The following is an article by Marc Emery that appeared in Cannabis Culture #58 (December/January 05/06). It explains his history as a political and social activist in Canada; his reasons to run Marc Emery Direct Marijuana Seeds; how he funded global cannabis activist organizations and formal marijuana initiatives and campaigns; and what the US Drug War’s influence on Canada has caused. Updated information has been added where necessary.
July 29th, 2005… I had that ‘life flashing before me’ moment. The frozen second in time when everything was sharp, clear, and signaled a great convergence of all my effort into this precise moment. “Marc Emery, you are under arrest for Extradition to The United States of America…” Every seed sold, all the millions of dollars I had given to the cause, every speech to free our people, every arrest, jailing and raid I had endured: it was all for this moment in time. “…for trafficking in marijuana seeds, for the production of marijuana, and for money laundering.”
How Did This Happen?
In 1990, when I became a cannabis activist, all books, magazines, videos, pipes, bongs, everything about marijuana was illegal in Canada. As a bookseller at the City Lights Bookshop in London, Ontario, I was surprised and shocked to learn that the Canadian government had banned High Times Magazine, had police seize all copies of marijuana growing books (including the Canadian classic Grow Yer Own Stone), and pushed over 500 “head” shops across Canada into shutting down. There was no cannabis activist movement left in Canada. No books, no magazines, no activists, no hemp stores. Nothing. The United States activist movement had itself become muted through the Reagan and Bush years.
Into this strange wilderness, I decided that as a bookseller I had to defy this peculiar censorship law, which eliminated disseminating the truth about marijuana – a law that passed almost unanimously in the Canadian Parliament in 1987, with one lone dissenter: NDP Member of Parliament Svend Robinson. In the fall of 1990, I ordered through the mail a few copies of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, the classic book by Jack Herer on the suppression of cannabis hemp. Not available in Canada because of the ban (section 462.2 of the Criminal Code, which provided up to 6 months in jail, and/or up to a $100,000 fine for distributing books and any printed matter about marijuana or any “illicit” drug), I imported copies (illegally) and bought newspaper ads in the London Free Press, my hometown daily, to announce that I was breaking the literature ban on marijuana and welcomed the local police to arrest me.
This approach had always worked well for me in the ten years leading up to this time, as I went to court and jail after deliberately breaking various laws, such as the Sunday shopping ban, obscenity laws, and other Canadian social control laws that I personally, through civil disobedience, helped change.
The Day It All Came Down
(Read the July 29th DEA release admitting the political motivation behind Marc Emery’s arrest here, and at the bottom of this page.)
On the day of my arrest on July 29, I was in the maritime province of Nova Scotia to speak at the Atlantic Hemp Festival held by Maritimers United for Medical Marijuana. While I was handcuffed and being delivered to the dank cells of the Halifax lock-up, Vancouver police raids were underway in my home, my offices, and the BCMP Bookstore in Vancouver. No marijuana or any drugs were found, and in fact, only approximately 5,000 seeds at most were available to be taken from the Seed Desk at the BCMP Bookstore.
Up to 50 police officers were used to comb the premises of all the locations. A battering ram was used to force the door at our office at 22 East Cordova Street. Various computers were taken, but little else was of interest to police. Warrants specified that any records relating to the seed business were to be seized. Presumably, police had access to phone records to calls made to Marc Emery Seeds. Otherwise, it wasn’t a business where we kept records. We destroyed all information after sending out orders.
In my cell in the Halifax lock-up, I knew that my life had entered a critical and inevitable phase. I have always been very, very transparent in the way I have conducted a career I have often described as “revolutionary retail” or “capitalist activism”. From the day I arrived in Vancouver on March 1st 1994, I was going to change the way marijuana activism existed. Even in 1994, everything about cannabis and used to enjoy cannabis was still illegal in Canada, and I was determined to make an aggressive change in this landscape.
Penniless after losing all of my money in an ill-advised house-building project in Indonesia, I arrived for the first time in my life in Vancouver, British Columbia, determined to build a movement that used a retail model to generate money that would feed a vast network of activism. Within days of getting off the plane, I was selling High Times magazine and a variety of banned marijuana grow books that had been fronted to me by a distributor. I sold door-to-door, to strangers on the street, to magazine stores, to bookstores, to students. I would make on average $1 profit per item, and fortunately, after 6 years of non-availability in Canada, there was a pent-up demand for marijuana information.
My two children, my spouse and I lived on $20 a day for food, and all other money was put back into these books and magazines. Within one year, I was distributing 2,000 copies a month of High Times magazine and was wholesaling and mail order retailing over 40 books about marijuana and other “illicit” entheogens.
After selling these products on the street for 3 months, I was offered a former Communist bookshop (that had been subject of a firebombing!) for $500 first month’s rent. As long as I cleaned the heavily damaged building up, the landlord said my “hemp revolution business”, as I explained it to him, was fine. On July 7, 1994, I opened the HEMP BC retail store and began a decade of principled, purposeful lawbreaking, with every action aimed at ending the marijuana prohibition by any peaceful means possible.
Everything Is On The Line
On July 29th, while the police were raiding the various places they believed seeds and records were stored, activists like David Malmo-Levine, Chris Bennett, Dana Larsen, and brave others protested the attack with a very noisy street demonstration. The media, informed immediately by Chris Bennett and the Cannabis Culture magazine team, descended on the scene at BCMP Headquarters.
Within hours, everyone in British Columbia was bombarded by media with the news that the US government was seeking to extradite me and two friends to the USA, for my seed-selling ways. It was clear the potential penalties were severe if I were to be extradited and prosecuted in the US, probably a life imprisonment. Under Drug Kingpin legislation in the United States, selling over 60,000 seeds qualifies for the death penalty. The manufacture or distribution of 60,000 kilograms of marijuana, 60,000 plants or 60,000 seeds all are included in death penalty provisions of the medieval law passed by a Newt Gingrich congress. I would be the first person who could qualify under this recent law to be executed for the activity I have clearly done with the tacit approval of everyone in Canada.
Revenue Canada received $578,000 in personal income taxes (1999 to 2005) on income that was explicitly from the sale of marijuana seeds, and they ALWAYS were aware of it. It said “Marijuana Seed Vendor” on my tax returns. I explained my entire banking and money systems and always gave income tax all access to my accounts so they could verify everything I said was true. I told them the Money Mart location where I cashed some money orders; my bank accounts were explained so they could track the flow of money. I relayed how expenses and disbursements took place in the incriminating world of seeds. They knew how it all worked because I had nothing to hide. The government of Canada received about $378,000 of this money; the provincial government of British Columbia received about $200,000.
As for politicians: every Member of Parliament in Canada, all 305, had a free subscription to our magazine, which often their assistants, if not the Member themselves, read and perused, for eight years. My seed catalogue was in every issue. They knew it was there. No one ever complained to me or to the police about it. Former MP Svend Robinson said that when he was New Democratic Party Health Critic he asked Health Canada where medical cannabis exemptees were supposed to obtain seeds. “Health Canada said to go to the internet and buy seeds there.” And that’s what he told medical patients to do: buy seeds on the internet. In fact, that’s what Health Canada also told others in letters that we have from 2003.
NDP leader Jack Layton came to my home in November 2003 and did a beautiful interview on www.Pot.tv. I think Jack Layton is a wonderful guy. I think NDP Justice Critic Libby Davies has done a sterling job. If I had any kind of reputation as a “drug dealer”, do you think a man who is a serious contender for Prime Minister is going to some drug dealer’s house to publicly ask for support? I was asked to testify before the Senate Subcommittee in both 1996 and 2002 as to my views on legalizing marijuana. Do you think they would ask any known drug dealer to attend?
When the Wall Street Journal put me on the front page of its massively influential newspaper in a very favorable article on Dec. 10, 1995, Quentin Hardy, the journalist who wrote it, told me six editors were assigned to check out my background. “They talked to your teachers, your neighbors, business associates, your parents. They are NOT going to let anyone with even a whiff of ‘drug dealer’ appear on that front page.” Nine years later, Mr. Hardy came to British Columbia and wrote the definitive piece on the British Columbia marijuana industry for Forbes Magazine, and I personally introduced him to many in the industry while he did that piece.
I spoke at IDEA CITY in 2001 and 2003. I spoke on the same stage as former Prime Ministers John Turner and Kim Campbell, and I was the marijuana provider to many famous Canadians at the Friday Night IDEA CITY Party at muchmusic/CHUM TV. In my speeches I talked about the incredible work in helping 18 year old Webster Alexander in Alabama, having his sentence for selling two ounces of pot reduced from an unbelievable 36 years to one year served on weekends. I talked about the amazing work at my Iboga Therapy House (that seed money had kept operating), and how we helped heavily drug addicted persons for free with amazing results. I talked about my mission in life and how I had developed this “seed thing” that paid for immense amounts of activism.
My very transparent manifesto, “How to Overgrow the Government Through Revolutionary Retail” was published in the first issue of Cannabis Culture magazine. I was written up and covered in TIME Magazine, MacLean’s Magazine, The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Seattle’s Post Intelligencier, CBS’ 60 Minutes, CNN, Mexico’s La Reforma, The Times of India, and hundreds of other publications around the globe. I never received one letter from anyone in 10 years asking me to stop selling seeds. No one on the streets of Vancouver or anywhere in Canada where I have spoken extensively (22 cities in 2003, 19 cities in 2004) has ever approached me and said, “I don’t like what you are doing by selling seeds”. I have never received a letter or a phone call or correspondence of any kind from anyone in Canada asking or demanding that I stop the sale and distribution of seeds.
Since moving to BC over 11 years ago, I never owned vehicles, property, bonds, investments, assets, or off-shore accounts. I leased everything on a month-by-month basis, including my vehicle and my apartment. If I had money stashed, the police or Income Tax people would have found it. I was watched extensively. I presumed my cell phone was always monitored. When, in late July, the DEA undercover agent posing as seed buyer tried to get me to sell her ten pounds of pot over the phone, I refused and told her that I always assumed my cell phone was monitored, so how could she be so foolish and naive? When she asked again at a later time, I lectured her at length. Not only did I not sell pot, she was being very reckless to even think about importing pot to the USA.
The DEA even has a subscription to Cannabis Culture, with their money orders on US Department of Justice cheques. I figured if the US government got that pissed off, they’d just ask the Vancouver Police to raid me, like in the 1996 to 1998 period.
I was always raided after appearing in A-list American media. A month after the Wall Street Journal: raided. A month after Rolling Stone: raided. Two months after the CNN Visits Canada’s Prince of Pot special in October 1997: raided. The police took a million dollars in store and business assets in total, but I was not even charged on either occasion, and received small fines from the courts when I was charged on two others. The last fine I got for selling seeds in 1998 was $700 per count; seven counts, $5,000 in total. From a $700 fine for seeds in 1998, to life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty in 2005… that’s an outrageous contrast.
Personal and Political Progress
A lot of good was accomplished through all that struggle, trial and tribulation. In 1994, there were no hemp stores, no activist activity, no medical marijuana program, no pot retail industry, not even legally obtained books and magazines about marijuana in Canada. Eleven years later, there are over 75 hemp activist stores; literature and magazines were made legal; medical marijuana is legal; the hemp industry is in a great revival. Marijuana legalization and the drug war have been discussed daily in the Canadian media for the past ten years. Regulations continue to improve for Canada’s medical cannabis program.
Phillip Owen, a former Mayor of Vancouver (1993 to 2001) was at one time a very vocal prohibitionist in office. He denounced me in the New York Times. But by the end of his third term, he became a brilliant and articulate anti-prohibitionist after hearing me speak throughout local elections and in the media.
In December 2002, the White House Drug Czar came to Vancouver for a highly publicized speech at the Vancouver Board of Trade to set the Mayor and other “legalizers” straight. Before his speech began, I went up and asked the Drug Czar if I could have a photograph of us together; when he asked “and who are you?” a photo was snapped as I said, “My name is Marc Emery, I’m the publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine.” He turned beet-red and was hustled away by his agents. As he spoke on stage afterwards, we heckled him when he rattled off his catalog of lies about marijuana. There were five tables of police at that speech, two tables of US Consulate people, over 50 Secret Service agents protecting Walters. Oh, he remembers me all right!
The next day, former Mayor Phillip Owen, Mayor-elect Larry Campbell and city councilors met with Walters. Owen later told the Vancouver Courier paper “It was the most intense meeting of my life. There is no one more uninformed about drugs than the Drug Czar.” Members of City Council recently told me Walters and his lieutenants threatened, screamed at and insulted the elected Vancouver officials, and guaranteed that if Vancouver pursued legal marijuana policies, the border would be shut down to Canadian commerce heading for America.
Current Mayor (and appointed Senator to Canada’s Parliament) Larry Campbell was my rival for Mayor in the Vancouver 2002 election. I got to speak about legalization on over 15 occasions in his presence. He was elected. He spoke at the Beyond Prohibition 2004 Conference in which a grant of $18,000 from Marc Emery Direct Seeds went to the BC Civil Liberties Association to hold the event. That conference is where Mr. Campbell famously and momentously announced that marijuana should legalized, taxed and regulated, and that prohibition should end.
I participated in elections in 1996 (Mayor of Vancouver); 2000 (Canadian Marijuana Party, federal election); 2001 (BC Marijuana Party, provincial election); 2002 (Mayor of Vancouver); 2005 (BC Marijuana Party, provincial election). During the 2005 BC provincial election, Vancouver City Councilman Tim Stevenson invited me to a fundraiser. He introduced me proudly to his supporters at the fundraiser and said “Marc is here to lend his support because he knows I believe in legalization”. I did not run against him in that riding because Tim is a good man; but again, do you think if there was any taint anywhere in my life that these people would introduce me to crowds of key supporters?
Adriane Carr is leader of the BC Green Party. In 2002, the BC Greens launched a petition drive to get proportional representation on the ballot as a people’s initiative. The BC Greens didn’t have the money, but I believed in the cause so I personally gave Adrianne Carr $7,000 to finance the petition drive. That was money from my only source of income – marijuana seed sales!
I never met a person, government agency, politician, tax department, or any charitable or non-governmental agency who refused any money from me, even though I was world famous as a marijuana seed seller. Banks opened accounts and issued credit cards, and I was honest and candid with every last one of them.
Over 10 years, I gave just under $4,000,000 (four million dollars) to North American and international activist organizations, activist politicians, ballot initiatives throughout the United States, referendums, court challenges, Supreme Court of Canada challenges, refugees, bail costs, legal defense funds, political parties, individuals, drug addiction clinics, media, medical bills for activists (Terence McKenna, Jack Herer), Compassion Clubs (legal bills and start-up money), Hemp fests, conferences, Global Marijuana Marches (2000 to 2005), full page anti-prohibition ads in Canadian newspapers, HEMP BC Legal Assistance Centre… and the list goes on. It’s an extraordinary record of unparalleled distribution of the proceeds from our beloved plant.
A month after Walters’ visit, the Vancouver Police Department – who behaved so chummily with Walters on the evening of, and days following his speech – launched an investigation of my seed business with the intent of laying charges. Over 6 months, the VPD scoped out my mail order business, monitored my seed office, bought some seeds undercover, and in the summer of 2003 – during my very successful Summer of Legalization Tour – went to the Crown Attorney to lay charges. But at that time, marijuana was legal to possess in Canada and it was doubtful if seeds were actually illegal. The Crown Attorney refused to proceed with charges.
This had the impact of infuriating the Vancouver Police and John Walters. With the tacit approval of BC Solicitor-General Richard Coleman, the Vancouver Police investigation file was handed over to the DEA in October 2003. The DEA continued the investigation, committing substantial resources and finances to it. The DEA proceeded to order seeds by mail, and comb the records of American growers who were busted with evidence of seed purchases from me.
On April 27, 2004, while I was on a 22-city tour of Canada to promote support for NDP leader Jack Layton, arsonists tried to destroy the BCMP Headquarters and severely damaged it (the Blunt Brothers building next door was entirely destroyed). The Vancouver Police “investigation” revealed nothing, and it has long been thought to be the act of DEA or Vancouver police agents.
After the VPD had failed in their efforts to charge me locally and extinguish our headquarters, I was punished by being jailed for 62 days in Saskatoon Correction Centre on August 19th, 2004 for the crime of passing one joint in Saskatoon earlier that year. I did the same job that Martha Stewart did in her prison: I was the toilet cleaner and janitor for the senior administrative staff of the jail. In October 2004, while still in jail, the DEA started coming to my store to buy from the seed desk. They were assisted by the Vancouver Police Department and BC Solicitor-General Coleman in every way.
On May 6, 2005, while I was campaigning in an election against Solicitor-General Coleman, a grand jury in Seattle, Washington indicted me for seed selling, conspiring to help Americans produce marijuana, and distributing my money (money laundering).
Under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty – which the US pressures every country to sign – the Attorney-General of Canada of Canada, then Irwin Cotler, agreed to allow my arrest for Extradition to the United States to face trial for my activities in Canada. Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney General in the previous Liberal government, was himself a famous human rights activist.
No one in Canada has ever been sentenced to jail for selling seeds. Only two people have ever been fined: myself in 1996 and 1998; and Ian Hunter, fined $200 in the year 2000.
Now Canada has a Conservative Party government that believes all marijuana people who grow and sell and pass joints should go to jail! The Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney-General, Conservative Robert Nicholson, may be the one who holds my fate in the balance. If the BC Supreme Court commits me for extradition after the Extradition Hearing, a five day affair beginning May 28, 2007, then Attorney-General Nicholson holds my fate in his hands.
Depending on how many people write, email or call the politicians of Canada, Robert Nicholson will decide if the government of Canada agrees to the Extradition. The maximum term of incarceration for murder in Canada is 25 years, yet under US federal sentencing guidelines, I would receive minimum 17 to 21 years for being, to quote DEA boss Karen Tandy of the on the day of my arrest, “designated as one of [the US]Attorney-General’s most-wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets – one of only 46 in the world and the only one in Canada.” I’d get an additional mandatory minimum of 10 years on the money laundering charge.
The head of the DEA fumes with contempt in her media release, reiterating four times that her principle concern is with legalization activities. She uses phrases like “publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group”, “is a significant blow … to … the marijuana legalization movement”, “hundreds of thousands of dollars … 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”.
Additionally, the DEA head referred to me as the only target of the DEA in Canada, virtually making me the biggest “kingpin” in all of Canada! She even called Cannabis Culture a “propagandist” magazine!
On CNN’s Lou Dobbs program on March 30, 2005, the DEA claimed I was responsible for the manufacture of 100,000 pounds of marijuana for every year I was in the seed business. Eleven years of revolutionary seed retail activism means the DEA is claiming I am responsible for 1,100,000 pounds of marijuana, with a conservative wholesale value of $3,000,000,000 (three billion dollars). If you figure that aspiring hip hop performer Weldon Angelos got 55 years for one ounce of pot, what do think the sentence is going to be for a man the DEA and US Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales claims is the largest marijuana producer of all time ever prosecuted in the US criminal justice system?
I tell Canadians that to let me be extradited to the United States means Canada will never see me alive again. To the DEA, I am the leader of the movement that seeks to thwart, defy, undermine them and end their reign of terror over the cannabis culture. They are never going to let me walk and talk and campaign against them once I am in their clutches.
For What It’s Worth
Overgrow the Government. Inherent in that beautiful phrase are so many ideals and glories of a co-operative, peaceful society. Plant the seeds of freedom. Not overthrow, which speaks of violent conflict, but overgrow, using God’s greatest plant and the enlightenment that comes from ingesting marijuana to further a peaceful, democratic, revolution based on tolerance and love and unity of all peoples. Plants, not violence. Reason, not murderous incarceration. Personal freedom, not Nazi-like paramilitary violence.
I am being punished for my success. I have achieved much in my eleven years in British Columbia. Clearly, the very dark and powerful forces emanating from the White House believe they have the upper hand, that they have stopped our revolution. This is the time when the Bush-Walters White House is making the most aggressive attack on our culture ever, and not just on me.
In March 2004, my wonderful friend Mike Smith received a 30-year sentence in an Oklahoma federal prison for growing 200 plants. He had already served six years on a previous cultivation offence. His wife, Yvonne Toy, received a 15-year sentence, her first offence ever, for those same 200 plants.
The Bush White House, the DEA, and US police forces are arresting more Americans for marijuana than ever before, pursuing marijuana people with a frenzy never before seen in history. On October 17, 2005, the FBI revealed 771,608 persons were arrested for marijuana violations in 2004. The total is the highest ever and comprised 44.2 percent of all drug arrests in the United States. Since 1965, 17 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offences, and arrests have skyrocketed in the past 12 years.
US Marijuana Arrests by Year
Immediately upon my arrest in Halifax on July 29th, reaction was swift and loud throughout Canada. The Vancouver Sun had a screaming headline “UNCLE SAM ORCHESTRATES VANCOUVER POT BUSTS”. It was all over every Canadian media. I was kept in 4 different jails over 7 days, and saw none of the coverage until I was released on bail on August 5.
As I was being arrested, the largest issue ever of Cannabis Culture Magazine was rolling off the presses. By the time I was released, the magazine with the 12-page Marc Emery Seed catalog was printed, but could not be distributed until the readers were warned not to order seeds from my now-shut down seed business. A sticker was printed and individually attached to all 75,000 copies, and that took over 30 days to complete, delaying the release of the last issue by a full month.
I was now in the most difficult bind in my life. My only source of income was terminated, and I had to make Cannabis Culture Magazine, POT.TV and the BCMP Bookstore self-sufficient immediately. I had to find tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees (obtaining bail the first week took $18,000 in legal fees, an additional $20,000 cash bail for a cash requirement of $38,000 before I even got out of jail). I was without any income and had massive problems to deal with. I immediately had to lay off employees, move out of my apartment, return my rented car, and move in with my assistant editor (and now wife) Jodie. I had to survive on as little as possible; my only income was modest charity from supporters and activists.
With 21 arrests, 17 jailings, and now six raids for marijuana related activity under my belt, I feel experienced enough to tackle my greatest challenge ever. Facing brutal finances, huge legal bills, and life imprisonment without parole for something no one in Canada has ever even gone to jail for, I still have to provide focused, calm and convincing leadership.
I’ve done a record number of interviews with North American and world media since then. The CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes (twice) aired a segment to its twelve million viewers about my struggle to legalize marijuana. I am reaching new audiences: older people, Canadian nationalists, and – to my joy – people who don’t smoke pot, and do not ordinarily identify with the cannabis culture. The staggering punishment to be meted out to me is common in the United States for marijuana offences, and many people in Canada are realizing this for the first time.
From September 10 to September 24 in 2005, there were demonstrations on my behalf at Canadian and US embassies and consulates in 43 cities around the world. Mapinc.org has archives of over 300 letters printed in newspapers condemning my extradition, and over 400 newspapers and publications have written about my work and the extradition request.
I tell people now that this extradition attempt is a blessing, because it has galvanized the world movement for cannabis peace. It has given me an even stronger personal urge to have marijuana legalized in Canada within two years, and I am given opportunity in regular media exposure to be a proud spokesperson for our great culture. I am not afraid of the task ahead of me. I am not afraid of jail for the rest of my life, undoubtably painful as that would be. I don’t fear prison rape or abuse or suffering or lonliness, though those miseries will no doubt be present in a US federal prison. My fear is that the marijuana people will continue to be taken away to lives of ruin and despair by a murderous police state. My fear is that Canada will be absorbed as a compliant puppet state of the US War on Drugs. My fear is that the DEA, with offices in 65 nations around the Earth, will have more and more citizens from other countries extradited to the USA to face draconian punishments for the rest of their lives.
I fear for Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams, facing extradition for simply being in my activist organization. Greg, aka Marijuana Man of Pot.tv, is a fine and wonderful friend who brings knowledge, joy and pleasure to everyone he meets. He is being punished for being a supporter of me and the movement. Michelle is the most selfless activist I have ever known. A fantastic woman, she suffers daily with Crohns Disease, and needs marijuana to control her very damaged and disabled organs, yet has helped hundreds – if not thousands – of people with her unrelenting effort to make marijuana legal.
Michelle has been my great ally in this struggle, and she surely should be nominated for sainthood. She is so worthy of your support. She MUST NOT be extradited to a US jail. She will die in horrible pain there. My American friends, my Canadian friends, this cannot be permitted to happen. A terrible injustice will have occurred if Michelle Rainey exists in pain and torture in an American jail. There will be terrible karma in the world if one of God’s most beautiful souls is allowed to be destroyed by apathy and cowardice in her most critical time of need. The people can save her from extradition, if they speak out to the Canadian Minister of Justice. Speak to power, my friends; her life depends on it.
The months ahead will be filled with unprecedented personal challenges for me. I will try to speak on behalf of our culture with passion, reason and good values. I will be interviewed extensively, and I hope I am a spokesman and activist and leader you can be proud of.
I certainly could use your help. I need an army of activists writing letters, petitioning, wearing NO EXTRADITION T-shirts, demonstrating in front of Canadian consulates and embassies, voting in elections, joining a political party in Canada or the United States to make your views on prohibition heard. I certainly need any money you can give. If you believe my record of service to our culture merits your support, then I tell you: we need your support.
Marijuana is a 7 to 15 billion-dollar a year industry in Canada, where hundreds of thousands – perhaps half a million – people are growing and selling marijuana. Millions and millions of Canadians and Americans consume this marijuana. Canadian growers, dealers, and seed sellers deal with Americans every day.
In the aftermath of my arrest for activity I did here in Canada, it is apparent any activist or handler of seeds, medical marijuana, or commercial marijuana could be extraditable. If you have any connection to any marijuana transaction that traces to the USA, you are liable to be considered party to a conspiracy to import marijuana into the United States. That’s certainly bringing the US drug war into Canada in an incredible and dangerous way. Everyone in Canada’s cannabis culture is now at much greater risk because of this precedent.
Yet Canadians don’t want this barbaric drug war. After 10 years of our activism, Canadians now overwhelmingly reject fines, jail time or any punishment as an option for marijuana possession, according to a NORML Canada November 2004 nation-wide poll. A majority of Canadians favor a taxed and regulated system of marijuana distribution.
While Canada pursues an independent approach to cannabis laws and prohibition, away from the US drug war model, there is hope for both Canadians and Americans of the cannabis culture. If Canada becomes free from prohibition, then American prohibition will fall. But if the United States government is allowed to triumph with intimidation, blackmail, and increased arrests in Canada, stifling our progress, and sending Canada backwards, then liberation for all North America is that much more elusive.