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Registered: 07/06/10
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'Prince of Pot' Marc Emery Sentenced To Five Years in US Prison
    #475402 - 09/11/10 06:23 AM (10 years, 7 months ago)

Jeremiah Vandermeer

Cannabis Culture Magazine

Saturday 11 Sep 2010

CANNABIS CULTURE - Marc Emery, well-known Canadian marijuana activist and founder of Cannabis Culture Magazine, was sentenced today by a US federal judge to five years behind bars in a US prison.

Targeted by the DEA for his political activism and his efforts to fund marijuana legalization groups, our good friend Marc finally learned his fate this afternoon in a Seattle courtroom: a five year sentence for selling marijuana seeds, in accord with a plea deal arranged with US prosecutors.

The sentencing was short; government prosecutors and Marc's attorney Richard Troberman made brief remarks before Marc himself was allowed to make a final statement to the court.

Judge Ricardo S. Martinez seemed sympathetic in handing the activist his sentence, but implied that his hands were largely tied by the conditions of the plea agreement. As the judge noted during the proceedings, delivering a shorter sentence would allow government prosecutors to pull out of the deal, leaving Marc vulnerable to a trial and longer punishment. Judge Martinez recommended that Marc be moved to the Federal Correctional Institution in Lompoc California, as per his wishes, and made an informal recommendation to the Justice Department that a Treaty Transfer be approved to send Marc back to Canada to serve his sentence.

A group of about 40 supporters held signs, shouted chants and sounded off to American and Canadian media about what they see as a disgraceful affront to justice and Canadian sovereignty - the imprisonment of a peaceful political activist and dedicated advocate and fundraiser for drug policy reform.

Marc's wife Jodie, a Green Party director-at-large and accomplished cannabis activist in her own right, condemned the treatment of her husband and other victims of the Drug War. Speaking with reporters after the sentencing Jodie said that today's sentencing provoked "a mix of emotions".

"Marc's deal has dragged on since 2005 and it's good to have it over with," she said, "but to face the 5-year sentence ahead...that's quite a long road to look down."

The following stories appeared online in the hours after Marc's sentencing

Canada's 'prince of pot' gets five years in U.S. prison

by Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

The man once known as Canada's "prince of pot" is now a federal inmate in the U.S. system after a judge in Washington sentenced him Friday to five years in prison.

Marijuana activist Marc Emery pleaded guilty in May in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington, to a single count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana after an 18-month investigation into the seed-selling business Emery operated from his head shop in Vancouver, British Columbia.

By imposing the five-year sentence, which includes four years of supervised probation, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez honored a plea deal that Emery, 52, entered into with U.S. authorities to avoid a lengthier sentence.

"There is no question your actions were illegal and criminal and your actions ensured that others broke the law and suffered the consequences," the judge told Emery during the hearing.

Dozens of Emery's supporters gathered outside Seattle's federal courthouse to protest the sentence, which marks the end of a five-year legal battle against a man once described by U.S. authorities as one of its most wanted international drug trafficking targets -- and the only one from Canada.

Emery is the founder of the British Columbia Marijuana Party and the website CannabisCulture.com. His status in Canada as a tireless advocate for marijuana legalization has been cemented through years of sit-ins, demonstrations and runs for political office. By his own account, he has been arrested at least a dozen times since 1995 related to his activism, and Vancouver police have raided his shop several times since it opened in 1994.

In his plea agreement, Emery admitted to operating a marijuana seed selling business with two co-defendants, who entered pleas this year to lesser offenses and were placed on probation in Canada. He also admitted to selling seeds to customers in the United States through mail and telephone orders and in his Vancouver retail store.

"Marc Emery decided that U.S. laws did not apply to him, but he was wrong," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in a statement Friday. "Emery put his personal profits above the law. He made millions of dollars by shipping millions of seeds into the U.S. He sold to anyone who would pay him -- with no regard for the age or criminal activities of his customers. Now, Emery is paying the price for being part of the illegal drug trade that damages lives, homes and the environment."

But Emery and his supporters worldwide have maintained from the start that his prosecution was politically motivated, citing a 2005 DEA press release touting his arrest as a "significant blow" to the marijuana legalization movement.

"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 have one less pot of money to rely on," former DEA Administrator Karen Tandy said in the July 2005 statement, which can no longer be found on the DEA's website.

Emery's lawyer reminded the judge of the press release in his presentencing memorandum, claiming there are other seed selling businesses in Canada that the U.S. government chose not to go after.

"The only thing that makes Mr. Emery unique or different from most of these other seed sellers is that Marc donated his proceeds to help fund lawful marijuana legalization efforts throughout the United States and Canada. On this record, no one can (or should) take the government seriously when it claims that this case was not politically motivated," Richard Troberman wrote.

But the U.S. Attorney's Office said that Emery's personal politics had nothing to do with his prosecution.

"Through the years, and in various contexts, Marc Emery has meant different things to many people. But in the context of this federal criminal prosecution, Emery stands before the court as many others have before him -- as an admitted drug dealer who has entered a plea of guilty to a large scale marijuana trafficking conspiracy," the U.S. attorney's office wrote in its presentencing memo. "The government's case was investigated and prosecuted without regard for Emery's personal politics, his political agenda or the ways in which he chose to spend the proceeds of his drug crimes."

With Emery in prison, his wife, Jodie, has become the face behind their cause, which has not fallen dormant in his absence. Rallies to support Emery and the legalization movement will be held in more than 70 cities across the globe on September 18, she said.

"It's going to be a long, difficult road ahead, but we'll be able to make it with all the support we have," she said.
Emery also remains firm in his beliefs, though in a letter to the court, he admitted his means may have been self-defeating.

"It was my sincere belief that the prohibitions on cannabis are hurtful to U.S. and Canadian citizens and are contrary to the U.S. and Canadian constitutions. I was, however, overzealous and reckless in pursuing this belief, and acted arrogantly in violation of U.S. federal law. I regret not choosing other methods -- legal ones -- to achieve my goals of peaceful political reform."

- Article from CNN.

Canada's prince of pot sentenced to five years in jail

Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun

SEATTLE, Wash. — Sentenced to five years behind bars, Canada's Prince of Pot Marc Emery was led off to an American penitentiary Friday repenting his seed-selling sins and professing love for his wife.

"I love you Jodie!" he mouthed silently to her as he was led away.

There may be a place for and time for a debate over the legalization of marijuana the judge told him, but this is not the time or the place — marijuana is illegal.

In a beige prisoner's jumpsuit, Emery sat throughout the 15-minute hearing with his hands folded under his chin.

His wife Jodie Emery sat stoically the public gallery with about 40 supporters, press and undercover law-enforcement officers.

Seeds traced to grow houses in every region of the U.S. were linked to Emery according to the prosecution, and the original DEA press release called Emery one of the "most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets -- one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada."

Judge Ricardo Martinez, of the western Washington district court, told the 52-year-old Vancouver businessman that he had grown up along the Canadian border and was saddened by what illegal drugs have done to both countries.

"I regret the example we set," Emery told him, "and I won't be doing that again.

"I'd like to point out though that it made it sound like I'm a bad guy . . . but I had very good intentions and wanted to be considered a proper participant in our society. I do believe that these prohibition laws create a lot of problems and create organized crime."

It was a sad emotional end to a 30-year public career by the staunch libertarian most Canadians considered a benign and charismatic political prankster.

The U.S. prosecutors said he was the "largest [pot seed] distributor in North America and at least the largest into the United States . . . .no doubt he sold millions of marijuana seeds that produced millions of marijuana plants in the U.S."

Outside the federal courthouse, a small group protested his sentence.

Emery said he now realizes that some of the methods he chose to fund his efforts to repeal the marijuana prohibition were "ill-conceived and ultimately destructive."

In a letter given to the judge prior to sentencing, Emery said he was "over-zealous and reckless" and "acted arrogantly in violation of U.S. federal law.

"I regret not choosing other methods — legal ones — to achieve my goals of peaceful political reform."

It sounded as sincere as Galileo's confession.

Emery has been a political activist for three decades — fighting Sunday business-closing laws in Ontario, Canada's national ban on drug literature and, of course, the marijuana prohibition.

A Canadian citizen and president of the B.C. Marijuana Party, Emery has run for office several times.

In furtherance of his goal of legalizing cannabis, for many years he sold marijuana seeds around the world through catalogue sales.

"This was not a business that operated underground, or even in the shadows," Richard Troberman, Emery's lawyer told the court.

"On the contrary, Marc openly operated his seed distribution business ("Marc Emery Direct") from a storefront in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, as well as over the internet; through telephone sales; direct mail sales; and though other media outlets. Revenue Canada gladly accepted taxes on all of his sales, which were duly reported to the appropriate taxing authorities. Virtually all of the profits from the business went to funding lawful efforts to legalize marijuana in Canada and the United States through the political process."

Crown counsel in Canada refused to prosecute Emery but under the former Republican presidency the U.S. ramped up its war on drugs and targeted Emery because of his political profile.

"The Attorney General's true motive — which was to silence Mr. Emery's political activity — could not be more clear," Troberman said.

Emery was indicted in Seattle on May 26, 2005 for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and arrested in Halifax on an extradition warrant a few days later.

He was held in custody from Aug. 2 through Aug. 5, 2005. Emery remained free until Sept. 2009 when a tentative plea bargain was reached and he surrendered himself into custody Sept. 28.

He remained imprisoned in Canada until Nov. 18, when he was released to await the Justice Minister's final determination of his extradition.

On May 10, Emery was told the minister had refused his last-ditch appeal and went back into jail.

He was transported to the U.S. May 20 and has remained imprisoned since.

Emery admitted selling more then 4 million seeds, 75 per cent to U.S. customers.

He asked to be housed in the federal correctional institution at Lompoc, Calif., so he can continue to be visited by his wife. The judge recommended that.

After his sentencing, Emery's lawyers delivered a request to the Canadian consul for a prison transfer to Canada.

His B.C. lawyer Kirk Tousaw said that if all went well, Emery could be serving his time in a Canadian institution within a year.

"I received hundreds of letters and emails, most of them favourable to you," Judge Martinez said.

"One in crayon," he quipped, "others quite well written, very thoughtful, making some very interesting points. I know five years is a long time. I wish you the best."

- Article from The Vancouver Sun.

Prince of Pot jailed 5 years in U.S. for selling seeds

by The Toronto Star

SEATTLE—Canada's flamboyant Prince of Pot has been sentenced in a U.S. court to five years in prison for being one of the largest marijuana seed suppliers in America.

U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan told the court Marc Emery made millions of dollars by shipping seeds into the United States and now he's paying the price for being part of the illegal drug trade.

"Marc Emery decided that U.S. laws did not apply to him, but he was wrong," Durkan said in a news release Friday.

"Emery put his personal profits above the law . . . He sold to anyone who would pay him — with no regard for the age or criminal activities of his customers.

"Now, Emery is paying the price for being part of the illegal drug trade that damages lives, homes and the environment."

When U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez sentenced Emery in Seattle on Friday, he told him there was no question his actions were criminal and that Emery ensured others broke the law by selling them the seeds.

Emery was indicted in 2005, but it wasn’t until May of this year that he was extradited from Canada and left for Washington State after a plea agreement.

His lawyer arranged the five-year sentence on the charge of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.

Emery's wife, Jodie Emery, said in an interview that her husband is holding up, but his fight is not over.

She said right after court adjourned on Friday, his lawyer went to the Canadian consulate in Seattle to submit the paperwork to have Emery transferred back to Canada to serve his sentence here.

The arrangement requires the consent from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Jodie Emery conceded she’s not hopeful the Tory government will act quickly.

"I am not very optimistic just judging by the track record of this government," she said in an interview. "They have been neglecting and refusing the applications from Canadians abroad ever since they came into power and they certainly don't care for marijuana or marijuana drug law reform. So they haven’t really expressed any interest in helping Marc."

The court noted that Emery claimed on his website to have made about $3 million a year for selling about four million seeds over the years from his Vancouver headquarters.

In his letter to the Seattle court, Emery said he "arrogantly violated U.S. law" and said he regrets he did not use legal methods to support his beliefs.

Last year, two employees of Emery Seeds were sentenced in Seattle to two years of probation for conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.

Michele Leonhart, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, said Emery didn’t consider whether his actions harmed families or led to violence.

"Due to the extraordinary co-operation between Canadian and U.S. law enforcement, Emery’s conspiracy was shattered and he is now a convicted felon," she said.

- Article from The Toronto Star.





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