Canadian Seed Seller Avoids Jail Sentence

When it comes to marijuana seeds, most Canadians are familiar with the case of Marc Emery, a well-known activist facing extradition and five years in a US prison for selling seeds online—but a lesser-known case involving a Canadian seed-seller named Richard Baghdadlian, one of the few cases in history where a Canadian has faced charges for selling marijuana seeds, has just wrapped up in a Quebec courtroom.

A judge sentenced the wealthy Montreal businessman to two years less a day to be served in the community.

According to the few press reports available about the trial, court evidence showed Baghdadlian’s online pot seed company was doing “booming business”. His company, Heaven’s Stairway, made about 3.5 million dollars between 2000 and 2005, through popular websites like Overgrow.com.

The case has been playing out through the justice system since Baghdadlian’s arrest in early 2006, nine months after the raid on Marc Emery’s Direct seed business by the US DEA and the Vancouver police department. Crown prosecutors had asked the judge for a 5-year sentence for Baghdadlian, claiming he knew exactly what he was doing when he broke the law.

Baghdadlian pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to import and export marijuana seeds and inciting marijuana production.

But will Baghdadlian’s light sentence have any bearing on Emery’s case?

“It’s certainly helpful in the fact that he didn’t get a jail sentence,” Emery told Cannabis Culture, “and yet he had half a million dollars cash on hand, gold bars, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and property that was seized by the crown. He didn’t get any jail time; the judge ruled that there was no precedent for any more than a month in jail for a fairly large seed business, and that was the one example from British Columbia.”

Emery was referring to the 2007 case of Daniel Anthony Kostantin, a BC man sentenced to 30 days in prison for selling marijuana seeds.

“I don’t know whether it will affect my extradition,” Emery said, “because in my case it is all political anyway, but it is certainly a helpful precedent to lend to the credibility of our argument that it is political.

Emery and his supporters say that the 2005 DEA raid on his business was an overtly political act, as evidenced by statements made at the time by DEA administrator Karen Tandy, calling Emery’s arrest “a signficant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement.”

“His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today,” she said. “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 Canda. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.”

Click here to find out how to help Marc Emery stay out of an American prison.

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