“Prince of Pot” Sentenced to Five Years In U.S. Prison

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A Canadian marijuana activist, once known as the “prince of pot,” is now incarcerated in Washington State’s Federal Detention Center, SeaTac, serving a five-year term as part of a plea deal.

Marc Emery, 52, entered a guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana in May, 2010. In July 2005, after an 18-month investigation, Emery and his two co-defendants, Gregory Keith Williams, 50, and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, 34, both of Vancouver, were charged by American authorities with conspiracy to distribute marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds and conspiracy to engage in money laundering. These charges carried a minimum 10-year sentence and the possibility of life imprisonment, and so in 2009, Emery agreed to a plea bargain in which he admitted that he had operated a business selling marijuana seeds over the Internet and in his retail store, and agreed to serve five years.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez sentenced Emery—who was at one time among the U.S.’s most wanted international drug trafficking targets, and the only one from Canada—to a term of five years in prison minus time served.

The activist’s supporters have decried his prosecution and sentence, however, saying that they are politically motivated, because Emery donated most of his profits to marijuana legalization efforts in both the U.S. and Canada. They cite a 2005 press release issued by the Drug Enforcement Agency that called Emery’s arrest a “significant blow” to the movement to legalize marijuana.

Emery is the founder of several political parties, the Freedom Party of Ontario, the Marijuana Part of Canada and the British Columbia Marijuana Party, and has run for several public offices, including mayor of Vancouver, in 1996, 2002 and 2008. He founded a publication called Cannabis Culture Magazine and a video channel called Pot-TV. He has been the subject of several documentary films, and has made cameo appearances in many more.

Since 1995, Emery has been arrested at least a dozen times on charges related to his marijuana activism, not counting the raids on his Vancouver head shop, Hemp BC.

Williams and Rainey-Fenkarek pleaded guilty earlier this year to lesser offenses and were placed on probation in Canada.

Protestors gathered outside Seattle’s federal courthouse during and after the sentencing, and rallies to support Emery and the legalization movement are planned for September 18 in over 70 cities across the globe.

In a letter to the court, Emery admitted some culpability, while still holding fast to his ideals.

“It was my sincere belief that the prohibitions on cannabis are hurtful to U.S. and Canadian citizens and are contrary to the U.S. and Canadian constitutions. I was, however, overzealous and reckless in pursuing this belief, and acted arrogantly in violation of U.S. federal law. I regret not choosing other methods—legal ones—to achieve my goals of peaceful political reform.”

 

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