Marc Emery: Canada’s Marijuana Martyr
Marc Emery is the model Canadian citizen. He is a small business owner who has openly and transparently paid $580 000 in taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency from 1995-2005. Mr. Emery has contributed to numerous charities over the years and has even started a political party in British Columbia. The Canadian Medical Association has recommended Mr. Emery’s business to people all over Canada and he has sent his publications to every member of Canada’s Parliament. Marc Emery loves his job but it is his job that has got him into trouble. Marc Emery sells marijuana seeds over the internet. Or he did, until he was arrested on July 29, 2005 in Nova Scotia by the USA’s Drug Enforcement Administration officials.
In 1985 Canada and the United States signed a treaty with the goal of coordinating American/Canadian crime fighting efforts. Canada also has “The Extradition Act” to governor if/how/why Canadians can be sent to the United States to stand trial. In Canada selling marijuana seeds is technically illegal. However the law hasn’t really been enforced since 1998 when Marc Emery was arrested for this “crime” and punished with a $2000 fine. When a law isn’t enforced for more than 10 years it stops being a law (the legal term is “Dead Letter”) for example Springfield had an old, never-enforced law requiring ducks to wear long pants on The Simpsons. This means that though selling marijuana seeds violates sections 841 and 846 of the United States Criminal code and American’s are regularly arrested under this law, what Marc Emery has been doing for years is no longer a crime in Canada. Emery who was arrested in Nova Scotia shipped a large portion of the seeds he sold over the internet to the United States. Though he has never been to Washington State, Emery plead guilty to the “crime” there in order to ensure two of his associates would have lenient sentences and that he would not face a 50-year prison sentence which the DEA would have sought if he plead not guilty. Emery plead guilty on September 21th, 2009 and now is waiting for the 30 day pre-extradition period to end.
The political motivations behind Marc Emery’s arrest:
Karen Tandy, the DEA administrator at the time of Emery’s arrest issued the following press release at the time of Mr. Emery’s 2005 arrest:
“Today’s DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. 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. Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General’s most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada. 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.”
No one in Canada wanted Mr. Emery to be arrested and 55% of Canadians believe that marijuana should be legalized. It was not that Mr. Emery was breaking United States law that drove the DEA to arrest him but that Marc Emery has spent the vast majority of his seed-selling profits supporting anti-prohibition groups in Canada, the United Sates and around the world. The United States had to use a technicality to arrest Emery with no regard for Canadian sovereignty. The DEA arrested a Canadian citizen for political purposes and our government is doing nothing to stop this.
The Canadian Government can and should step in:
The Extradition Act requires “Dual Criminality” in both countries which, as mentioned, earlier doesn’t apply in Emery’s case, as this law is Dead Letter in Canada. If we decided to say the law is not dead letter it still doesn’t fulfill the dual criminality requirement, as the crime must be punishable by a minimum of two years incarceration, which it is not in Canada. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson could have stopped the extradition process at any time from 2005 to today. The Extradition Act has a huge loophole where the Canadian Justice Minister can refuse to extradite it “would be unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstance.” The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Section 9 protects against “arbitrary detainment or imprisonment.” As there are dozens of marijuana seed-sellers across Canada and the people arresting him admitted that it was politics not law that lead to his arrest, Marc Emery’s detainment and imprisonment seems the epitome of arbitrary.
Marijuana is no worse for you than alcohol and the majority of Canadians realize this. The United States of America has decided that cutting off funds from anti-prohibition groups supercedes Canadian sovereignty. Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative Government agree with the United States’ regressive drug policies so they have allowed Marc Emery to be sacrificed and Minister Nicholson is refusing to prevent the extradition. This sets a dangerous precedent: that the United States can enforce its laws in Canada without any governmental opposition.