Sunday, June 25, 2006

B.C. pot activist says Conservatives, Liberals want him extradited to U.S.

Yahoo! News

Vancouver (CP) - Mark Emery, Canada's so-called Prince of Pot, says the Conservative government wants him extradited to the United States on marijuana charges so he can languish in an American jail for eternity.

"I'm a menace to the establishment," Emery said outside B.C. Supreme Court, where he'll be returning Aug. 21 to set a date for his extradition hearing.

"Both the (previous) Liberal government and the Conservative government are really opposed to ending prohibition and in the 12 years I've been active in British Columbia in this regard we've made tremendous strides towards legalizing marijuana."

Emery credits his efforts for the legalization of medical marijuana and a positive shift in Canadians' attitudes toward pot. He called himself a leader for the pro-pot movement across North America.

Emery, 48, heads the B.C. Marijuana party and publishes Cannabis Culture magazine.

The pot crusader has mostly been fined after being arrested 21 times in Canada. But in 2004, he spent 62 days in a Saskatoon jail for trafficking after passing a joint at a marijuana rally.

Emery is currently charged with selling marijuana seeds to Americans through the mail, conspiracy to manufacture pot and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

He was arrested last July along with Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek and Greg Williams after police raided Emery's pot paraphernalia store in Vancouver following an 18-month investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

Williams will appear in court Aug. 4 for a funding application.

Lawyer Kirk Tousaw, who is representing Rainey-Fenkarek, said Williams's application for legal aid was denied on the basis that he didn't provide adequate information.

The decision was upheld on appeal because Williams's income wasn't low enough, Tousaw said.

The trio's bail conditions, which stipulate they can't associate with each other outside work, were relaxed in court Wednesday so Williams and Rainey-Fenkarek can attend Emery's wedding on July 23.

Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm also allowed Rainey-Fenkarek to attend a three-day Toronto conference that started Wednesday.

Emery said Rainey-Fenkarek would be meeting with former justice minister Irwin Cotler on Thursday.

"Now that he's the justice critic we're going to discuss with him the opportunity to represent us in Parliament on the opposite side of the fence since we hope to impress upon him that what he has originally done is completely wrong," Emery said.

In January, Emery criticized the Liberal government's decision not to proceed with drug charges, clearing the way for his possible extradition to the United States.

That was after the Liberals stayed three conspiracy charges filed against Emery by a private citizen to thwart the United States' efforts to extradite him to that country.

David McCann filed the charges in September 2004, saying it would be hypocritical of Canada to participate in U.S. officials' efforts to prosecute Emery for activities condoned here for years.

At the time, Tousaw said the extradition hearing wouldn't have gone ahead if Emery and his co-accused were prosecuted in Canada.

Emery's fiancee, Jodie Giesz-Ramsey, said she's prepared to marry Emery knowing he may spend years in a U.S. jail.

"It's very scary but I figure being together we might as well get married and enjoy the time we have, however long it is," she said. "And if he goes away, I'll continue to work and do what he does."

Giesz-Ramsey said the two have known each other for years and that she became better acquainted with Emery while she transcribed his blogs from a Saskatoon jail.

Emery said his lawyers have told him he has a 98-per-cent chance of being extradited, adding he's a soldier who's prepared to do battle for others victimized by the American drug war.

"I've never been to the United States so the fact that I'd be taken away to their justice system for delivering seeds in the mail is an absurd infringement of Canadian law and Canadian sovereignty and I think that's the thing that Canadians should focus on - if it can happen to me it can happen to anybody."

Emery also disputed claims that much of the pot seized by police has been laced with crystal meth and other substances.

By Camille Bains


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