Prince of Pot Marc Emery could be extradited to U.S. Friday

Elaine O’Connor, Canwest News Service  Published: Thursday, January 07, 2010

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Marc Emery talks with media outside court in Vancouver in March, 2008. Andy Clark/Reuters Marc Emery talks with media outside court in Vancouver in March, 2008.

VANCOUVER — Vancouver marijuana activist Marc Emery is taking his last puff of freedom — as the clock counts down on an extradition order that will send him to a U.S. jail for five years.

Mr. Emery, founder of the B.C. Marijuana Party and publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine, is currently out on bail waiting for Federal Justice Minister and Attorney General Rob Nicholson to sign the extradition order, which can be done any time after Friday.

Mr. Emery says he will not turn fugitive, but will obey the order, when it comes.

Until then, Mr. Emery, often referred to as B.C.’s Prince of Pot, is making the most of his last days of freedom.

"I’ve been enjoying every moment of it out with my wife. We are just living day to day," he said.

Mr. Emery’s trouble with U.S. authorities stemmed from his online mail-order marijuana seed business, "Marc Emery Direct Seeds," which he ran from 1994 to 2005.

Trade in seeds is illegal in Canada and the U.S., but the law is seldom enforced here.

By 2005, the U.S. Justice Department got wind of the seeds coming into their country. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency raided Mr. Emery’s business, and the Canadian government was asked to extradite him to America to face charges of conspiracy to produce and traffic marijuana and to launder the proceeds of crime — charges that could have landed him a life sentence in a U.S. prison.

After a failed legal bid to serve his time in Canada, Mr. Emery signed a plea bargain in September 2009 to avoid a U.S. trial. The deal reduced his sentence to five years in a U.S. federal prison.

"It’s clearly a political case against me," Mr. Emery said. "It’s not because of any harm I have done."

Mr. Emery was detained in North Fraser Pretrial Centre as his lawyers argued his case in an extradition hearing in B.C. Supreme Court. He was released on bail Nov. 18.

After his hearing concluded, his lawyer was given a reprieve until this week to submit final documents, owing to an illness — which meant the extradition order could not be filed until today at the earliest.

Mr. Emery said he expects to be held at SeaTac Federal Detention Centre outside Seattle for several weeks following his transfer to the U.S. while officials decide where he will serve his sentence.

Canwest News Servic

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