Tuesday, August 02, 2005

global demonstrations planned as owner of Cannabis Culture magazine sits in Canadian jail facing extradition to USA

In a move that could bring them nothing but trouble, the American government has forced the Canadian government to arrest Mark Emery, founder of Cannabis Culture magazine, and are trying to extradite him to one of their concentration camps, along with two other Canadians, for selling marijuana seeds to Americans.

The extradition process could take anywhere from six months to two years. A court hearing regarding bail is due in Vancouver on Tuesday starting 10am. According to Cannabis Culture's website the Canadian authorities are trying to block bail for Mark which is very unusual for a non-violent offender. One of the others is now out on $25,000 bail which is unusually high.

The legal reasons for refusing an extradition order in Canada are:

(a) the surrender would be unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances; YES!

(b) the request for extradition is made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing the person by reason of their race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, language, colour, political opinion, sex, sexual orientation, age, mental or physical disability or status or that the person's position may be prejudiced for any of those reasons. YES!

c) allowing it to go ahead would "shock the conscience" of Canadians. YES!

According to Neil Boyd, professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., "What's unusual about this case is that they are arresting a person for conduct that attracts very serious penalties in one country and potentially no penalties in Canada," Boyd said.

All three defendants were charged with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. The distribution charges alone carry potential punishments of 10 years to life imprisonment.

Emery and two accomplices, Gregory Williams, 50, and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, 34, were arrested by Canadian authorities on a warrant issued by federal officials in Washington state. The Seattle-based office of the Drug Enforcement Administration led the investigation which started 18 months ago.

According to the Seattle Times, Mark Emery, known in Canada as the "Prince of Pot", was arrested on a U.S. indictment charging him with selling millions of dollars worth of marijuana seeds to customers throughout the United States. They are saying that at least 75 percent of his seed transactions involved U.S. customers.

Vancouver Police Department spokesman Howard Chow, is quoted saying the authorities likely thought there was a better chance of conviction and harsher punishment in the U.S.

In Canada being busted for selling pot seeds is a minor issue usually involving a fine of which Mark Emery has had many, although according to his Web site, he was most recently sentenced to 92 days in jail for trafficking and possession. In Britain marijuana seeds are legal as long as you do not mix them with water, earth and light in such a way that they grow.

There has already been a spontaneous demo in an area of Vancouver known as 'Vansterdam' of about 100 people, but this could just be the beginning unless the Canadian authorities do the sensible thing and refuse to extradite the three Canadians to a country Amnesty International has said runs inhuman prison facilities.

Meanwhile the story is going international, and could turn into a public relations disaster for the American government and their so called 'War on Drugs'. Something like the McLibel case maybe, or hopefully worse.

Mark Emery is known all over the world for publishing his excellent 'Cannabis Culture' magazine and supporting campaigns all over the world to end cannabis prohibition. On several occasions he helped the Cannabis March and Festival in London. This move against him is politically motivated, aimed particularly at closing down Cannabis Culture magazine and ending the work of one of the most important campaigners against cannabis prohibition in the world.

Canada could also suffer from an international backlash ending their image as a relative oasis of freedom next to its totalitarian neighbor. But if Canada now holds up to their sovereign rights against the power of the United States, they will be international heros. It is their choice, although the pressure from the US will be massive.

Tommy Chong, one-half of the stoner comedic partnership of Cheech and Chong was shocked when told of Emery's trouble with the DEA as he used to live in Vancouver. "They're going to extradite him down to the [U.S.] for something that's not really a crime in Canada. If Canada goes for that, they really suck."

International phone lines have been buzzing as cannabis campaigners plan a global protest action for September 10th, if Emery and his two colleagues are not released. An international media campaign with demos targeting US embassies worldwide is being discussed.

Amnesty International is being asked to take on the case, making the three, 'prisoners of conscience'.

It is arguable that US policy towards cannabis users is genocidal because one of the internationally accepted definitions of genocide is any attempt to "obliterate the way of life' of someone.

Over 750,000 people a year are arrested just for marijuana possession in the USA, and if you get caught with over 60,000 marijuana plants you can get the death penalty.


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