Marc Emery: his former prosecutor saying anti-cannabis laws are "dangerous and wrong."


Prince of Pot's prosecutor declares prohibition a bust

Law professor declares that U.S. marijuana laws endanger the public -- a week before Marc Emery is sentenced

By Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun

Canada's prince of pot, Marc Emery, spent Labour Day in a U.S. prison reading a newspaper column by his former prosecutor saying anti-cannabis laws are "dangerous and wrong."

In an insult to injury that should cause Ottawa to blush, the man who hounded Emery to face American drug and money-laundering charges declares the pot prohibition should be ended.

John McKay, now a Seattle University law professor, argued in the weekend article that the war against marijuana has failed, actually threatens public safety and rests on false medical assumptions.

"I DON'T smoke pot," Seattle's former U.S. attorney insisted. "And I pretty much think people who do are idiots."

But McKay added: "As Emery's prosecutor and a former federal law-enforcement official, however, I'm not afraid to say out loud what most of my former colleagues know is true: Our marijuana policy is dangerous and wrong and should be changed through the legislative process to better protect the public safety."

The DEA insisted in 2005 Emery was one of the world's "most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets." Today McKay admits "our 1930s-era marijuana prohibition was overkill from the beginning."

What a travesty of justice!

"The hypocrisy of him being my prosecutor and still supporting my sentencing (he doesn't condemn it) while admitting that the law is wrong and counterproductive is unsaid -but it needs to be," Emery complained in an e-mail from jail where he is awaiting sentencing.

"I am victimized by the law for hurting no one."

From the moment of Emery's 2005 arrest, I have said his extradition was wrong.

He openly sold seeds in Vancouver for more than a decade and no one was willing to enforce our law -- the underhand tactic by Vancouver cops to outsource justice to the Americans was offensive.

In response to the outcry following Emery's arrest, police did lay a couple of other charges.

A 36-year-old Courtenay man was given a month in jail for the identical offence. In March 2008, the Court of Appeal said that was an appropriate punishment for selling seeds.

In Montreal, Richard Baghdadlian of Overgrow. com and Heaven's Stairway, was also busted shortly after Emery and given a conditional sentence of two years less a day -- that is, no jail time.

Hundreds of Canadian seed companies still sell into the U.S. market.

Emery, of course, was targeted by the DEA because he was out to end the cannabis prohibition.

The Americans said Emery earned $5 million from his illicit catalogue business and channelled hundreds of thousands to pro-marijuana groups.

"Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on," the DEA punned in its press release. How funny.

"If changing U.S. marijuana policy was ever Emery's goal, the best that can be said is that he took the wrong path," was McKay's attempt to put him down.

Wrong: It looks to me like Emery lost the battle and won the war.

In November, California will vote on a new legal tax-and-regulate proposition. Similar initiatives are planned for Oregon and Washington in 2011, and Colorado in 2012. More than a dozen states with medical marijuana programs are following California's path.

Too bad Emery's paying a far too hefty price for his prescience -- having promoted a more sensible public policy and a more truthful debate around cannabis -- while the intellectually dishonest gloat that, well, okay, they are wrong and the law's an ass, but Emery still should be punished.

I remain ashamed that Canada handed him over to the U.S. rather than react to their concerns by prosecuting him.

On Friday Emery is to be sentenced to five years in a U.S. penitentiary under a plea bargain. Five years! In Canada you can kill someone and not do that kind of time.

"My incarceration costs taxpayers money they don't have to perpetuate a policy that doesn't work in a state where the majority say they want marijuana legal," Emery said. "So who are the idiots?"


"I do have regrets," he confided. "I regret that my methods of selling seeds to Americans put me in jail and took me away from my wife. I miss her dearly and think of her every day. I cry over it frequently in my cell or when I speak to Jodie on the phone. But then I have to consider what became of the $4 million I gave away to American and Canadian activists and lobby groups."

Emery can hold his head up; it's a shame those who prosecuted him can't do the same.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

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