Seeds of Conflict

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Canadian marijuana activist Marc Emery has been arrested in Halifax based on U.S. charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. Each of the marijuana charges, which stem from his online cannabis seed business (now shut down), carries a penalty of 10 years to life in prison. Emery's extradition will in effect impose U.S. drug policy on Canada, where the penalties for marijuana offenses are much less severe. Because many of his customers were Americans, the business he openly operated in Vancouver for 10 years could now be the basis for a life sentence.

U.S. authorities seem to have been especially irritated by Emery's fame and his vocal opposition to the war on drugs. "I am pleased to announce that he is out of business as of today," a DEA agent said at a press conference in Seattle on Friday. "His overblown arrogance and abuse of the rule of law will no longer be on display. Like other drugs, marijuana harms the innocents." Perhaps he was referring to supporters of the war on drugs who are naive enough to believe that busting a seed merchant will have a noticeable impact on marijuana consumption.

[Thanks to Mike Kerrigan for the link.]

Update: Paul Feine of the Institute for Humane Studies was on his way to Vancouver when Emery was arrested. Police also raided the Vancouver headquarters of the B.C Marijuana Party, which Emery headed. Paul writes that it "seems fair to assume that the DEA chose Emery as the target specifically because he is such an outspoken and influential spokesman for pot legalization. There are lots of other companies selling pot seeds in Vancouver and Amsterdam, for example. In other words, the activists in Vancouver consider him a political prisoner."

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  1. This is what neoconservatives, etc. call the “new sovereignty.”

  2. If you need proof that marijuana causes mental illness just listen to the insane rantings of cops, prosecutors and politicians when they get going on the subject.

    And, contrary to popular belief, this craziness is not limited to the good old US of A. Despite rumours of drug friendliness in such locales as Amsterdam and Vancouver the Euros and the Canucks are every bit as bad in their own way.

  3. I’m surprised that this story hasn’t merited more notice in the news media.

  4. i happened to be on holiday in vancouver this past weekend and, rather than stopping by to meet our kind activist neighbors to the north, i ended up attending a protest on their behalf. i for one was not proud to be an american. returning home to find out that the media apparently has little interest in the story was equally disheartening.

    apparently the DOJ has interpreted the Raich decision to mean that they can enforce US drug laws in other countries as well…

  5. Forget about states’ rights.

    The big fight is foreign countries’ rights!

  6. I don’t use marijuana, but I can’t tell you what I think about this or what my gut reaction is.
    I would hate to incriminate myself.

  7. @ “:August 3”
    “Amsterdam and Vancouver…every bit as bad in their own way”
    Extraditing people to 10 to life in a American prison?
    for weed? I blame Canada

  8. Blame Canada

    Times have changed,
    Our kids are getting worse
    They won’t obey their parents,
    They just want to fart and curse. Should we blame the government, or blame society, or should we blame the images on tv No!
    Blame Canada! Blame Canada

    With all their beady little eyes,
    their flapping heads so full of lies
    Blame Canada!
    Blame Canada!
    We need to form a full assault, it’s Canada’s fault! Don’t blame me, for my son Stan, He saw the darn cartoon, and now he’s off to
    join the klan!> And my boy eric once, had my picture on his shelf, but now when I see him, he tells me to fuck myself>

    Well, Blame Canada!

    It seems that everything’s gone wrong since
    Canada came along
    Blame Canada!
    Blame Canada! They’re not even a real country anyway. My son could of been a doctor or a lawyer, it’s a true, Instead he burned up like a piggie on a barbecue> Should we blame the matches? Should we blame the fire, or the doctor who allowed him to expire. Heck no!
    Blame Canada!
    Blame Canada!
    With all their hockey hubaloo and that bitch Anne Murray too. Blame Canada!
    Shame on Canada!

    The smut we must stop
    The trash we must smash
    Laughter and fun
    must all be undone
    We must blame them and cause a fuss
    Before somebody thinks of blaming us!

  9. Why the hell don’t other countries grow some balls in regards to us, for Christ’s sake? I can see why the Latin American countries are afraid to stand up to us concerning the drug war, because they have good reason to fear we’ll use our military to punish them. But Canada?

  10. Listening to the radio today, I heard a conversation with a Vancouver journalist who said that the issue here is that there is a treaty with Canada that says people can be extradited for anything that is a crime in both countries. Even though Canada is much more lax about pot, marijuana is still illegal according to their laws. Hence, in order to keep to maintain the rules of the treaty, this man was arrested and his extradition hearings will go forth.

    However, there is a public outcry about this in Canada with many people urging the government to step in on this man’s behalf. It seems to me what they need to do, really, is legalize marijuana at which point there would be no need to go through the motions of extradition.

  11. B.D.–

    Wouldn’t it be fabulous if, as a result of this, the Canadians DO legalize it? Ha! Finally, some foreign-policy blowback that actually makes the world a BETTER place!

  12. Always amusing to hear DEA agents referring to “arroagance and abuse of the rule of law.”

  13. Jennifer,

    That would be a beautiful thing. I’d drive up to Vancouver for the party!

  14. In a related tale that I don’t recall being mentioned here, there was a bust on the border of 3 people accused of smuggling pot across the U.S. border into Washington state. The interesting thing about this tale is that they used provisions of the so-called Patriot Act in order to plant microphones and cameras in the tunnel.

    Story here: http://www.vivelecanada.ca/article.php/20050801082731867

  15. Jennifer,

    Speaking of fucked up law enforcement…

    Threadjack:

    Have you been following the Menezes investigation? Have you noticed how quickly the story of the cops is collapsing?

    He used his travel card and didn’t jump the barrier.

    He was wearing a denim jacket.

    The guy who jumped ticket machine was apparently a plainclothes cop.

    No one heard the cops yell anything about being the “police,” etc., and police procedure was NOT to identify themselves to a suspected suicide-bomber.

  16. This makes me sick. Is there any doubt that the drug war is more of a danger to our lives and freedom than terrorism?

  17. Attention Seattle Area Reasonoids (and everybody else):

    You still retain, and should exercise whenever necessary, the right to jury nullification and dissent in the jury room.

  18. We’ll give them hell at the Seattle Hempfest Aug 20-21. Marc Emery’s lawyer will be speaking.

  19. “Wouldn’t it be fabulous if, as a result of this, the Canadians DO legalize it?”

    You’d think so, but that will also be the day that the U.S. declares Canada a source of narco-terrorism and sends in the Waffen SS… I mean, the U.S. Marines to “liberate” it.

  20. Having lived on the border (in various places all my life, I can say this without fear of contradiciton:

    “Canada and the US are equally f***ed up in different ways”

    The audacity of US authorities for thinking they could enforce their laws in another country is outragous.

    The spinelessness of Canadian authorities for playing along is repulsive.

    To answer Jennifer’s question about why Canada is playing along, there are a couple reasons:

    1. Authorities are authorities. No matter which side of the border you’re on: “if you ain’t cops you’re little people.”

    2. Every time the US sneezes, Canada gets pneumonia. I’m convinced that the main reason Canada has not yet legalized the demon weed is because it would mean ‘the world’s longest undefended border’ would become the Mexican border and the Canadian economy simply can’t survive that.

    3. There’s a substantial anti-marijuana element in Canada too. Outside of BC (Beachbum Canada, British California…) where marijuana is THE number one cash crop, the demand for legalization is hardly voiciferous.

    4. We had the dubious ‘balls’ to stay out of the latest round of the Gulf War. Look how much good THAT did for us. Once bitten…

    Keep in mind of course that the authorities in either country should not be confused with the ‘just plain folks’ who live there. Contrary to popular opinion, we’re far more alike (ESPECAILLY along the border) than anyone wants to admit.

    Jake
    (who has thought about emmigrating to the US, but with INS and all.. well, if I wanted a government agency to have a microscope up my butt 24/7 I could save my moving expenses and just stay here.)

  21. Not One,

    Good article. I read that in the paper a couple of weeks ago. This morning on the BBC radio, the business folks spoke with the authors of “Freakanomics”. One of the topics was the common misconception, perpetuated by the media and law enforcement that drug dealers are making good money. In fact, like most corporations, only the people at the top are making really good money. Most street dealers cannot make enough to even move out of their mom’s homes. The higher up the chain, the more money you make. So, as Campbell notes: legalize it, but also create distribution networks that can create decent wages and jobs.

  22. the Waffen SS… I mean, the U.S. Marines

    Way to show your ass, Akira.

    Not to mention your absolutely abysmal ignorance of the history and actions of these two organizations.

  23. This guy knowingly and deliberately shipped marijuana seeds to the US. His outspoken rhetoric only serves to establish that his violations were premeditated.

    Whether or not our drug laws are dumb, it would be entirely inappropriate for our law enforcement agencies to ignore this. It’s not the FBI’s job to make policy.

  24. bubba – no, not their job, but I believe it is their job to enforce laws fairly and equally, and the fact they are leaning on the political guy and not the other seed dealers covers them in shit as much as their policy making masters

  25. It seems like the authorities have a personal hatred against this guy. Read the full article and you get a sense of what I mean. One quote says “His overblown arrogance and abuse of the rule of law will no longer be on display…” I think law enforcement wanted to arrest this guy just because he made law enforcement look so weak. I wish authorities stop abusing their power in order to look and feel tough.

    Thanks for the link Adam.

  26. If this guy was just selling to Canadians I would agree with all you dopers, it would be none of our business. But he was selling in the USA and breaking our laws. If we can get him we should.

    The thinking that foreigners who sell illegal drugs in the USA should get a pass is rediculous. That would mean we shouldn’t touch the drug lords in South America who are flooding our streets with cocaine.

    If you drugies want to smoke dope, why not move to Canada? You would be happier and so would I.

  27. RA:

    Fact: Emery sold over the internet from Canada. He was not, as you state, “…selling in the USA and breaking our laws.”

    Canadians are already protesting the issue, and planning additional anti-American rallies.

    Should we pass the flag burning constitutional amendment, your logic implies that Canadians who burn our flag in their protests should be extradited to the US and subsequently prosecuted.

    Would that make you happy?

  28. Jake (or any other Canadians) ,

    Do you think Chretien’s government would have proceeded with extradition, or do you think this is part of Paul Martin’s plan to re-establish better relations with the US? It seemed to me that the more liberal Chretien was a bit more independant than Martin when it comes to Canada-US relations

  29. The battle was lost here in the US when white collar types sat back
    and watched the grimy handed truck drivers and military grunts forced
    into piss tests in the name of “safety”. We blue collars appreciate your help…

  30. I doubt Chretien would have extradited Emery, he had a lot of faults but he wasnt that much of an idiot. Martin totally sucks.

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