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By Hempology | July 31, 2005

Emery In Valley For Hempfest

VANCOUVER – Police raided a pot activist’s business Friday, acting on a search warrant requested by the U.S. government.

The U.S. wants Marc Emery extradited to face charges on the sale of marijuana seeds on the Internet and by mail.

Emery, who is also leader of the B.C. Marijuana party, was not at the store when it was raided, but U.S. justice officials said the RCMP arrested him earlier Friday in Nova Scotia.

Emery was scheduled to speak at this year’s Atlantic Hempfest, at the Valley Ex grounds in Lawrencetown. The fundraiser for Maritimers Unite for Medical Marijuana started Friday and runs through Sunday.

It’s a weekend of rock, folk and blues concerts and a campaign for marijuana education and awareness.

Debbie Stultz-Giffin, chairwoman of the medical marijuana group, said police arrested Mr. Emery in a Lawrencetown eatery.

“He had left the festival grounds to venture further into the village of Lawrencetown to have some lunch at the Fireman’s Restaurant,” Stultz-Griffin said Friday evening.

“When he came out . . . he was arrested.”

Stultz-Giffin said that after hearing about the raid at the store, she tried to track down Emery to let him know what was going on at his Vancouver business.

“By the time I discovered where he was, he had been arrested,” she said.

“I recognized the car sitting outside the restaurant and went in to inquire, and the waitress told me that he had been arrested.”

John Cook, vice-chairman of the festival and director of the Halifax branch of the Cannabis Buyers’ Club of Canada, called the incident “very unfortunate.”

“It of course took us very much by surprise, and we’re just in damage control now.”

Cook said he hopes the arrest won’t reflect badly on this weekend’s Hempfest but emphasized that he sympathizes with Emery.

“He came down to have a good time on the weekend and got surprised,” he said.

Cook said Hempfest is an event at which people can gather once a year “and be able to enjoy themselves without the fear of being looked down upon or being hassled by the police.

“Things aren’t as bad as they’re made out to be.”

Authorization for the raid came Thursday from Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm of the B.C. Supreme Court, under the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

Several officers raided the marijuana seed and paraphernalia store on West Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver that is run by Emery, whom the search warrant also described by his alias, the Prince of Pot.

The search warrant said Emery, Gregory Williams and Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek are wanted in the U.S. to face charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, conspiracy to distribute marijuana seeds and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.

“He was arrested as a request from the Vancouver police department,” Const. Mark Hobeck said Friday evening, adding that Halifax Regional Police and RCMP worked together through their integrated drug unit.

“As part of the investigation they conducted surveillance on him.

“As the Vancouver police department’s investigation progressed today, a request was made and he was arrested” at about 2:15 p.m. for trafficking and cultivation of narcotics.

“He’ll be remanded here until arrangements can be made to have him transported back to Vancouver,” Hobeck said.

He said Emery will remain in the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility in Dartmouth until police, probably officers from Vancouver, arrive to take him back.

Police arrested Williams and Rainey-Fenkarek in Vancouver, Jeff Sullivan, chief of the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, told a news conference in Seattle.

Sullivan said the U.S. is seeking the extradition of Emery, Williams and Rainey-Fenkarek on the conspiracy charges after they were indicted by a federal grand jury in May.

The indictment followed an 18-month investigation by American police into the sale of marijuana seeds on the Internet and by mail.

Rod Benson, the special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Agency in Seattle, said at the news conference that Emery showed “overwhelming arrogance and abuse of the rule of law,” which he said “will no longer be on display or tolerated.”

“The message here is clear,” he said. “Those engaged in the cultivation and trafficking of illegal drugs will eventually pay a steep price.”

A conviction on the charges carries a sentence ranging from 10 years to life in prison, Sullivan said.

Emery, who is in his mid-40s, was released from jail in Saskatoon last October after three months in jail for passing a joint at a pot rally in 2004.

While it was Emery’s 11th drug-related conviction, it was the first time he had been jailed.

Toker’s Bowl, the store that was raided, is beside the New Amsterdam Cafe, where people have been smoking marijuana openly for years.

Several people gathered outside the store to protest the raid, many holding anti-American signs.


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