May 20, 2010 in Region

B.C.’s ‘Prince of Pot’ to plead guilty in Seattle

Associated Press
Jonathan Hayward photo

Marc Emery gets a hug from a supporter outside the Supreme Court in Vancouver, British Columbia, on May 10, 2010, before turning himself in to be extradited to the United States.
(Full-size photo)

SEATTLE — After a yearslong battle to avoid extradition, Canada’s so-called Prince of Pot was brought Thursday to Seattle, where he is expected to plead guilty to a charge that he sold millions of marijuana seeds to U.S. customers.

Marc Emery, wearing a V-neck sweater over a collared shirt, appeared in U.S. District Court and agreed to remain in custody pending his plea hearing on Monday. Canada’s justice minister signed off on Emery’s extradition to the United States on May 10.

Emery, 52, of Vancouver, British Columbia, claimed to have made $3 million a year before his arrest in 2005, when a grand jury in Seattle indicted him on marijuana conspiracy and money laundering charges. He operated his mail-order business for about a decade.

His attorney, Richard Troberman, said Emery will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana in exchange for an agreed sentence of five years in prison.

To drug officials, Emery was a pariah whose pot seeds were used in illegal marijuana grows across the United States. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said his seeds have been traced to grow operations in Indiana, Florida, California, Tennessee, Montana, Virginia, Michigan, New Jersey and North Dakota.

He is well loved among pot activists, in part for his crusading for marijuana law reform, and in part for the way he cheekily thumbed his nose at authorities. When a police constable investigating him in the mid-1990s noted at a news conference that the seeds he sold grew well, Emery appropriated the statement as a product endorsement.

After his arrest, Emery’s supporters accused the U.S. of launching a politically motivated prosecution to silence a prominent drug-war opponent. They said they were stunned when Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson agreed to extradite Emery.

Emery’s wife, Jodie Emery, led a protest march through downtown Vancouver with about 60 people who waved marijuana-leaf flags and shouted, “Free Marc Emery!”

Emery’s Canadian lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, said he planned to ask U.S. authorities to let his client serve his time in a Canadian jail under treaty agreements.

“It’s a dark day for Canada,” he said. “Now the fight begins to bring him home.”

Two employees of Emery’s cannabis shop, Emery Seeds, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle last year to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana. They admitted to helping take and fill seed orders and were sentenced to probation.

A handful of protesters stood gathered outside the Seattle courthouse and noted the irony of seeing Emery prosecuted in a city with a permissive attitude about marijuana.

“Seattle does not necessarily support this action,” said Vivian McPeak, director of the city’s annual HempFest. “They’re bringing this to our hometown. It’s shameful.”

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