Negotiations Hit a Snag in Plea Deal by US and Canada’s “Prince of Pot”

Marc Emery in September 2005Marc Emery in September 2005VANCOUVER, BC – A deal to resolve the extradition fight between Canada’s “Prince of Pot” and US drug authorities has hit a snag, the marijuana activist said on Wednesday, March 5th. The United States wants to extradite Marc Emery — who founded a political party and campaigned across Canada to legalize pot — on charges he illegally sold marijuana seeds from his Vancouver store to American buyers.
Emery tentatively agreed with US prosecutors in January to plead guilty in return for the charges being dropped against two other defendants and he being allowed to spend the bulk of a 10-year sentence in Canada. Canada must also approve the deal, but its prosecutors say a Canadian judge cannot be ordered to impose a US prison sentence of no release for at least five years that is stricter than Canadian law requires.

“The Canadian government says that’s not legal in Canada … and so Justice Department in the United States says the deal is not possible because the Canadians are not playing ball so to speak,” Emery told reporters.

Emery was in court in Vancouver on Wednesday to set a date for his extradition trial, but a judge agreed to postpone the hearing until April 9 to allow his lawyers, US and Canadian prosecutors to continue negotiating. Emery said he will fight extradition if a deal is not reached.

Emery has accused Canadian police of bowing to US political demands by arresting him in 2005, since his activities were well-known and tolerated in Canada — where he even paid taxes on his seed sales.

– Article from Reuters

“Prince of Pot” still willing to do his time

VANCOUVER/CKNW (AM980) – Marc Emery is still willing to spend up to five years behind bars, if it means his friends don’t have to serve one day in prison. That’s what Vancouver’s self-professed “Prince of Pot” is saying as he waits for US federal prosecutors to agree they won’t have him extradited.

“It’s not like I feel I deserve to be tried in the US, but this deal gets me convicted in both countries and this sentence would be served in Canada principally and about three to six months in the united states.” Emery and two associates — Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams — are accused of selling marijuana seeds over the internet and if convicted in the US they’d each face at least ten years in prison.

“Because normally on a ten-year sentence, I’d be released as a non-violent first offender from a federal penitentiary in just 20 months, but the US refuses to accept that.” Emery’s next court appearance regarding his possible extradition has been set for April 9th.

– Article from CKNW radio

Deal stalls in sending Vancouver pot advocate Marc Emery to U.S. prison

VANCOUVER — Marijuana crusader Marc Emery is blaming a clash of judicial cultures for delays in a plea bargain that would send him to prison briefly in the United States before serving several years in Canada.

The so-called Prince of Pot’s extradition case was put over Wednesday until April 9 at the request of his lawyer and a federal prosecutor representing the U.S. Justice Department.
No reason was given but Emery said outside B.C. Supreme Court that there’s a disagreement about the legality of the deal in Canada.

“What’s at stake is the Canadian prosecutorial service doesn’t think that it’s possible to make a deal where a Canadian judge is compelled to do something specific, like put me in jail for a minimum length of time or set some kind of parole date,” he said.

“The Canadian government says that’s not legal in Canada and that’s what they’ve told the US prosecution and so the Justice Department in the United States is saying that our deal’s not possible – that they have to actually put in writing – because the Canadians aren’t playing ball, so to speak.”

The Vancouver-based pot-legalization advocate and co-accused Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey are charged in the U.S. with selling marijuana seeds over the Internet. A plea bargain was in the works that would see charges dropped against Williams and Rainey while Emery would plead guilty and receive a prison sentence.

Emery said if negotiations can’t produce an agreement that would put him in prison for about five years – with only a few months to be served in U.S. custody – then an extradition hearing would likely go ahead in the fall. He said his lawyers have advised him that a joint submission is almost always accepted by a judge and could include a set parole date.

“That would satisfy the Americans’ need to have an in-custody incarceration for up to five years,” he said. Emery said that in the U.S. system [CORRECTION: Emery said that in the CANADIAN system] a non-violent first-time offender like him would normally be released in about 20 months but American authorities refuse to accept that. He said the U.S. wants a Canadian judge to be bound by the agreement for a minimum prison sentence.

The deal being negotiated would see him convicted on both sides of the border, Emery said. He would serve three to six months in a U.S. prison before being transferred to a Canadian institution for the balance of his sentence. Emery said he finds the whole process odd. “The Canadian government could just have me charged and that would lay the matter to rest and they wouldn’t have to be concerned because some judge would come to a determination as to whether I should be incarcerated,” he said.

“This to me is more like collaboration with the United States. It’s like outsourcing our justice system to the United States. I don’t consider I should have to go to jail at all. I’m doing this to save my two co-accused and to somewhat resolve the matter.”

Emery has been a thorn in the side of Canadian authorities for years, holding highly publicized pot “smoke-ins” in a drive to legalize the drug. His efforts have included a cross-Canada tour when he smoked cartoon-sized joints in front of city police departments. He spent two months in a Saskatoon jail after one of his pro-pot protests. American authorities started the extradition process three years ago when a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Emery on conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds into the United States over the Internet.

– Article from Canadian Press