pot rally.

"I'm a victim of political advocacy," he said Monday.

Alan Young, a professor at Osgood Hall Law School at York University, said extradition requests from the United States are very difficult to fight and the plea gives Emery some certainty.

"It looked a bit hopeless," Young said. "That's not to say a great fight could not have been mounted."

Young, who has known and worked with Emery since 1990, said on that level he's relieved that Emery knows the sentence he will face.

But on a political level the sentence is a travesty, he said.

"I think it's remarkable that I could cripple someone and put them in hospital ... and get less time that Marc will serve," Young said.

"It's grossly disproportionate by Canadian standards. But, unfortunately, by American standards, it may appear to be a kiss."

Emery said he's always been open about his actions, lobbying and meeting politicians such as Sen. Larry Campbell and New Democrat Leader Jack Layton and even filing income tax on his seed sales.

"Nobody ever treated me like a drug dealer in this country," he stated.

That wasn't the case in the U.S. after his arrest in 2005.

"The tentacles of the Marc Emery criminal enterprise reached out across North America to include all 50 states and Canada," Rodney Benson of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency told reporters in Seattle.

The plea agreement still needs the approval of the Canadian Department of Justice, which Emery believes won't oppose it.

"Because it spares the Conservative party government ... with a looming election, this awkward decision of whether to extradite me," he said.

"In a sense, it takes the heat off the government too, which I'm really disappointed by because one of the great things about having a crisis is something politically good might come of it."

Alain Charette, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, said the plea is a negotiation between other parties and doesn't yet involve the department.

He noted in all such extradition decisions, the minister is left with the final decision.

Emily Langlie, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle, said it was not appropriate for officials there to comment on the plea agreement.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration did not respond to a request for an interview.

Source: The Canadian Press
Copyright: 2008 The Canadian Press
Contact: The Canadian Press
Website: The Canadian Press: Plea deal for Prince of Pot means jail time for marijuana activist in the U.S.


Mr.Emery has never shirked responsibility for his actions.That he concocted a deal in which his co- accused were exonerated is admirable.I wish there'd been a better outcome to the situation but with the neo-con reform party government currently in power in Ottawa.Mr.emery was probably smart to take this deal.To have counted on mandatory minimum Harper to save him would have been both foolish and dumb.I may not like Emery's personal politics but he did the honorable thing here.Two people are free to carry on with their lives because of what he did.


:60:There's no question that this was the best of a really dismal situation.I've been where Mr.Emery's been for the last few years.It's really hard on the nerves and eventually the jail time is a merciful change from the terror of awaiting trial.In this case,with the US "justice?" system in the wings.It must have been truly terrifying.When you've been thinking about life in prison for a while.5 years seems a small price to pay.I'm sure Mr.Emery will do the minimum amount of time and will be well taken care of.
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