Marc Emery is Just the Latest Prohibition Victim

Re: “Prince of Pot’s” punishment was no surprise (Daily News, Sept. 29)

For the record, Marc Emery is not the “self-proclaimed” Prince of Pot. His royal title was first bestowed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, and later popularized by CNN.

Several factors make Emery’s case unique, and different from that of a common “drug pusher.” Emery donated his profits to individuals and organizations working to reform cannabis laws. Canadian and U.S. authorities were aware of this. In a press release following Emery’s arrest, Karen Tandy, of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, announced, “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.”

Extradition laws require that signatory countries need not honour them when “the conduct in respect of which extradition is sought is a political offence or an offence of a political character.”

Given that dozens of Canadians are currently doing what Emery did — shipping cannabis seeds to the U.S. with impunity — it seems fair to conclude that Emery’s arrest was politically motivated.

Further, extradition laws require what is called “dual criminality.”

The offender must have committed a crime punishable by two or more years of incarceration in both countries. While selling cannabis seeds is technically an imprisonable offence in Canada, only one other Canadian has ever been charge with the crime, and he was fined $200. Emery openly exported seeds and paid taxes as a self-proclaimed cannabis seed vendor for several years.

When charged by Canadian authorities in 1998, Emery was fined $2,000.

Emery’s “crime” is different than that of an adult who lures children across the border over the internet in that no one was victimized. It was equivalent to selling wine grape seeds to Americans during alcohol prohibition.

Emery’s arrest, extradition and incarceration are not the least bit surprising to those of us who agree that cannabis prohibition is politically motivated, expensive, wasteful, hypocritical, ineffective, disproportionately enforced, unjust and patently absurd. Emery’s case grotesquely illustrates what innumerable parliamentary committees, criminologists, economists and social activists have been saying ad nauseam for decades.

Matthew Elrod


– Letter to the Editor from The Nanaimo Daily News on October 5, 2009.