With cannabis seed entrepreneur and political activist Marc Emery rumored to be on the verge of being let out of jail only a few days after being arrested at the request of the DEA, it’s time to take note of US government’s tendency to arrest, kidnap, imprison, torture, or kill people, regardless of their nationality or guilt, using a variety of time-tested methods for doing so.
And when America’s government wants to investigate or take down someone involved in illegal drugs, it can easily rely on its many years of experience facilitating the illegal drug trade.
Consider the revealing case of former Panamanian president General Manuel Noriega, a popular Latin American leader who wanted more money from the CIA in order to keep quiet about US-backed drug smuggling activities.
Some say Noriega knew too many secrets about the first President Bush, and about the use of drug cartels as part of a CIA effort to support covert, US-sponsored right-wing armies in Latin America.
Noriega became a roiling annoyance to President George H.W. Bush (father of the current president). So, in 1989 Bush ordered the US military to invade Panama with 24,000 soldiers and 300 attack aircraft, including helicopter gunships, stealth bombers, and tank-killing airplanes.
This invasion, which started an hour after midnight on December 20, 1989, took place after Bush and the US government tried and failed to overthrow Noriega by funding a coup.
As with current US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and echoing results in other US interventions in places like Grenada, Vietnam and Nicaragua, the military action mainly harmed innocent civilians.
During the invasion, US forces “inadvertently” destroyed Panama City’s densely-populated El Chorillo neighborhood, killing, injuring at displacing at least 10,000 civilians, some of whom perished in infernos caused by US firebombs.
The invasion destroyed civilian infrastructure as Panama City collapsed into a nightmare of crime and death, just like most Iraqi cities did after the US invaded Iraq. Thousands of innocent Panamanian civilians lost homes and belongings due to the invasion.
Noriega initially escaped capture. The US put a one million dollar price tag on his head.
On the lam, Noriega took refuge in the Vatican’s diplomatic offices. US forces surrounded the offices and waged psychological warfare against them, including the playing of lousy American rock and roll music through massive sound systems as part of a CIA “audio torture program.”
Tired of listening to rock music, Noriega surrendered on January 3, 1990, was taken to the US, put on trial in a kangaroo court, convicted of drug trafficking, and locked away in prison until he suffered a stroke in 2004. He is now in a prison hospital, wasting away.
The US called the invasion of Panama and the kidnapping of Noriega “Operation Just Cause.”
If someone told you that the US government thinks it has the legal right by international treaty to ask Canadian police to enforce US drug laws in Canada, even if that meant a non-violent Canadian citizen could be taken from Canada for foreign trial- would you believe it?
Would you believe that US goons could invade a foreign country and grab a man off the street in broad daylight? Italian prosecutors say that happened on February 17, 2003, when CIA agents attacked Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, on a street in Milan, Italy.
The US apparently believed, without enough solid evidence, that Omar was a “terrorist.” So a squad of agents jumped the man in broad daylight, tied him up, took him to a US air force base in Aviano, Italy, flew him to a US airbase in Germany, and then flew him to Egypt, where Egyptian torturers engaged in brutality against him.
This blatant kind of kidnapping and “third-party” torture are tools of US policy, and are called “extraordinary rendition.” US officials publicly admit that many “terror suspects” are kidnapped and transferred to torture countries without court approval.
Extraordinary rendition is but one of many violations of human rights law authorized by President Bush. On January 25, 2002, Bush issued an executive order disavowing the Geneva Conventions’ rules for treatment of prisoners of war.
White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez, who is now the US Attorney General (an office that has ultimate control over the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal police agencies), helped write the memo, calling the Geneva Conventions “quaint” and “obsolete.”
During a television interview a week after 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney indicated that the US would violate human rights law whenever it wanted to. Responding to a question about how America would go after “terrorists,” Cheney said the US wasn’t bound by international law.
“A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we’re going to be successful”, Cheney said. “And so it’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective. We may have to work through, sort of, the dark side.”
Cheney’s “dark side” includes professionalized torture and death, all authorized at the highest levels of the US government and defended by administration officials, members of Congress, and even some in the public.
For example, in February, 2002, President Bush authorized torture techniques to be used by US military and CIA operatives at a variety of prisons across the world. These techniques include dunking people’s heads in water until they are close to drowning, attacking them with dogs, depriving of them of sleep and food, putting guns to the head staging mock executions, and other tactics banned by the Geneva Conventions.
In August, 2002, Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee and his assistant John Yoo recommended an expansion and extension of authorization to use hardcore methods, including extraordinary rendition, claiming it was not a violation of international law to use techniques that inflicted pain “equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.”
The paper trail of authorizations for torture leads to the White House, with detours to Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, and elsewhere where sinister US facilities provide places where prisoners have been documented to have been beaten, tortured or killed.
So far, only a few low-ranking US soldiers have been punished for the multitude of abuses perpetrated against “terror detainees” by the US worldwide, but the Milan kidnapping of Abu Omar was a bit much for Italian officials, who have asked for extradition of 19 US agents, charging that the kidnapping of Omar was illegal.
Italian prosecutors allege that CIA operatives studied Omar’s life and surveilled him and his associates for months; they made 100 inspections of the Milan area where he was seized. They also studied the best road routes to get him from Milan to Aviano.
Italian officials call the man’s abduction a “grave violation of Italian sovereignty,” and noted that the rogue actions had compromised an Italian anti-terrorism operation.
Italians have other reasons to be angry with the US.
In March, American soldiers killed revered Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari while he was on his way out of Iraq with an Italian journalist just released after being held for weeks by Iraqi rebels.
The soldiers who killed Calipari justified the shooting by claiming the car that Calipari and journalist Giuliana Sgrena were traveling in was approaching a military checkpoint at high speed and failed to halt despite the soldiers’ repeated efforts to slow the car down.
The journalist, who was also wounded in the attack during which Calipari died shielding her body with his, says the American version of events is full of lies.
She and Calipari were on their way out of Iraq, headed to the airport in a private vehicle, after the intelligence officer had brokered a deal that allowed her to leave Iraq rather than being killed by her captors.
Within minutes of being freed, US soldiers tried to kill her, even though the car she was traveling in was part of a high-level Italian intelligence operation that had been mutually cleared by top US and Italian military liaisons in Iraq.
The soldiers who killed Calipari claim they shot only at the car’s “engine block” after using arm signals, audible warnings, flashing lights, and warning shots to get the car to stop at the “checkpoint.”
Sgrena, a 57-year-old well-respected war journalist from a “leftist” newspaper, described events that bear no resemblance to the US version of what happened.
She says US soldiers created a “rain of fire and bullets with no bright warning lights or signals for us to stop.”
“We were covered with an avalanche of gunfire from a tank that is beside you, that did not give you any warning that it was about to attack if we did not stop,” she recalled, explaining that her government had told the US military that her car was totally cleared to travel without interruption to Baghdad airport. “This is absolutely inconceivable even in normal situations, even if they hadn’t known that we were there, that we were supposed to come through. The driver started yelling that we were Italians. ‘We are Italians, we are Italians!’ Nicola Calipari threw himself on me to protect me and immediately, I repeat, immediately, I heard his last breath as he was dying on me.”
Sgrena says her rebel captors had warned her that American forces would try to assassinate her on her way out of the country, because she was a witness to and had written about US war crimes in the Iraqi city of Falluja.
The American government deliberately tried to suppress honest journalistic reporting from Iraq, she explained, adding that Americans should know that US soldiers had previously blown up a hotel housing journalists in Iraq, killing and injuring several of them.
“My captors told me, ?The Americans don’t want you to make it back home,'” she said.
The US government stonewalled Italian investigators who were trying to evaluate the shooting incident through an independent Italian inquiry, and the Italian government refused to sign off on the final US investigatory report about the shooting, saying Italian investigators had serious doubts about the veracity of the US investigation and the motivations of those who conducted it.
Sgrena is lucky she hasn’t yet been a “guest” on a well-equipped Gulfstream jet (tail number N379P) that has logged hundreds of thousands of air miles since 2001.
The plane has landed and taken off from some of the world’s wildest hotspots, including Karachi, Pakistan, Baghdad, Iraq, and Rabat, Morocco.
It’s frequently seen at Dulles International Airport near the Imperial City of Washington, DC.
It lands at lots of US military bases, including those in the UK, Asia, the Mediterranean region, and Germany.
It has interesting passengers- men with chains wrapped around them and thick black hoods over their heads.
The plane is owned by a Portland, Oregon company owned by Leonard T. Bayard, but Bayard does not really exist. He and his company are ghosts created by the CIA to conceal its rendition program, which Human Rights Watch says involve dozens of secret prisons around the world.
The fancy jet and its human cargo have been described as an “open secret” since early 2002, when spotters at international airports began to log its arrivals and departures, usually in the dark of night from military airports in places like Jordan, the UK, and Indonesia.
In October, 2002, the plane was used to transport a Syrian-born Canadian engineer named Maher Arar.
The engineer and his family were returning from a vacation via Kennedy Airport in New York on September 26, 2002 when US spies wrestled him away from his family and put him in a cell for two weeks.
He was interrogated without being allowed an attorney or other legal protections, even though he is Canadian.
Then he was wrapped in chains, a hood was thrown over his head, and he was put on the infamous Bayard jet, which went to Washington, DC, then Maine, then Rome, then Jordan.
Arar was driven by truck to Syria, where he was put in a darkened cell underground and beaten with thick cables and otherwise tortured every day for a year until the Canadian government finally intervened to get him released.
“Congress doesn’t have the power to tie the hands of the President in regard to torture as an interrogation technique,” said Bush ally and administration official John Yoo, responding to criticism of Arar’s treatment. “It’s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. Congress can’t prevent the president from ordering torture.”
[Note: Yoo has apparently left government to become a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Students there might want to talk to the university administration about why the allegedly “liberal” institution has a possible “torture enthusiast” on staff.]
Kidnapping and torture are the US government’s weapons of choice in its “war on terror.” In its “war on drugs,” America’s government is even more diabolically creative.
According to Professor Alfred McCoy, author of the blockbuster non-fiction book, “The Politics of Heroin- CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade,” the US government allied itself with anti-communist heroin and opium businessmen in Laos and Vietnam during the Vietnam War and before it.
This policy was implemented primarily by the CIA, which used drug money to finance Operation Phoenix, which was itself an illegal, covert program that kidnapped tens of thousands of Vietnamese during the war, subjecting them to torture and death. Many Phoenix victims were interrogated in helicopters and then thrown to their death.
McCoy discovered that the CIA had been in bed with Asian drug gangs since the 1950’s, and that drug trade-CIA alliances during the Vietnam war resulted in thousands of American soldiers being hooked on heroin and thousands of pounds of opiates being smuggled back to the US using military and CIA transport planes.
The DEA tried to bust the CIA and its drug runners, but were prevented from doing so.
“In 1971 DEA agent Mike Levine was operating in Thailand,” McCoy explains. “At the same time I was conducting the investigation for the first edition of my book. Mike Levine told me he wanted to go up country to Chiangmai, the heroin capital of Southeast Asia at that point, the finance and processing center and hub of the enterprise. He wanted to make some major seizures. Through a veiled series of cut outs in the U.S. embassy in Bangkok, instructions were passed to his superiors in the DEA, who told him he couldn’t go up and make the bust. He was pulled off the case. He said it wasn’t until he read my book a number of years later that he understood the politics of what was going on and he realized why he had been pulled off. All of the upland drug lords that were producing the narcotic, the heroin, were in fact CIA assets.”
The CIA and DEA were together involved with drug lords and double agents in a Reagan-backed covert operation that created the epidemic of crack cocaine in Los Angeles and other American cities during the 1980’s.
Late author and journalist Gary Webb’s newspaper expose and book about the US government-crack cocaine connection, “Dark Alliance,” proved that the US government knows how to run a drug smuggling business better than drug lords do.
But don’t get the idea that the US government is always on the side of drug criminals. When the government wants to hammer a drug criminal, it hammers hard.
On February 9, 2003, a 14-year-old Hispanic San Antonio student named Ashley Villarreal was gunned down by DEA agents near the small home where she lived with her 73-year-old grandmother, Nelly Villarreal.
The agents were gunning for her father, a small-time criminal allegedly involved in cocaine transactions, who was miles away from the location where Ashley was killed. The agents’ statements about the shooting sharply conflict with witnesses who said the agents killed the girl without provocation. Everyone agrees that it is a sad and tragic loss.
A year earlier, the head of the DEA had invaded California with a posse of armed agents who arrested Cannabis Culture cultivation columnist Ed Rosenthal for growing legal medical marijuana.
Rosenthal was convicted of three felonies stemming from the raid, after being prevented from discussing medical marijuana during the federal trial. When jurors found out after the trial was over that Rosenthal had the city of Oakland’s official authorization to grow medical cannabis, they held a press conference bitterly condemning the trial judge, the arrest, and their own decision to find Rosenthal guilty.
It is within this multi-decade context of unilateral illegal US wars, torture, legal chicanery, and involvement with drug smuggling that the July DEA-orchestrated arrest of cannabis seed entrepreneur Marc Emery and two of his employees must be viewed.
The drug agency and its spokespersons at the federal prosecutors office in Seattle have alleged that the late July raid of Emery’s seed business and political headquarters came about solely because Emery was engaged in “drug trafficking and money laundering” in the United States.
DEA and other federal spokespersons went out of their way not to seize any materials related to Emery’s media and political properties, which include the British Columbia Marijuana Party, his top-ranked magazine and his revolutionary internet television network.
At a press conference, US spokespersons specifically stated they busted Emery because of “drug crimes, not because he engages in political activism on behalf of marijuana. But this activism is the core of Emery’s “illegal activities.” He sells pot seeds so he can pay for activism.
The DEA wants people to believe that Emery heads a worldwide marijuana growing and seed enterprise as a marijuana version of a Colombian cocaine cartel drug lord.
Cocaine cartel drug lords are wealthy men guarded by gun-toting mercenary armies, living in fortified mansions with millions of narcodollars stashed in multiple locations. Emery lives in a small condo and walks to work. He hasn’t got any money stashed away; when he went for a bail hearing in Vancouver on Tuesday, August 2nd, he was unable to even pay the $50,000 the judge demanded.
Emery hands out money for activist causes as fast as it is handed to him by seed customers, funding worldwide projects as one of many people who sell cannabis seeds across borders. He funds everything from pot rallies to Supreme Court cases to drug addiction treatment centers.
Won’t it be disappointing for the drug warriors when the US government’s asset forfeiture agents tear into Emery’s financial and tax records trying to find out where the “seed kingpin” earned, spent and hid his money. They’ll find that he lived like a spaced-out Gandhi.
Instead of a potty Pablo Escobar, they’ll find a grassroots activist who founded a political party and several pot businesses, always said exactly what he felt, looked great in a suit, could do super-articulate radio and television interviews regardless of how stoned he was, and was a virtual pauper at the time of his arrest.
The attack on Emery is reminiscent of Operation Green Merchant, which was a nationwide US police attack on the hydroponics industry. It also resembles a US-led attack decades ago on the most eminent Dutch seed bank and seller at the time.
Now, police from both sides of the border have spent lots of money and time chasing a non-violent Vancouverite who breaks a ridiculous law that criminalizes a plant grown by America’s Founding Fathers.
Emery’s bust is warning to the cannabis seed industry which, following the example of Emery, has operated more and more openly in the last five years.
In Amsterdam and England, and right next to Emery’s seed store in Vancouver, are many cannabis seeds shops. There are dozens more retailers on the internet and in other parts of the world, including America.
There are plenty of store-front and electronic retailers selling thousands of pot seeds per day. There are also auctions, clubs, connoisseurs, scientists- lots of people communicating about the wonders of the cannabis seed, making money off cannabis seeds.
As far as we know, however, Emery is the only one of these people who uses cannabis seed sales to fund cannabis legalization politics.
So when the DEA asserts it did not bust Emery because of his political activities, the very fact of their selective attack on him contradicts their assertion.
There are many cannabis seed sellers operating at or near the volume levels that Emery does, who also send pot seeds to the US, who are advertising openly on the net and in magazines. None of those people have been raided.
What is the only difference between Emery who has been busted and the other cannabis seed sellers who have not been? The only difference is that Emery is political, and the rest of them are not. The rest of them are in it solely for the money, and Emery is in it because he loves cannabis and intends to end the drug war. That’s why he’s in jail.
The DEA’s message is clear: you can sell all the cannabis seeds you want as long as you keep the money and do not use it to fund a pro-cannabis political message.
Is the attack on Emery the beginning or the end of a war on cannabis genetics? Is it the end of the Emery empire, or a new opportunity for him to overcome another bust and emerge stronger than ever?
These questions weigh heavily on the minds of people in Emery’s industry.
The DEA views Emery as a dangerous criminal who helps people “manufacture marijuana.” The DEA and other law enforcement agencies literally classify marijuana as a “biological machine” that “manufactures” marijuana.
Ethnobotanists see marijuana as a powerful herbal sacrament with a variety of beneficial uses, and see Emery as a self-sacrificing advocate for the plant, which is an endangered species.
Emery helps the plant maintain a viable gene pool in a dangerous environment. Some people save whales. Emery saves cannabis genetics.
In his home country of Canada, Emery has operated openly for years and the police didn’t care much.
He provided employment and classy, exciting inner city activism on West Hastings Street in Vancouver.
He has been raided twice, once rather brutally, but has always re-opened and rebuilt his seed sales dominance and political machine.
Other than getting hammered in conservative Saskatoon last year for passing a joint, police have pretty much left him alone to sell seeds and host huge pot parties. Local police seem to have given up on busting Emery.
Think about the chronology of Emery’s summer of 2005. His internet television network aired shows that feature his crew judging buds sent to Vancouver from all around the world.
At the beginning of July, Emery hosted a flawless Toker’s Bowl replete with two dozen varieties of marijuana. He then traveled to Nova Scotia to speak at a hemp festival. He goes to a restaurant for lunch. A gang of Canadian police supervised by DEA, who have been tracking Emery long before he arrived in Halifax, jump him when he comes out of the restaurant and hustle him away.
There’s no word if they put chains around him or a hood on his head, but this is probably the first time the US has used Canadian police on Canadian soil to do extraordinary rendition on a Canadian citizen not accused of violence or terrorism.
This is a first. If Emery is extradited to the US and sentenced to prison there, it will carry extraordinary rendition to an unheard of level wherein foreigners can be kidnapped from their home countries by their own police force and tried by a jury of Americans in an American courtroom governed by the corrupt American legal system.
At least the guys kidnapped and now rotting in prison on the coast of Cuba at Guantanamo have a military tribunal to determine their fate, unfair as it may be. But because Emery was prosecuted under a special mutual legal agreement treaty (MLAT) between Canada and the US, it’s all the harder for him to get a fair trial.
Indeed, many of the “terror suspects” held by the US in torture prisons around the world probably have more chance of getting a fair trial than Emery does.
As founder and president of a legitimate, registered political party in Canada, financed by seed sales (on which earnings he pays taxes to Revenue Canada), Emery has special claim that actions the DEA say are worth life imprisonment in the US are actually political actions protected by Canada’s charter of rights, with no provable “criminal” intent.
Under the Canada Elections Act, Emery is the protected leader of a registered federal political party in Canada.
His “Marijuana Party” has protection based on a Supreme Court of Canada ruling called Figueroa versus Canada, which says “the ability of a political party to make a valuable contribution is not dependent upon its capacity to offer the electorate a genuine government option. Political parties act as a vehicle for the participation of individual citizens in the political life of the country. Marginal or regional parties tend to raise issues not adopted by national parties. Political parties provide individual citizens with an opportunity to express an opinion on the policy and functioning of government. Each vote in support of a party increases the likelihood that its platform will be taken into account by those who implement policy, and even votes for parties with fewer than 50 candidates are an integral component of a vital and dynamic democracy.”
Politics aside, it’s true that sales of “viable” cannabis seeds are technically illegal in Canada, but the laws on this are rarely if ever enforced by Canadian police. Even the police who raided Emery’s shop admit they acted solely because the US wanted them to, and that no charges were to be laid against Emery in Canada.
Emery’s lawyer John Conroy argued at his initial bail hearing that Canadian police gave tacit approval of Emery’s pot seed sales by allowing him to stay in business for years and by collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes from those sales.
“For nine years he’s been doing this quite openly,” Conroy said. “They’ve known about his seed sales and haven’t done anything about it.”
Conroy noted that Health Canada advised medical cannabis patients to buy pot seeds from Internet sites.
“Many of those people contacted Marc Emery through his website,” said Conroy. “We have a situation where they turn a blind eye and now they’re in a position of assisting the US to try to have him extradited to the US where the penalties are substantially greater than here.”
In setting Emery’s bail at only $50,000, Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm of the British Columbia Supreme Court sent a powerful message that bodes poorly for US officials, who wanted Emery kept in prison for the “six months to two years” that his extradition case could take to be resolved.
Dohm is the judge who signed the American-requested search warrant and he’s known as a hardliner who keeps people in jail on high bail most of the time, especially if American charges are involved.
Compare Dohm’s treatment of Emery and his co-defendants with his treatment of US citizen Tre Arrow, who is being held in Canada while the US tries to extradite him for allegedly committing crimes against logging equipment: Dohm denied Arrow bail even though Arrow’s lawyer agreed to $252,000 bail and very restrictive bail conditions to secure his client’s release pending an extradition hearing.
Arrow’s charges don’t carry the potential for life imprisonment that Emery’s charges carry, and it’s very important to note that some legal scholars say federal statutes for Emery’s alleged crimes may carry a possible death penalty.
Here is an excerpt from American sentencing guidelines:
“The sentence of death can be carried out on a defendant who has been found guilty of manufacturing, importing or distributing a controlled substance if the act was committed as part of a continuing criminal enterprise ? but only if the defendant is (1) the principal administrator, organizer, or leader of the enterprise or is one of several such principal administrators, organizers, or leaders, and (2) the quantity of the controlled substance is 60,000 kilograms or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of marijuana, or 60,000 or more marijuana plants, or the if the enterprise received more than $20 million in gross receipts during any 12-month period of its existence.”
And yet, Dohm set bail for the tree activist facing 80 years in prison at four times the amount he set for the man the DEA describes as public enemy number one, a man facing life imprisonment and possibly the death penalty for selling marijuana seeds.
DEA administrator Karen Tandy says Emery and his organization is “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.”
This indicates the political nature of the bust. US Attorney General Roberto Gonzales, who many accuse of being a war criminal due to his role as White House Counsel in drafting the Bush torture doctrine, views a guy selling pot seeds as a “most wanted international drug trafficking” target.
With all due respect to Gonzalez, pot seeds are not drugs. You could smoke a ton of pot seeds and not get high. You’d get a headache.
So here’s a news flash definition for Roberto the Torturer: a drug trafficker is somebody who trafficks in cocaine, heroin, meth, or marijuana, Robbie. Marc Emery does not qualify as a drug trafficker. A pot seed is not a pot plant any more than an acorn is an oak tree.
Why are Gonzalez and his government so eager to stomp Emery? Because Emery funds a magazine, television network and website that go far beyond pot entertainment and politics. Emery’s team of journalists and commentators tie the drug war to all other wars, and routinely describe the US as a rogue nation that controls a Nazified global police state.
Judge Dohm also sent a defiant message to the Americans by specifically stating that Emery can continue to work at the BCMP headquarters, home of his now-closed seed business, and continue to operate Cannabis Culture magazine.
All in all, it seems like the US has made another costly international blunder by arresting Emery and his people.
The bust has focused negative attention on the US-Canada MLAT signed in 1985, and on modifications to Canada’s Extradition Act five years ago that make it easier for the US to take Canadians out of Canada.
It has brought new attention to the loss of Canadian sovereignty under NAFTA and other cross-border agreements. Analysts note that the US is pressuring the governments of Canada and Mexico to cede their sovereignty to Washington, DC in accord with a hemispheric pact to be finalized by 2010.
“It seems to me if you do anything on the Internet that’s illegal in the US, or that they don’t like, you do run the risk of the US federal government taking a position that you’re doing things that somehow impact on their sovereignty,” Conroy noted. “In effect, the US has some power over you no matter where you are.”
Vancouver Police inadvertently agreed with Conroy and others who see the Emery case as a sign of excessive American control over internal Canadian legal protocols.
“U.S. authorities are hoping to prosecute Emery in Seattle under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which allows the prosecuting agency to determine where to try defendants,” Vancouver Police Department spokesman Howard Chow explained. “US authorities likely thought there was a better chance of conviction and harsher punishment in the US.”
“If Mr. Emery was a person who had been suspected of homicide we wouldn’t have any problem with what was done to him,” said Neil Boyd, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University near Vancouver. “But for us to send him to the US to face what might be life imprisonment for selling seeds would seem to me to be ceding a certain amount of our sovereignty in terms of how we want to see Canadian citizens treated for certain kinds of behaviour.”
As this article is being written, Emery’s friends and family are begging the public for donations so they can get him and his employee (Marijuana Man) out of jail and also pay for the steep cost of fighting the DEA’s extradition request.
It seems certain, however, that just as America’s illegal invasion of Iraq only strengthened Arab opposition to US policies, this brazen attack on the world’s most philanthropic pot seed retailer has already backfired. Emery’s arrest has energized cannabis users and civil libertarians, who’ve staged non-stop protests on his behalf.
When all is said and done, Emery will again be free to spread the gospel of legalization, and the American government will have found out the hard way that kidnapping foreigners and putting them on trial doesn’t always work.