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Pot shots

The marijuana legalization movement marches on with Cannabis Liberation Day.Brent Sedo reports.

photo Michael Tompkins

Listing his occupation as Marijuana Seed Vendor on his tax returns, Canadian anti-marijuana prohibition activist, Marc Emery, has paid over $575,000 to Revenue Canada since 1999, with Revenue Canada never once raising the issue of whether the money was the proceeds of a crime.

In 2003, Health Canada advised medicinal marijuana patients that seeds for producing pot could be had through internet mail-order, the very business Emery was in.

The British Columbia resident has testified twice before the Canadian Senate as an expert in marijuana issues based on his occupation and activism and knowledge of marijuana seed genetics.

Clearly, the Canadian government doesn’t consider Emery a criminal.

Yet on July 29, at the request of the US Drug Enforcement Agency under what is called the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act, RCMP and Halifax police arrested Emery, while he was in Halifax visiting, for extradition to the United States to face drug trafficking and money-laundering charges. The DEA also enlisted the aid of Vancouver police to raid Emery’s home and the BC Marijuana Party office and bookstore, arresting two of Emery’s associates.

All three now face charges in the US. If convicted, Emery could spend the rest of his life in prison. Due to the volume of seeds he has sold over the years, Emery could be classified a ‘Drug Kingpin’ under US laws, for which US courts can levy the death penalty.

So while two Canadian government departments, and the Canadian Senate, have all but endorsed Emery’s activities, the Canadian Justice Ministry is preparing to argue he should be sent to face US charges for those very same activities. A hearing in BC Supreme Court will take place September 16.

Suddenly, the Canadian government’s position on Emery is not so clear, a point organizers of Cannabis Liberation Day, to be held Saturday at Grand Parade, are hoping to make. World wide, September 10 has been declared “Smoke Out America Day” with rallies in dozens of North American cities and at Canadian Embassies from Warsaw to Moscow to Mexico City.

“We see this so often, with one government ministry not knowing what the other is doing, and no political leadership,” says activist and Liberation Day MC Mike Patriquen. “Paul Martin is there and he’s not doing a damn thing. Anne McLellan, with her new portfolio of Public Safety Minister, has the Justice Ministry and Attorney General and RCMP all answering to her. And she’s in tight with the Americans, so she’s really at the root of all this.”

On the day he was arrested, the DEA issued a statement calling Emery “the founder of a marijuana legalization group” saying the arrest represented a “significant blow” to “the marijuana legalization movement.” It’s a resounding slap in the face—if not a threat—to Canadians engaged in legal political activism, as well as the Senate, which concluded from their own hearings that legalization and controlled distribution of marijuana should be undertaken in Canada.

Patriquen says that’s why Saturday’s event isn’t just another “Legalize It” rally, and not only about Emery. “The Americans getting Marc is one step, and the next step is the imposition of American-style drug policy in Canada against the political will of Canadians,” he says, naming a number of locations across Canada where the DEA has offices. “It’s here now—they’re doing it. They’re like the camel that pokes his nose in the tent at night, and by morning it’s got the whole tent.”

It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. If three branches of Canadian government consider Emery a law-abiding citizen, it’s ludicrous for the Justice Minister to extradite him to face severe criminal penalties in another country. If they believed he was doing something illegal, and didn’t act accordingly, they are complicit in his crimes.

Another scenario is that Revenue Canada and Health Canada simply did their part to let Emery ply his trade while the DEA gathered evidence.

That raises the question of who the Canadian government is working for. It’s something Canadians should care about, whether they sympathize with Marc Emery or not.

Cannabis Liberation day, noon to 5pm, september 10 at Grand Parade Square.

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