Next week, Canadian political activist, publisher and businessman Marc Emery - known by many as the "Prince of Pot" -- will be extradited to the United States, where he will likely be sentenced to five years in federal prison. His crime? Selling marijuana seeds.
That's right. The U.S. government will be extraditing a Canadian citizen to our country, trying him in our federal courts, and holding him in one of our federal prisons for five years, all because he sold some seeds... that could have been grown into plants... that could have produced marijuana - an objectively safer substance than alcohol.
Never mind the fact that Emery operated his seed business entirely in Canada with no American branches or employees... or that he conducted business openly in Canada without ever facing charges of manufacturing or distributing marijuana (as did/do many other seed distribution companies -- some even on the same block as Emery's business - without any interference from Canadian or U.S. authorities)... or that Canada's public health agency recommended that its medical marijuana program rely on seeds from companies such as Emery's... or that local and federal tax agencies in Canada accepted more than $500,000 in income taxes from Emery, who listed his occupation as "marijuana seed vendor."
None of that matters to the U.S. Justice Dept., which somehow considered Emery one of the 46 "most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets," despite the fact that his entire career of seed-selling resulted in less harm done to people and to society than a case of Labatt Blue or a bottle of Canadian whiskey.
So now Marc Emery will be hauled across the border to spend five years in an American prison. All the absurdity aside, that's not such a bad deal for someone considered to be one of the most wanted international drug traffickers in the entire world.
This Saturday, rallies will be held in all 50 states, across Canada, and around the world, calling for Emery's release and a more rational approach to marijuana (and marijuana seeds...). Along with my fellow coauthors, I will be sending a copy of our book, Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?, to the judge who will soon be sentencing Emery. If you are as outraged by this case as we are, I encourage you to contact him as well.
Honorable Judge Ricardo S. Martinez
700 Stewart Street, Suite 13134
Seattle, WA 98101-9906
Dear Judge Martinez:
We are writing to implore you to read a copy of our book, Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?, prior to the upcoming sentencing of Marc Emery. As you know, Mr. Emery is being prosecuted by the federal government for selling marijuana seeds to Americans.
We can only assume you believe criminal sanctions should be proportional to the harm caused by the person being sentenced, and by that measure, Mr. Emery should receive the barest minimum sentence. In fact, the most appropriate sentence would involve no time in prison at all, seeing as the use of marijuana is not associated with any significant negative health effects and does not contribute to any significant social problems, such as violence and crime. Indeed, you would be hard-pressed to discover any harm caused to the individuals who purchased seeds from Mr. Emery or consumed the marijuana they produced.
Further, as we describe in great detail in the book, marijuana is far less harmful than the one other widely popular recreational substance in this country -- alcohol. According to all objective scientific research, alcohol is far more addictive, far more toxic, far more likely to cause serious health problems and far more likely to produce violent behavior. Yet, under the law, Americans are steered toward alcohol and the harms associated with its use. What Mr. Emery was doing was helping adults who want to grow their own marijuana so that they could make the rational, safer choice to use a less harmful recreational alternative.
Canadian citizens engage in the act of selling a very dangerous drug - alcohol - to Americans every day, and many Americans are in the business of importing alcohol from Canada into the United States. Yet these people are not punished. Regardless of the current state of the law, Mr. Emery does not deserve to be punished for selling Americans a far less harmful substance. After all, he was doing these people a service and helping them live safer, healthier lives.
Before you sentence Mr. Emery, please consider the information contained in our book. And, please, do not allow the punishment in this case to exceed the harm caused by the man accused.
The Authors of Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?