What to Write to Help Marc

Here is a letter from our lawyers explaining what you should write when contacting the US Justice Department asking for Marc to be transferred.

December 7, 2010

To: Friends and Supporters of Marc Emery

From: Sylvia Royce, American attorney and
Kirk Tousaw, Canadian attorney

Re: Letters in support of Marc’s prisoner transfer to Canada

Dear All:

First, we apologize for the form letter, but it is the only effective manner to get this information to everyone. Please allow us to explain.

As you know, Marc was arrested in 2005 in Canada and eventually brought to the United States to face charges that he had violated U.S. drug laws. In the face of a certain conviction and prison time of at least 10 years and possibly up to 25 years, he quickly pleaded guilty and was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison. There is a treaty between Canada and the United States which allows citizens of each to go to their home country to serve their foreign sentence. There is no reduction in the sentence after transfer, but because Canadian parole practices are more generous than the U.S. laws on supervised release, Canadians who return to Canada are almost invariably released on parole far in advance of when they would be released in the U.S.

The sentencing judge in Marc’s case recommended that “any application by Mr. Emery to serve his sentence in Canada pursuant to [the Treaty]be approved.” But the recommendation of the sentencing judge does not end the matter. Applications must be approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, of which the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is a part. So we must persuade the Department of Justice to ignore its own colleagues to obtain their approval for Marc’s transfer.

Marc deliberately disobeyed U.S. (and Canadian) drug policy in an effort to bring about an important political change. This is in the tradition of civil disobedience as a means of political protest. In the civil disobedience tradition, however, the perpetrator often faces the consequences of the illegal act in an effort to draw attention to the unjust law. Here, we are asking the Department of Justice to accord Marc a benefit which will have the effect of reducing the amount of time he will serve in prison, and having him serve it in a different political environment. Thus, we face another hurdle in persuading the Department of Justice to approve Marc for transfer, because in their eyes Marc will appear to be just another criminal looking for a break, not an advocate for sensible public policy.

Marc’s transfer case will probably be decided on the U.S. side around February 1, 2011. If you would like to write to the U.S. authorities in support of Marc’s transfer, please prepare your letter as follows:

1. Address the letter to:

Paula A. Wolff, Chief
International Prisoner Transfer Program
U.S. Department of Justice

2. Send the original of your letter (not a copy, please) to:

Kirk Tousaw
142-757 West Hastings, Suite 211
Vancouver, British Columbia V6C1A1

Kirk will assemble all the letters at the end of January and send them in a single FedEx to Sylvia.

3. In your letter, please consider the following:

a. First, tell Ms. Wolff a little about yourself: who you are, what you do for a living, how you know Marc Emery, and how long you have know him. Make sure that Marc’s full name is mentioned in the first few lines of your letter or on a separate line after the address.

b. Second, acknowledge in your letter that you are aware of the basic underlying situation, and that you understand that Marc admitted his illegal conduct in the U.S. If you believe that Marc has accepted responsibility for his actions, include that.

c. Share with Ms. Wolff your opinions of Marc, both as a person and as an advocate for legalizing marijuana within the U.S. and Canada. Indicate whether you think society would benefit from Marc’s return to Canada, and whether, in your opinion, he is likely to violate the law again. If you know anything about Marc’s prior charges for violating marijuana laws in Canada, indicate whether you think he will resume that. As you may know, Marc himself has promised to obey the law upon his return to Canada or release from prison.

d. Indicate somewhere that you understand that transfer is a matter of grace or government discretion, not a routine matter or a right.

e. Please type your letter if at all possible. Handwritten letters can be hard to read and we want to be sure that the U.S. authorities read all your letters.


Kirk Tousaw and Sylvia Royce


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