‘Prince of Pot’ Extradited to the United States

Update: (We have just learned that he has been extradited as of 1:00pm today)

May 10, 2010 – Calling himself a “great Canadian” who has spent his life advocating for the legalization of marijuana, the self-styled “Prince of Pot” turned himself in Monday morning to face possible extradition to the United States.

Marc Emery’s fate now lies in the hands of the federal justice minister, who must sign off on Mr. Emery’s extradition to serve a five-year prison sentence.

“I think of myself as a great Canadian – I’ve worked my whole life for individual freedom in this country, I’ve never asked for anything in return,” Mr. Emery told reporters outside B.C. Supreme Court in downtown Vancouver, with his wife by his side and a throng of supporters carrying “Free Marc” signs.

“And now I will be possibly handed over to the United States for a five-year sentence for the so-called crime of selling seeds from my desk. I’m proud of what I’ve done, and I have no regrets.”

Mr. Emery has been out on bail since last fall, when he was released from custody as the federal justice minister made a decision on whether to extradite him.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson must decide whether to turn Mr. Emery over to American authorities, keep him in Canada, or again request more time to make his final decision. The minister was not immediately available for comment.

Mr. Emery has been eligible for extradition since early January.

Mr. Emery made a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors last year, agreeing to plead guilty in connection to his Vancouver-based seed-selling business in return for a sentence of five years in prison.

American prosecutors allege through Mr. Emery’s magazine and website he has sold about four million marijuana seeds and that 75 per cent of those went to customers in the United States.

Documents obtained by Mr. Emery’s lawyer revealed that a U.S. undercover agent posing as a marijuana seed buyer worked in Canada to secure the criminal charges against Mr. Emery south of the border.

The U.S. undercover operation is described in a briefing memo to Justice Minister Rob Nicholson dated Feb. 10, 2010, which outlines the case against Mr. Emery.

The memo said numerous mail order purchases were made by U.S. undercover agents between March 2004 and March 2005 and an undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement agent was then sent to Vancouver.

The memo said the agent was under the supervision and working with the approval of Vancouver’s police department.

Allegations against Mr. Emery include that staff at his Cannabis Culture store in Vancouver counselled the agent on how to smuggle seeds across the border and how to grow the marijuana.

“It is alleged that [the store employee] told agent Mendez that border inspectors do not conduct strip searches of females, so she should hide the seeds somewhere on her body,” the memo stated.

The documents say the DEA agent made several deals to purchase marijuana seeds in exchange for cash and that Mr. Emery knew she was going to smuggle the seeds over the border.

The information was obtained under the federal Access to Information Act by Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer and former Marijuana Party campaign manager.

In addition to his seed-selling business and marijuana paraphernalia store, Mr. Emery is the president of the B.C. Marijuana Party.

He was originally charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana and money laundering. Two of his Cannabis Culture employees were also accused, but charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement.

The minister’s memo states the federal government has received more than 2,700 letters about Emery and virtually all of them ask that Mr. Nicholson refuse to extradite him.

Mr. Emery said he has public support on his side.

“I feel it will be very politically unpopular if [the minister] proceeds with the extradition because, let’s say five to seven million Canadian’s use marijuana … I have the support of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of Canadians.”

If he is extradited to the United States, Mr. Emery hopes he’ll be allowed to return to Canada to serve out his jail sentence.  Source.

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