Drug Policy

Prince of Pot Gets 'Only' Five Years

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Marc Emery, Canada's "Prince of Pot," reportedly has reached a plea agreement under which he will serve five years in a Canadian prison for selling marijuana seeds but avoid deportation to the U.S., where he could have been sentenced to 20 years or more. The deal also means that charges against two co-defendants will be dropped. "What is happening here is a travesty of justice," writes Vancouver Sun columnist Ian Mulgrew, noting that Canadian officials have allowed Emery and other seed dealers to openly ply their trade for years, choosing not to prosecute them for this victimless, consensual "crime":

The last time Emery was convicted in Canada of selling pot seeds, back in 1998, he was given a $2,000 fine. Emery has flouted the law for more than a decade and every year he sends his seed catalogue to politicians of every stripe.

He has run in federal, provincial and civic elections promoting his pro-cannabis platform. He has championed legal marijuana at parliamentary hearings, on national television, at celebrity conferences, in his own magazine, Cannabis Culture, and on his own Internet channel, Pot TV.

Health Canada even recommended medical marijuana patients buy their seeds from Emery. From 1998 until his arrest, Emery even paid provincial and federal taxes as a "marijuana seed vendor" totalling nearly $600,000.

Mulgrew says Canadian police who were frustrated by this situation went to the U.S., which brought charges against Emery based on his mail-order sales to Americans. U.S. drug warriors, like the Canadian police, targeted Emery because of his high profile and his political activism. When Emery was arrested back in 2005, DEA head Karen Tandy crowed that the U.S. government had dealt "a significant blow" against "the marijuana legalization movement," bragging that "drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on." 

[Thanks to Robert Drake for the tip.]