US Marijuana Party

Friday, August 05, 2005

Marc Emery Jailhouse Interview

Friday, August 05, 2005
Vancouver Sun

I'll be 'sacrificial lamb' if it gets pot legalized: activist

A jailhouse interview with 'Prince of Pot' Marc Emery

Brad Badelt
Vancouver Sun

Vancouver pot crusader Marc Emery said Thursday he is prepared to spend 20 years in a U.S. prison in order to galvanize the marijuana legalization campaign, claiming it to be his life's work.

"Ultimately, if I have to be the sacrificial lamb then this is a good thing, if it gets people motivated," said Emery, 47, who is being held at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam until his bail is posted.

"It's what I've always wanted to do -- make Canada free," he said.

"Ultimately, I'm fit and ready for battle."

Emery, the leader of B.C.'s Marijuana Party, was arrested July 29 along with two others on U.S. charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds, produce marijuana, and launder money. If extradited and convicted, Emery could be sentenced to between 10 years and life.

The charges stem from an 18-month-long investigation into Emery's marijuana seed distribution business, Marc Emery Direct, which was led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration with assistance from the Vancouver Police Department.

"Their [the VPD's] loyalty is to the police establishment first, and Canadians second," said Emery, who has been running his Hastings Street business since 1994.

"I thought we had carved out our territory in the 300 block of [West] Hastings Street as a safe place for our community."

His business was raided in 1997 by Vancouver police but no charges were laid, Emery said. Only recently did he suspect he might be under investigation.

"I realized [a few] weeks ago, when [a U.S. undercover agent] asked me over my cellphone for 10 pounds of marijuana," he said. "I told her that was a really stupid thing to do."

Shortly after, the undercover agent -- who went by the name Sarah -- visited Emery at his store with the same request.

"I lectured her," Emery said. "I told her that's not what I do.

"At that point, I thought that was a very strange conversation. So I thought perhaps the police were interested . . . but I [couldn't] let that deter me."

A few weeks later Emery, who says he smokes one or two joints a day, was arrested in Halifax.

Despite allegations that he laundered millions of dollars, Emery said he donated nearly all of the profits from his business -- between $3 and $4 million -- to marijuana-related activism.

Among his recent donations was $50,000 given to legalization campaigns in Nevada and Alaska.

"That's why I'm being targeted," he said, describing himself as "quite the irritant" for U.S. authorities.

According to statements made during his bail hearing, Emery pays $3,000 a month for his Vancouver apartment. But Emery said he does not own any assets or property.

"I don't need any possessions," he said. "I'm merely a conduit for possessions -- I'm not meant to handle them."

Emery, a father of four, said he also paid income tax -- about $380,000 over the past five years -- on his earnings from marijuana seed sales.

"The federal government was aware, because I told them," he said. "They said to me, 'You're the only guy that's ever admitted that.' The federal government is more complicit than I am by far."

However, Emery said his sales have declined lately because so many other seed distributors have opened. He estimates there are 50 marijuana seed sellers in Canada alone.

Marc Emery Direct, he says, was part of bigger plan to push the legalization campaign onto the front burner and "overgrow the government."

Emery, who has run for political office 10 times, including for Parliament in 1980, said he is looking forward to preparing his defence.

"The U.S. are engaged in a barbaric war," he said. "Canada needs someone to galvanize them, and I'm happy to be that conduit."

According to his lawyer, John Conroy, Emery is expected to be released Friday on bail of $50,000. The two others arrested July 29, Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, 34, and Gregory Williams, 50, face the same charges. The next court date for all three is scheduled for Aug. 25.



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