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Emery Granted Bail


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Not sure if this should go in the 'News' Forum but here it is.

Pot activist granted bail in U.S. extradition case


VANCOUVER — Canadian justice officials can't turn pot activist Marc Emery over to the United States to face possible life in prison after ignoring his sale of marijuana seeds in this country for nearly a decade, his lawyer said today.

"For nine years he's been doing this quite openly," John Conroy told a news conference after Emery was granted bail. "They've known about it, the local authorities haven't done anything about it."

Emery is accused of selling seeds out of his bookstore in downtown Vancouver and over the Internet. He also runs Cannabis Culture magazine and is the leader of the British Columbia Marijuana Party.

Conroy said Emery has long had tacit permission from Canadian authorities to sell seeds, adding that even Health Canada has directed people who are allowed to possess pot for medical conditions to the Internet to buy seeds.

"Many of those people contacted Marc Emery through his website," said Conroy, who is well-known for defending people facing marijuana-related charges.

"Here we have a situation where they turn a blind eye locally and now they're in a position of assisting the U.S. to try to have him extradited to the U.S. where the penalties are substantially greater than here."

Bail was set at $50,000 for Emery, who faces a sentence of 10 years to life in prison if convicted in the U.S.

The pot paraphernalia store that Emery runs was raided on Friday by Vancouver police after a warrant was issued at the request of U.S. justice officials.

In granting Emery bail, Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm of B.C. Supreme Court said he can continue his political work for the Marijuana party, which is fighting for the legalization of pot. He will also be allowed to work at his bookstore and at Cannabis Culture magazine.

Emery's co-accused, Greg Williams and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek, were also granted bail. They face charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

The U.S. wants the trio extradited after they were indicted by a federal grand jury in May following an 18-month investigation by American police into the sale of marijuana seeds on the Internet and by mail.

Emery's wife Cheryl sat in the front row of the court during Emery's appearance. He blew kisses and winked at her reassuringly.

Supporters, who regularly come together in festive rallies to support Emery's political and legal causes, packed the gallery seats around his wife. Some were in tears, but they laughed at a lawyer for the U.S. when she read out the accusations against Emery.

Kirk Tousaw, the Marijuana party's campaign manager, said Emery is being targeted for his beliefs.

"Virtually all the money from the seed sales went into political activism in Canada and the U.S. That's exactly what drew the ire of the Drug Enforcement Administration," Tousaw said after the hearing.

"There are many seed sellers in the U.S. and Canada. You see Marc Emery being targeted because he's a political activist, the leader of a political party. It should shock the conscious of all Canadians that he would be deported to face unjust penalties in the U.S. for something that in Canada he wouldn't even get jail time for."

Tousaw said the party will keep organizing and fighting for the legalization of pot while Emery once again fights in the courts. Emery spent three months in a Saskatchewan jail last year for passing a joint at a rally.

Outside the court, one demonstrator waved a massive Canadian flag bearing a marijuana leaf instead of a maple leaf.

Others criticized the extradition request.

"I'm outraged," said Dee Dempster, wearing a colourful marijuana blanket around her shoulders. "The American government is bullying the entire world. It's time for them to stop."

Conroy agreed.

"It seems to me if you do anything on the Internet that's illegal in the U.S., or that they don't like, you do run the risk of the U.S. federal government taking a position that you're doing things that somehow impact on their sovereignty," he said.

"In effect, they have some power over you no matter where you are."

Conroy is also representing Renee Boje, a U.S. citizen who is facing extradition on marijuana charges.

She has been supported by Emery and now hopes his case will bring more attention to her plight.

"The only thing that can save us is the public," said Boje, who faces a minimum of 10 years in jail for using medical marijuana stemming from a bust in California, where medical marijuana is legal.

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