When federal prosecutors asked a judge this morning to sentence Canadian activist Marc Emery to a five prison sentence for trafficking marijuana seeds, they made an unconvincing claim: that this isn't about politics. Here's an excerpt from the memorandum that Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Greenberg submitted today to a federal judge in Seattle (.pdf):
The government’s case was investigated and prosecuted without regard for Emery’s personal politics, his political agenda, or the ways in which he chose to spend the proceeds of his drug crimes. We do not view those matters as particularly relevant to the offense to which Emery pleaded guilty, or to the determination of the sentence that this Court will impose.
This is untreated horse shit. To believe it, you would need to forget a now-infamous incident in 2005—an incident we won't forget, thank you—when the U.S. Department of Justice most certainly showed its motivation. Karen Tandy, the administrator of the DEA (an agency within the Dept. of Justice), released a statement about Emery's arrest:
Today's DEA arrest of Marc Scott Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture Magazine, and the founder of a marijuana legalization group — is a significant blow not only to the marijuana trafficking trade in the U.S. and Canada, but also to the marijuana legalization movement. [...]
Hundreds of thousands of dollars of Emery's illicit profits are known to have been channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada. Drug legalization lobbyists now have one less pot of money to rely on.
Was Emery's operation illegal under U.S. law? You bet: In his plea agreement, Emery admitted selling over 4,000,000 marijuana seeds, mostly to customers in the U.S.
But the reason the feds are tackling his case with theatrics—extraditing him for a high-profile case—is clear. They were afraid of Emery's politics. They were afraid that fewer and fewer people believe in what the DEA is doing to pot smokers. They were afraid that all the money people spend on pot would go to fund a movement that is trying to end an ineffective, wasteful, inhumane, murderous drug war.
Prosecutors may succeed in getting a five-year prison sentence for Emery, but can't, in a few lines to a judge, erase their motivations. And they can't take back their candor in admitting that they are losing this political fight.