Monday, June 04, 2007
Help Marc Emery!
I met Marc Emery at least twenty years ago, when he was still living in London, Ontario and operating the City Lights book store. We had the libertarian political philosophy in common, and I admired his drive and energy. I was also amused by his frenetic style, something quite unlike my own staid demeanour. Around that time, or perhaps a bit later, Marc became involved with the marijuana movement and quickly became a spokesman and activist for anything marijuana.
I lost track of Marc when he moved away from London. He escalated his activism and eventually set up shop in Vancouver and sold mail order marijuana seeds via the Internet. On July 29, 2005, Marc was arrested while on holiday in Halifax. Although Mark had suffered several Canadian arrests and even served a brief jail sentence or two, Canadian authorities had never paid all that much attention to him and his activities, certainly not recently. He appears to have been arrested mostly at the behest of the American DEA. There was to have been an extradition hearing this past May, but that has now been postponed until November of 2007, I believe.
If Marc Emery is extradited to the United States, he is basically screwed. And if Canadian authorities cave in to American pressure and allow his extradition, it pretty much tells us that we, as Canadians are screwed too. Will the notion of Canadian sovereignty then become even more of a joke? Emery sold marijuana seeds to people who wanted them, something that falls well within the libertarian definition of a 'victimless crime.' He hasn't hurt anyone. He hasn't swindled anyone. Most of the money he earned from the seed sales was channeled to various marijuana activists and groups. The fact that anyone is paying any attention at all to Marc and others like him is testimony to the fact that our priorities, and specifically the war on drugs in the United States, is seriously out of touch with reality. This sort of nonsense has to stop.
I want to be clear here: I personally don't use marijuana or any other street drug. I rarely even have an alcoholic drink. I think that people who use any sort of mind altering drug should instead stay lucid and enjoy and appreciate the beauty (mostly) of the world around them. But, and this distinction is critical, it is none of my business if someone else smokes dope. None. Nor is it any business of anyone else, and most particularly not of the United States government or its agencies. Driving drugs underground has had the deplorable result of turning millions of U.S. citizens into criminals. I have seen it reported that although the United States has only 5% of the world's population, it has 25% of its prisoners. If that statistic is true, it is truly scary.
I don't want to live Marc Emery's lifestyle. But I don't think that he should suffer a minimum sentence of ten years in a U.S. prison, or even as much as life imprisonment without parole. We cannot depend on the United States government or the DEA to behave rationally. The only way to save Marc is if the Canadian authorities develop a backbone and disallow extradition.
What can we do? Read this. Or this. Send his lawyer some money. Tell others. And tell politicians everywhere to concentrate on arresting real criminals and leave people like Marc alone.