September 15, 2010

Marc Emery, Prince of Pot - CNN on Marijuana

Canada's 'prince of pot' gets five years in U.S. prison

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

"It's nice to see mainstream coverage of important pot related cultural events. Marc Emery is a martyr, imprisoned as the battle for the end of prohibition is nearing it's height." - Baked Life

The man once known as Canada's "prince of pot" is now a federal inmate in the U.S. system after a judge in Washington sentenced him Friday to five years in prison.

Marijuana activist Marc Emery pleaded guilty in May in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington, to a single count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana after an 18-month investigation into the seed-selling business Emery operated from his head shop in Vancouver, British Columbia.

By imposing the five-year sentence, which includes four years of supervised probation, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez honored a plea deal that Emery, 52, entered into with U.S. authorities to avoid a lengthier sentence.

"There is no question your actions were illegal and criminal and your actions ensured that others broke the law and suffered the consequences," the judge told Emery during the hearing.

Dozens of Emery's supporters gathered outside Seattle's federal courthouse to protest the sentence, which marks the end of a five-year legal battle against a man once described by U.S. authorities as one of its most wanted international drug trafficking targets -- and the only one from Canada.

Emery is the founder of the British Columbia Marijuana Party and the website His status in Canada as a tireless advocate for marijuana legalization has been cemented through years of sit-ins, demonstrations and runs for political office. By his own account, he has been arrested at least a dozen times since 1995 related to his activism, and Vancouver police have raided his shop several times since it opened in 1994.

In his plea agreement, Emery admitted to operating a marijuana seed selling business with two co-defendants, who entered pleas this year to lesser offenses and were placed on probation in Canada. He also admitted to selling seeds to customers in the United States through mail and telephone orders and in his Vancouver retail store.

"Marc Emery decided that U.S. laws did not apply to him, but he was wrong," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan in a statement Friday. "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."

But Emery and his supporters worldwide have maintained from the start that his prosecution was politically motivated, citing a 2005 DEA press release touting his arrest as a "significant blow" to the marijuana legalization movement.

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