Canadian pot activist Marc Emery sentenced to five years in US prison
By Stephen C. Webster
Marc Emery, Canada's enigmatic "Prince of Pot" who sold millions of marijuana seeds over the Internet, will face a five year punishment in the United States after a U.S. district judge in Seattle handed down his sentence on Friday.
Emery, founder and publisher of Cannabis Culture magazine, is a longtime and highly vocal Canadian marijuana activist. His wife Jodie maintains that U.S. authorities targeted his operation over other Canadian seed-sellers because of all the funding he's provided to the legal movement to regulate cannabis in the U.S.
Emery's sentence, issued by U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez, includes four years of supervised probation. He was convicted on a single charge of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana.
U.S. authorities had described him as one of the country's "most wanted drug trafficking targets," according to CNN. The investigation, now concluded with Emery's trial and sentencing, was ongoing for over five years. Though indicted in 2005, Emery was not handed over to U.S. authorities until May 10 of this year. He pleaded guilty 14 days later.
In a press release lauding the government's efforts, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) declared a significant victory in the battle against marijuana legalization efforts.
"Hundreds of thousands of dollars from Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada," read a statement from DEA administrator Karen P. Tandy. "Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on."
Emery's prosecutors vehemently denied that politics played any role in the trial.
"Marc Emery decided that U.S. laws did not apply to him, but he was wrong," U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan said Friday, according to CNN. "Emery put his personal profits above the law. He made millions of dollars by shipping millions of seeds into the U.S. He sold to anyone who would pay him -- with no regard for the age or criminal activities of his customers. Now, Emery is paying the price for being part of the illegal drug trade that damages lives, homes and the environment."
Emery was facing more than 30 years in a U.S. prison before he cut a deal with U.S. authorities in Sept. 2009, agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for the five-year sentence.
"Upon my conviction, my wife Jodie will organize a campaign to have me transferred back to a Canadian jail - if transferred my sentence would reflect Canadian rules of release, so a 5-year sentence may see me released after a few years to day parole," he wrote, explaining the agreement to a guilty plea.
In a letter to the court, Emery said his seed-selling business, though a form of "civil disobedience," was "arrogant" and wrong.
"I regret not choosing other methods -- legal ones -- to achieve my goals of peaceful political reform," he wrote. "In my zeal, I had believed that my actions were wholesome, but my behavior was in fact illegal and set a bad example for others."
"The judge said he had received hundreds of letters -- including one in crayon -- supporting Emery," The Seattle Times noted.
Emery was to be transferred to a federal prison in El Reno, Oklahoma following his sentencing, Cannabis Culture said. His wife and supporters said they planned to protest his imprisonment during a series of Sept. 18 rallies.
This video is from KIOR 7 in Seattle, broadcast Friday, Sept. 10, 2010.
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