EYE WEEKLY caught up with “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery to discuss the latest on his case and his views on the changing climate of the cannabis world.
Emery will again be speaking at this year’s Toronto Freedom Festival (May 1, 6:30pm, Speakers & Awareness Stage, Queen’s Park North) and his presence is as significant as ever since there have been some shifts happening in government policy for our neighbours to the south — many wonder how close Canada is to following suit.
What’s the latest with your trial?
The US DEA encouraged the justice department to lay three charges against me: conspiracy to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to manufacture marijuana and conspiracy to money launder. They say, “We’re looking for 40 years on these three counts,” because they come with mandatory minimums in the US, “[but] we can offer you one count if you agree to plead guilty to five years.” I agreed. The justice minister has had all the paperwork since January 8th and has not signed it. The Canadian justice department says they’ve received 2,700 handwritten letters urging them not to extradite me, and seven saying they should. It’s something for the minister, Rob Nicholson, to think about with an election coming up. The minister has to make a decision by May 10th to extradite, not extradite or seek an extension.
What about your colleagues Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams?
Originally the agreement was that I would plead guilty to five-year thing and they would not get any kind of jail time, and that’s how it worked out. Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams basically got sentenced to two years probation and are back doing the thing they like to do best. Michelle is growing marijuana for her medical needs and Greg works at the BC Marijuana Party, so I feel good that nobody who was involved with me is going to suffer any jail time.
What do you think the major difference between Canadian and American drug policy is? Which do you feel is more misguided?
Up until now Canada’s never had mandatory minimums and the judges are aware that when you give someone a high sentence, there’s invariably a turf war between gang members over their spot. The Americans have put more people in jail, but they haven’t solved the problem because more people compete to get into that business once someone’s arrested. But, there’s a movement in every state to have a medical marijuana law or an outright legalization law. California’s the most significant because their legislation has proposed it as a November ballot initiative coming up this year. In the United States you’ve got 75 congressmen that have signed on to a bill that will legalize four ounces or less. That’s not happening at any level in Canada.
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