Why I’m Cutting A Deal
by Marc Emery – Thursday, June 11 2009
In the end, my lawyer, a wily and shrewd man named Ian Donaldson, said he just wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t be the lawyer of record at any Extradition hearing for Marc Emery.
It wasn’t about money – Ian has charged me next to nothing over 4 years, less than $20,000 – and it wasn’t for lack of caring either. He said there just isn’t any way to beat the Extradition. As he told the CBC, “I am unaware of any situation since the 1990’s when the Canadian government has refused an Extradition Request of the United States.”
Ian had always hoped that the assistant US District Attorney of Western Washington state, a young, handsome and politically ambitious man named Todd Greenburg, would offer a plea deal that would be the best outcome under the circumstances. Earlier this year, my two co-accused, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey, agreed to plead guilty to a charge of distributing marijuana and are expecting to receive a sentence of two years probation. This is considerably less than what had been anticipated earlier, when jail terms of 5 or 10 years or longer were threatened.
As late as last April, I was agreeing to be sentenced to 5 years, at first in a US jail, and then with most time to be served in Canada. The US District Attorney and I had a deal, but the Canadian Prosecutorial Service, at the request of Rob Nicholson, the Canadian Justice Minister, nixed it last May. The explanation was that the Conservative government wanted to do me no favours.
I have always thought the Conservative government, since taking power in January 2006, has been politicizing the judiciary and law enforcement to take a more severe and punitive approach to the marijuana culture. They see it as a culture war, and Bill C-15 passing the House of Commons a few days ago is the most blatant salvo in the Conservative War on the Cities and the Sixties at the same time.
The Cities are where the gang violence that stems from drug prohibition happens. The Cities are where policing budgets are escalating and unsustainable. They are where the addicts go to get prohibited drugs from gangs, and they’re where they steal and beg to finance their addiction. They are where the women prostitute themselves for drugs. The Cities bear the scars of social disorder caused by drug prohibition. Bill C-15 is going to make every person – every teenager and young adult – who sells some pot or MDMA to a few friends in a school yard or near a playground, or at a rave (“any place frequented by young people”), subject to mandatory jail times of 6 months, a year, two years or longer. Repeat offenders are dealt with even more harshly.
Mid- and high-level drug dealers already get 6 months or more when convicted, so the new minimums do not affect the bosses who make the large-scale decisions and big money. Instead, this bill targets kids, junkies, weed dealers and small time growers with shell-shocking punishments on an unprecedented scale. It costs about $50,000 to $90,000 a year to house an inmate in Canada, depending on whether it’s a provincial jail or federal prison. How will we afford this and will it be worth it?
Organized gangs dominate prisons in Canada and the US with a full gang apparatus inside the jail as well as outside in the community. In order to use phones, get jobs, privileges, avoid trouble, not get beat up or raped, new, young (“virgin”) inmates convicted of drug charges will be pressured to join a gang in jail. Jails are the #1 recruitment place for all gangs in Canada. In fact, the deadly and volatile Red Scorpions gang, allegedly responsible for considerable gang mayhem in Metro Vancouver, formed in the jails of the lower mainland of BC.
The more we enforce the drug war with jail time for young dealers, the more violence we manufacture. The more we enforce the drug war and send kids to jail, the more we enrich gangs and gang activity. When a young person recruited to a gang in prison gets after 6 months, a year or two years, he will then be expected to continue gang activities on the outside. The more we enforce the drug war with jail, the more gangsters and dangerous criminals we manufacture. Or rather, the politicians and police manufacture, as they are virtually the exclusive beneficiaries of the drug war – along with judges, jailers and top-level gangsters. In 2008, over 350 Vancouver police earned over $100,000 in overtime spent enforcing the drug war.
So while I contemplate spending time in a US federal prison for spreading cannabis culture to the masses of the United States, I now know that my own country may be about to descend upon the same painful and wrong-headed policy that is drawing me to a US prison, a rapacious incarceration scheme that makes the US the most jailed place on earth.
Now Canada is prepared to make every single marijuana grower in Canada subject to a minimum six months jail, eviction and forfeiture, and loss of children and employment. Cocaine and heroin users who sell illicit drugs to pay for their own use and those who carry and transport will to jail. Under pressure, they will implicate others. This will fill prisons and also insure long, expensive court trials, as the accused will no longer plead guilty if jail is mandatory. The price of marijuana and other illicit substances will go up sharply due to the tremendous rise in risk, and there will be violent turf wars over replacing those who are arrested and jailed, as the money involved becomes even more lucrative.
The problems will all worsen – and then next year the police, and the politicians of the Liberal and Conservative Parties will demand more prisoners, more punishments, more laws, more police, and more taxpayer largesse to pay for what is clearly cruel, unsustainable, and morally unjustifiable. Drug users are not the problem, prohibition is.
As for me, I’m going to plead guilty in a Seattle courtroom sometime in August to one count of distributing marijuana. I will likely be sentenced in September or October.
I am doing this because my lawyer framed my options thusly: To challenge the extradition would be a lost cause and result in my extradition to Seattle to stand trial on three counts: conspiracy to manufacture, conspiracy to distribute, and conspiracy to money launder. Even waiting for my trial in Sea-Tac jail would take approximately 6 months to a year. Sentencing on the money laundering involves a mandatory minimum 10 years in federal prison. It also comes with the possibility of a substantial financial penalty, perhaps as high as $250,000 or up to $1 million in fines. If there is a financial penalty attached to my conviction, I cannot be transferred to a Canadian prison while any amount owing is outstanding. To challenge all three charges involves a potential jail time of 10 years plus 5 years plus 5 years plus $250,000 or more in fines.
On the charge of marijuana distribution I will plead to, the Assistant DA, Mr. Greenburg, is going to be asking for 5 – 8 years. My lawyers will ask for less, much less, in punishment, but it’s likely to be a stint in a US federal prison.
I would have some very good arguments in my favor at a sentencing hearing: I did all my activities openly, transparently, paid taxes on earnings in full view of all Canadians for ten years. I had clear political motives, gave away over $4,000,000 to the movement in that ten years, and there are no victims here.
Upon my conviction, my wife Jodie will organize a campaign to have me transferred back to a Canadian jail – if transferred my sentence would reflect Canadian rules of release, so a 5-year sentence may see me released after a few years to day parole.
During my incarceration, I expect all my friends and supporters across Canada and the US and around the world to assist Jodie in the difficult task of running CannabisCulture.com and the Cannabis Culture Headquarters. The store, website, The BCMP offices, Pot.TV will all continue in my absence. Your financial support of our enterprises that have had such a huge impact on the cannabis culture around the world for the last 20 years will be required. Updates and further developments will be found on POT.TV and CannabisCulture.com.
In anticipation of these changes, Jodie and I are embarking on a tour of Canada beginning July 5 in Calgary, and will cover all major cities in Canada by mid August. If you want me to visit your hometown to speak, we require $500 so we can book airfare and a hotel room. Once that is done, we will indicate that city and venue are confirmed.
Once we are confirmed, my host would need to find a venue for us to speak. I would prefer to speak outdoors in a park or pavilion during the day, and in a library or hall in the evenings (no pubs or bars). I need a microphone for more than 50 people. My speech is typically 2 – 3 hours plus questions.
For details about the Farewell Tour, please go here:
Contact Marc Emery at
604.689.0590 or 604.685.8260 or Jodie’s cell phone at 604.818.4201