Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson Monday ordered that his country's most famous marijuana legalization advocate be extradited to the US to serve a five-year federal prison sentence. Erstwhile pot seed entrepreneur and Cannabis Culture magazine publisher Marc Emery turned himself in to authorities and is now in custody awaiting imminent extradition to the US.
Prior to his arrest in 2005, Emery was becoming an increasingly irritating burr under the saddle of prohibitionists on both sides of the border. He poured much of his pot seed profits into pro-pot political formations, both in Canada and across the border, agitating relentlessly for legalization as he vowed to "overgrow the government" and confronting then US drug czar John Walters when he visited Vancouver.
After Emery's arrest, then DEA administrator Karen Tandy issued a press release calling the bust a "significant blow to the US and Canadian marijuana trade, and to the marijuana legalization movement" and crowed about taking down Emery and his "propagandistic magazine."
But that was five years ago. Since then, Emery has continued to agitate for legalization, Cannabis Culture has continued to publish (albeit only online now), and he has used his own predicament as yet another tool toward his broader goal. He generated thousands of letters and phone calls to Ottawa in his support, as well as appeals from members of Parliament from all major parties.
Even on the steps of the British Columbia Supreme Court, where he turned himself over Monday morning, Emery was still talking. "I think the best thing that could happen to our movement is that the minister decides, foolishly, to extradite me. Canadians will be very, very angry and punish this government," he told reporters.
"If I'm extradited, I've told my supporters that every Conservative member of Parliament is to be hounded endlessly and unmercifully until they are defeated in the next or following elections," he said. "It's to be a life project for them as long as I am incarcerated in the United States or Canada."
Emery is seeking to serve his time in Canada, one of attorneys, Kirk Tousaw, told The Canadian Press. "The United States has already agreed to support Mr. Emery's treaty transfer back to Canada to serve his sentence here," Tousaw said. "We certainly would anticipate the minister of public safety would agree."
Emery, who has been arrested repeatedly for his marijuana activism, said he had no regrets. "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," Emery told reporters. "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 to consenting adults all over the world and the United States. I'm proud of what I've done, and I have no regrets."
On Tuesday, Vancouver New Democratic Party MP Libby Davies called on Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to "stop the extradition" of Emery by allowing him to serve his sentence in Canada. American officials were agreeable to that approach, she said, but "your government has refused to cooperate." Davies pointedly added that Emery was being extradited to serve time in the US "for actions that are not worthy of prosecution under Canadian laws."
Read the latest update on the Cannabis Culture web site for more info on the continuing campaign to free Marc Emery.