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Feature: The Clock is Ticking on Canadian "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery's Extradition

Canadian "Prince of Pot" Marc Emery's battle to avoid being extradited to the US to serve a five-year federal prison sentence for selling pot seeds over the Internet continues as the clock ticks down toward May 10 -- the date by which Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is to decide whether to okay his extradition or not. Emery and his supporters are fighting to the bitter end, and they're picking up some significant support along the way.
Marc and Jodie Emery (courtesy Cannabis Culture)
Last month, members of all three major English speaking political parties, including the ruling Conservatives, handed in 12,000 signatures on petitions to parliament demanding he not be extradited and addressed the House of Commons on the issue. Shortly thereafter, the French speaking Bloc Quebecois announced it, too, was joining the cause of keeping Emery in Canada.

Emery was Canada's best known marijuana legalization advocate and a leading funder of marijuana reform groups there and in other countries when he was arrested in Vancouver on a US warrant for marijuana seed-selling after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Seattle. He faced up to life in prison under the US charges.

Emery, his supporters, and other marijuana reformers have argued that he was arrested for political reasons -- for his support of the legalization cause -- and the gleeful words of then DEA administrator Karen Tandy provided valuable ammunition for the claim. Emery's arrest was "a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the US and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement," Tandy said in a statement the day of the bust.

"His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today. Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on," Tandy gloated.

For four years, he and his employees and fellow indictees, Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams, negotiated with federal prosecutors, before Rainey and Williams struck plea deals that allowed them to simply remain in Canada. Then, last September, Emery himself agreed to a plea bargain that would see him serve five years in US prison.

Emery was detained in Canada on September 28 and was jailed until mid-November before he was released pending the justice minister's decision on whether to approve his removal to the United States. Since then, the campaign to block his extradition has gone all out. Even in prison, Emery did podcasts -- "potcasts," the magazine calls them -- and since his release, he has been as media-friendly as ever. He has used his Cannabis Culture magazine as a bully pulpit and established a No Extradition! web site to further the cause.

The high point of the campaign so far came on March 12 when three members of parliament, Conservative MP Scott Reid, New Democratic MP Libby Davies, and Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh stood before parliament in Ottawa to deliver the petitions. All three told the Commons that extraditing Emery for what is considered a non-serious offense in Canada was unfair.

MP Reid, a Conservative leader in the House, reminded the Commons that the Extradition Act specifies that the justice minister "shall refuse to surrender a person when that surrender could involve unjust or undue or oppressive actions by the country to which he is being extradited."

Reid pointed out that Health Canada used to refer medical marijuana patients to Emery's seed bank. He also noted that Canadian courts had found that $200 fines were appropriate for seed sellers, while Emery faced up to life for the same offense in the US.

"It appears to me that we have assisted a foreign government arresting a man for doing something that we wouldn't arrest him for doing in Canada," said MP Dosanjh. "As a former premier and a former attorney-general, I sense a certain degree of unfairness in the process. Countries don't usually extradite people to countries where they could face inordinate penalties."

"Many dedicated individuals have collected approximately 12,000 petitions reflecting a strong belief that Mr. Emery or any Canadian should not face harsh punishment in the US for selling cannabis seeds on the Internet when it is not worthy of prosecution in Canada," said MP Davies. "The petitioners call on Parliament to make it clear to the Minister of Justice that such an extradition should be opposed. I am very pleased to present this; I think it is a very strong reflection of Canadians' views on this matter and we hope that the Parliament of Canada will act on this, and certainly the Minister of Justice will take this into account."

"My prospects are getting better," said an ever optimistic Emery. "There have been more than 50,000 communications -- phone calls, letters, emails -- to the justice minister, and we have members of all four major political parties, including the governing party, presenting petitions urging the minister not to extradite. We also have the last three mayors of Vancouver agreeing to sign a statement urging the government not to extradite."

Support is palpable in his adopted hometown, Emery said. "I can't go 50 feet in this city without people stopping me on the street," he said from his downtown Vancouver building. "I have lots of support in this province and throughout the country. I enjoy a lot of positive affirmation. For me, this has been excellent -- I've been giving interviews all over the world, and the movie 'Prince of Pot' is being translated into Mongolian! The national TV network there has permission to do two documentaries on pot, and I'm in both of them."

Now, all eyes turn toward Justice Minister Nicholson. A month from now, he will decide whether to extradite Emery or not -- or he may punt. The minister has the option of applying for an extension on his decision.

There is precedent for the minister to seek an extension, said attorney Kirk Tousaw, who has worked on Emery's case. "Renee Boje was committed for extradition, and the decision sat on the desk of three different justice ministers for five years," he pointed out. "Renee was a US citizen who committed offenses in America, so she seemed like a much more reasonable prospect for extradition than Marc, who has never gone to America or committed any crimes there."

In the meantime, the campaign to keep Emery in Canada continues to gather support and argue the position that his was a politically motivated prosecution. "If the minister believes the prosecution to be politically motivated, he is prohibited from extraditing," said attorney Kirk Tousaw, who has worked on Emery's case. "I don't know if he will take that position. The minister may need a lot of time to consider his options."

The calculations may be as much political as legal, Tousaw said. "This is a minority Conservative government that is attempting to pass unpopular mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes, and there will be an election sometime this year or early next year," he argued. "I think that extraditing Marc Emery will be politically costly to the Conservative Party. I'm not sure they can afford to do it if they want to form a majority government."

"The government does want to extradite me," said Emery, "but the public pressure not to do it is substantial. There is nothing to be gaining by extraditing me, and it will piss off a couple of million voters in the next election."

A month from now, we will know whether the Conservative government is willing to sacrifice the gadfly Emery on the altar of the drug war, or whether it is too concerned about the potential backlash to either reject extradition or postpone the decision.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Jean Boyd's picture



free mark emery

do not allow the states to kidnap mark emery , a man who has helped so many. put a collar on the dea and let the canadian government take care of their own business

As an American citizen Im

As an American citizen Im ASHAMED and heart broken that our govt would attempt to brow beat a great neighbor like Canada. The entire 'drug war' is a money-wasting fiasco. Laws are applied subjectively. Our jails are full of innocent people. Our Liberty is being eroded for the sake of making a few people at the top wealthy. We can no longer afford to bear the tax burden of our leaders bad judgment. Our govt has no Constitutional basis to mandate ANY life style choices.

The good news is that there is hope. At the state and local level in the US, law enforcement is starting to turn a blind eye to these ridiculous infractions. I can assure all of you that I am a registered voter - and I will continue doing everything I can to vote these jokers out of office. We have strong, outstanding candidates that do support common sense initiatives.

Mark Emery

In my humble opinion the USA Government is totally wrong in their drug policies and totally stupid to maintain the harshness in which they persue them. What is a lottle pot going to hurt when we have so many more isurmountable problems to deal with? Beats me.. They'd rather lock up a person that is harming no one and destroy their fmilies just because they chose to smoke marijuana than get drunk all the time. I have seen drunks destroy lives, their own and everyone elses around them in a split second.
If you choose to use marijuana then do it responsibly. If you chose to use alcohol ( more than one drink a day) then get help for God's sake.

Marc Emery ... alcohol

How right you are!! All the lawyers I've ever spoken to have said that of the two drugs (alcohol and marijuana), alcohol is by far the most dangerous. And as far as being beneficial, marijuana and its sister/cousin plant - hemp, has so many variegated uses that a ban on their growth is not only short sighted but damned stupid!

Mark Emery

In my humble opinion the USA Government is totally wrong in their drug policies and totally stupid to maintain the harshness in which they persue them. What is a lottle pot going to hurt when we have so many more isurmountable problems to deal with? Beats me.. They'd rather lock up a person that is harming no one and destroy their fmilies just because they chose to smoke marijuana than get drunk all the time. I have seen drunks destroy lives, their own and everyone elses around them in a split second.
If you choose to use marijuana then do it responsibly. If you chose to use alcohol ( more than one drink a day) then get help for God's sake.

Mark Emery

In my humble opinion the USA Government is totally wrong in their drug policies and totally stupid to maintain the harshness in which they persue them. What is a lottle pot going to hurt when we have so many more isurmountable problems to deal with? Beats me.. They'd rather lock up a person that is harming no one and destroy their fmilies just because they chose to smoke marijuana than get drunk all the time. I have seen drunks destroy lives, their own and everyone elses around them in a split second.
If you choose to use marijuana then do it responsibly. If you chose to use alcohol ( more than one drink a day) then get help for God's sake.

Jean Boyd's picture

Free All Canadians in US Goulags

The Canadian people are already pissed off. Enough is enough. Keep Marc home in Canada. For years, Canadians visiting and traveling in the U.S. have been detained, inerrogated, arrested, imprisoned and harassed. In Canada the rules are different. And I say this to Harper, "Why don't you wake up and smell the roses and all of nature and get over it." And free all Canadian prisoners in the U.S. and ALL prisoners unecessarily locked up. Make the borders friendly, as they once were.

I want Marc Emory here as a patriot, not for jail

Please Obama, don't let this happen. It would mean a whole lot to me if you dropped this whole case. Please don't put Marc in prison. He sold seeds, man. That's it, seeds. Or weed too? It was seeds and buds then. Who cares.

Where you gonna put him. You can't keep drugs out of prisons, so the irony of Marc Emory smoking a doobie in federal prison is going to strike a ironic nerve. Then what? Are you going to double down on the guy because he got high in jail? Are you going to make an example of him? Seriously? There are $12 billion dollars of weed in California right now. If you want to know where the seeds are, they are here.

Let's talk Karen Tandy. Chappaquiddick.

Bringing Marc here will not really further any political goals. He's the Prince of Pot, but so what. Most Americans have no idea who he is. If you bring him over then people will know who he is. The only political goal I can think of is to legalize pot. That's what will happen because Marc will only become stronger. He will be a gravitational center for the Canadian legalization movement. Here, people won't have any idea who he is. Then one day there will be a photo of him smoking a doobie in the federal slammer. That will be the ray of light scene in the sci-fi movie when the evil empire dragon is filled with light from within.

Somehow in five years, Marc can find a source there.

He's more trouble than he's worth. Letting him go is the right thing to do. Thank you for your time.
Carmen L. Brown

Stand up to Big Brother !

First , let me say I am a U.S. citizen and I am appalled at all this. The U.S. is bankrupt and surviving on foreign loans to prop it up and yet continues to pull stunts like this.
My prayers go out to Marc, his family and friends. In my eyes he is a patriot !! Cannabis is a sacred plant. Here for the benifit of mankind and God bless Marc for taking a stand on it's and mankind's behalf.
I was a child during the Vietnam war. But I remember Canada protecting the U.S. citizens, back then, who had fled there (protesting the draft) from being extradited back to the U.S. to face charges. Please Canada do the same for one of your own now.

kiss kiss

The Canadian Justice Minister will hand over Marc because he is an ass kissing puppet of the US. If any politician in Canada had any balls this would not happen.

Don't let them take your sovereignty

Hi there everybody. I'm a US citizen, and an Oathkeeper. That means that I am a veteran of the US military and have chosen to keep my Oath of Service "To protect and defend the Constitution, against all enemies, both foreign and domestic". To me, what is happening to Marc is a threat to your National sovereignty, and you folks in Canada should NOT stand for it. Marc, thank you for all that you have done for liberty. Thank you for all that you've done to help your southern neighbors to acheive true liberty. Guys, make sure to not allow your government to join the North American Union also. That is also an attack on your soverignty, just ask yourselves, do you really want the leaders of the United States to have any say whatsoever on how you guys live your lives? God knows they haven't done a good job here in the US, they will stink just as bad or worse for you guys also.


It's spelled Marc. The "c" is for cannabis.


Wow, if you google and find out why we even have these cannabis laws or watch the movie called "grass" this becomes such a joke beyond measure.
CANADA do the right thing, you did not go to iraq. don't fuck this up.....
This battle against a medicinal plant that cannot make the pharmaceuticals any money needs to stop and making
criminals out of some of the most loving people on the planet is sick
Please stand up people! this cannot and must not happen
And if you go to the states, never admit that you ever smoked any, else you will not allowed entry and have to get a
special waver... you will be labeled a criminal!

My heart cries but things are changing!
Much love

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