America targets Emery
A London friend says U.S. authorities want to make an example of the pot activist.
Sharon Ho, Free Press Reporter 2005-07-31 02:35:23
The arrest of Canadian pot activist Marc Emery is being used to advance the agenda of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, a London friend charges.
"Someone needed to made an example of (him) to further the agenda of the American drug enforcement agency," said Teresa Tarasewicz, co-owner of the City Lights Book Shop.
"He's a pawn in the politics of drug enforcement between the two different countries," she said. "It'll be interesting to see whether Canada holds fast or hands him over."
Tarasewicz bought the bookstore from Emery, a former Londoner, in 1992. She last spoke to him about a month ago.
Emery was arrested Friday by RCMP in central Nova Scotia after Vancouver police raided his pot seed and paraphernalia store and arrested two others, Gregory Keith Williams and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek.
They are wanted in the U.S. on charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute seeds and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
A conviction on the charges carries a sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison.
Emery, leader of the B.C. Marijuana Party, was in a Halifax-area jail yesterday waiting to be returned to Vancouver, while U.S. authorities try to extradite him.
The U.S. Attorney's Office has said the three were indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury in May after an 18-month U.S. police probe of the sale of marijuana seeds on the Internet and by mail.
Emery moved away from London in 1992, but was well-known in this city for his various campaigns. As owner of City Lights, he wanted the downtown business improvement area organization dismantled and fought its right to levy a charge on his store.
The high school dropout founded the Freedom Party with Robert Metz, its current president. The two later started two-short lived newspapers -- the London MetroBulletin and the London Tribune.
"If you want to change the law, you have to be prepared to break the law," Metz once said in describing Emery's philosophy in life.
Emery became known for his pot activism in 1994 after moving to Vancouver from Indonesia.
In Vancouver, he started the Cannabis Cafe, a meeting place for marijuana smokers, Hemp BC, a supply store, and Little Grow Shop, a seed and plant outlet. These places were raided a few times and eventually closed.
For the last 10 years, Emery has been selling marijuana seeds on the Internet. He's made more than $2 million from the business.
"He's receiving attention because he's successful at it," Tarasewicz said.
"Whatever happens, he's not going to go quietly. He'll raise awareness (of the marijuana legalization issue). The business wouldn't be profitable without the support of regular folks."
Emery has been convicted in the past of trafficking in marijuana seeds.
He spent three months in jail last year for passing a joint at a Saskatoon pot rally in 2004. It was Emery's 11th drug-related conviction, but the first time he was sentenced to jail.
Yesterday, City Lights customers were asking for Tarasewicz's reaction to Emery's situation. Londoners tend to think of him as someone regularly "raising controversy and trouble," she said.