FACING A POSSIBLE LIFE SENTENCE IF EXTRADITED TO THE U.S. FOR SELLING POT SEEDS, CANADA'S "PRINCE OF POT" SAYS
HE IS "BLESSED" BY SUCH ATTENTION BECAUSE IT COULD HELP LEGALIZE POT -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
A Canadian who calls himself the "Prince of Pot" could wind up in a U.S. jail for life for selling marijuana seeds, but says he would be "blessed" because such a plight could help legalize the drug. Marc Emery, who had a mail-order pot seed business that Canada ignored and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency wants to prosecute him for, speaks to Bob Simon for a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday, March 5 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
The last place he wants to be is in jail, but Emery says if the Canadian courts allow the U.S. government to extradite him and a U.S. jury puts him away, he still sees a silver lining. "I am blessed by what the DEA has done," he tells Simon. "I would rather see marijuana legalized than me being saved from a U.S. jail. I hope that if I am incarcerated, I can influence tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of young people to take up my cause," says Emery.
The 48-year-old Vancouver resident is a fervent activist for the legalization of marijuana and a hero to the movement. He's made several million dollars and claims to have sold more seeds than anyone in the world on his website and through a magazine he publishes, Cannabis Culture. Selling the seeds is an illegal activity in Canada, but enforcement is rare and punishment light. The drug is legal for medicinal purposes and, overall, Canada has a very laidback attitude toward marijuana. But Emery estimates that the majority of customers he's sold to over the last decade are Americans. Furthermore, British Columbia is a region that produces very pungent pot known as "BC bud" that is smuggled into the U.S., where it's well known. Emery takes pride in the image. "[British Columbia growers] have had a wonderful marketing man in charge of that campaign -- yours truly," boasts Emery.
U.S. officials over the border in Washington have taken notice, however. "We have a huge regional, national and international issue here in the growing of marijuana in lower British Columbia," says John McKay, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington. "[Emery's] activities are kind of a leading edge of that marijuana problem," McKay tells Simon. He says the fact that Canadian officials don't regard him as a threat has no bearing in the U.S., where marijuana seeds are just as illegal as the plant. "He's dealing drugs into the United States and violating laws of the United States and we expect to extradite and try him in the United States," vows McKay.
Asked what he thinks of U.S. officials' stance that Emery is a major drug dealer, Canadian Senator Larry Campbell, a former drug officer, says, "If they consider that, then they have bigger problems than I can even imagine. There's simply no way he's a major anything," says Campbell. There would also be a backlash from Canadians if the U.S. can extradite someone like Emery. "I think there would be outrage," he says.
For McKay, the law is the law. "We have full respect for the laws of Canada�and they respect our laws and he's violated our laws. You know he calls himself the prince of pot but he may become the prince of federal prison," says McKay. If he goes to prison, Emery wants to be known more as leader rather than a martyr. "The language I like to use is one of a person, a leader, who's confident and prepared to accept the punishment that noble purpose will bring about," Emery tells Simon.