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By Hempology | August 18, 2005

Suspicious Mail Sought Personal Data, Money, After Arrest Of Marijuana Supplier

VANCOUVER — Two weeks after the arrest of the self-proclaimed “Prince of Pot,” about 50 people who ordered marijuana seeds from Marc Emery’s Vancouver store are spooked by suspicious mail that asks for their personal information and their money.

Some think the letters — which mimic Mr. Emery’s pro-pot zeal with the slogans “Smoke for Freedom of Choice! Smoke for our leader! Overgrow the government!” — could be the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency trying to smoke them out, although a U.S. prosecutor says the letters are likely nothing more than a scam.

Josh Williams of London, Ont., said he received a letter about a week ago that said Mr. Emery’s inventory was seized and that his company, Marc Emery Direct, needed another $100 to process Mr. Williams’s seed order.

Mr. Williams, 25, can legally possess and grow marijuana for health reasons. Three years ago, a car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down. He lives on government assistance and smokes pot for relief from chronic pain, severe muscle spasms, anxiety and depression.

After learning the letter wasn’t from Mr. Emery, Mr. Williams said he was furious that someone would try to take advantage of him. He said he thinks it’s U.S. authorities looking for Canadians to indict.

“It sounds like they’re trying to weed out the people who are growing,” he said.

“I feel like my rights as a Canadian are being violated. Who runs our country — Canada or the U.S.?”

About 50 people from the provinces of Ontario and Alberta, eight U.S. states, New Zealand and Australia have written to Marc Emery’s magazine, Cannabis Culture, saying they’ve received similar letters.

Mr. Emery said someone intercepted his store’s outgoing mail in June, causing a delay in the orders. Up to 300 addresses might have been copied, and he said he thinks the incident is part of an effort by U.S. authorities to entrap marijuana growers into revealing who they are and what they’re growing.

“It’s a completely self-incriminating invitation, supposedly sent out by someone impersonating me,” he said.

At least five people sent information and money to the bogus address, said Assistant Editor Jodie Giesz-Ramsay.

“We tell everyone: Shut down your garden or your grow operation if you have one, don’t respond to any mail, and keep your eyes out for anything else suspicious,” she said.

Neither the RCMP, Vancouver Police, or the DEA would comment directly on the letters, but officials did say the investigation of Mr. Emery is continuing.

Todd Greenberg, the assistant U.S. attorney who is prosecuting Mr. Emery’s case from Seattle, said about 20 large grow-ops in the United States have been shut down after doing business with Mr. Emery.

During a year-long undercover investigation into Mr. Emery’s Vancouver store, U.S. investigators traced about $700,000 entering Mr. Emery’s accounts. More than $5-million had been traced entering the accounts since 1999, Mr. Greenberg said.

But he said prosecuting Canadian growers or users wasn’t “high on my list. We were targeting Emery’s operation as opposed to the individual customers.”

The DEA wouldn’t need to confirm any orders because the investigators would have already gotten the information from their undercover operation, he said, adding, “It sounds like a scam to me.”

Mr. Emery is wanted in the United States on conspiracy to sell marijuana seeds there. U.S. authorities want him extradited from Canada.

Mr. Emery will attend a preliminary hearing on his extradition on Aug. 25.

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