According to reports published by Canadian press today, the well-known Vancouver marijuana activist Marc Emery and two associates have been arrested at the request of the American Drug Enforcement Agency(D.E.A.). The warrant for his arrest was issued under something called the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.
Marc Emery, Gregory Keith Williams, and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek have all been charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, to distribute marijuana seeds, and money-laundering. The warrant calls for their extradition to the States to face these charges.
If the trio are found guilty they could face from ten years to life in jail. Why Vancouver police waited for the U.S. to take action against the trio is slightly unclear. When asked, the spokesperson said that they had known about Emery’s operation for a while, but that they had been acting on U.S. information and investigations take time.
Judging by the vindictive nature of the American attorney general’s statement, it seems like the U.S. justice system wants to get their hands on them. The obvious reason for this is that Canada has nowhere near the punitive laws or attitude against marijuana that currently exists at the federal levels of government in America.
The D.E.A. has already given Emery a catchy nickname for the popular press and C.N.N. In the warrant sworn out by the judge they had referred to him as the “Prince of Pot.” They are setting him up to be some sort of drug King Pin – a sort of Canadian version of the Columbian cocaine cartels.
But Marc Emery’s crime in their eyes goes far beyond what he sells from his store, “The Toker’s Bowl” in downtown Vancouver. He is the head of the British Columbia Marijuana Party, which pushes for the decriminalization of possession and cultivation of the drug.
With Canada flirting with decriminalization of simple possession after already legalizing medical marijuana, Emery must be seen in their eyes as a key force in the upcoming debates on the matter. They probably hope that by removing him from the picture it will take a while for another outspoken advocate to rise up in his place.
But arresting a person is one thing, getting him extradited is another. According to the laws of Canada, we will not allow a person to be sent to stand trial if they face punishment that is significantly crueller than what they would face here.
In this case we are dealing with the request for Canadian citizens to be tried in a country whose attitude and penalties for the crime in question are significantly more draconian than ours. The charges in of themselves, save the money laundering charge, are relatively insignificant. They are not being charged with shipping thousands of pounds of the drug across the border, or even directly cultivating it on their own.
They have been selling seeds. Nothing more. Any of you out there who have tried growing your own will know that it is fraught with difficulties, and your chances for success and quality of return are significantly long. Even growing your own vegetables is not something everyone can do, so the process of growing a tropical plant in a temperate climate is fraught with difficulties.
The idea that this is a crime equal to that of actually cultivating and selling of the final product is ludicrous, and the D.E.A. zeal for an arrest and trial speaks of a vendetta against the individuals. In fact this was made obvious by their spokesperson’s comment about “his (Emery’s) overwhelming arrogance and abuse of the law (which) will no longer be tolerated”
What is even more interesting about this case is the fact that Emery has been running his operation since 1994 without any harassment or arrests by the Vancouver police force. It’s only now that the D.E.A. has become involved that any action has been taken. In Canada, nothing that he has done is considered important enough to warrant jail time, or wasting police resources on.
What’s next? Will they start issuing warrants to arrest the people running needle exchanges and demanding their extradition? Charge them with conspiracy to promote the use of intravenous drugs?
From the way the American officials were talking, these people sound like hardened criminals who are a threat to the very fabric of society. Get a grip. It’s not like they’ve killed anyone or pose any sort of serious threat to American safety. With all the supposed terrorists that Canada is harbouring, why use these people to make use of their ability to seek someone’s arrest?
The only thing I can think of is that they are trying to pressure Canadian officials not to relax marijuana laws any further. In their eyes we are probably a bunch of spineless liberals without the guts to do what’s needed in the “war on drugs”. (How come everything is a “war”?) I’ll be very surprised if Stephen Harper, head of the Canadian Conservative Party, a group of social conservatives, doesn’t come out with an anti-pot statement in the near future.
There have been no reports about the substance of what Steven Harper and George Bush talked about in their recent meeting, but I’ve got to wonder why Bush would bother meeting with the leader of the opposition party in Canada. Maybe he was only expressing his condolences on their failure to bring down the sitting government, or preventing the legalization of same-sex marriage.
But I can’t get over the feeling that the matters of substance and mutual interest they were discussing have a lot to do with George issuing orders to his subordinate in the war against social justice. Briefing him on what things he needs to concentrate on in the upcoming year that are near and dear to George’s heart. Steven has proven himself a more than willing puppet, oops, ally in the past. If George wants to promote his zero tolerance on drugs in Canada he’s got to make sure that his sycophants know what to say.
Fortunately this will be a matter for our courts to decide, and no matter what either Mr. Harper, Mr. Bush or the D.E.A. want if they find the extradition request violates the spirit of our laws it will be turned down. We are still after all a sovereign nation and have the right to have laws that are different from other countries.
The three accused individuals were carrying their crimes out in Canada, are Canadian citizens and therefore should be subject to the laws of Canada. If they were ever foolish enough to enter the United States than the Americans could have their go at them, like any other individual indicted by a grand jury who lives outside of their borders.
If Canadian authorities did not think Mr Emery and his associates worthy of their time and effort, then I can not see how anybody can justify them being extradited to the United States to stand trial. I admit stranger things have happened, but in this case there is little or no evidence to warrant this action.
One final note. I wonder that the D.E.A. has not gone after Amazon for conspiracy to cultivate. The number of books they sell offering tips and hints is astounding.