Snag in deal by U.S and Canada's "Prince of Pot"

Wed Mar 5, 2008 8:38pm EST
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - A deal to resolve the extradition fight between Canada's "Prince of Pot" and U.S. drug authorities has hit a snag, the marijuana activist said on Wednesday.

The United States wants to extradite Marc Emery -- who founded a political party and campaigned across Canada to legalize pot -- on charges he illegally sold marijuana seeds from his Vancouver store to American buyers.

Emery tentatively agreed with U.S. prosecutors in January to plead guilty in return for the charges being dropped against two other defendants and he being allowed to spend the bulk of a 10-year sentence in Canada.

Canada must also approve the deal, but its prosecutors say a Canadian judge cannot be ordered to impose a U.S. prison sentence of no release for at least five years that is stricter than Canadian law requires.

"The Canadian government says that's not legal in Canada ... and so Justice Department in the United States says the deal is not possible because the Canadians are not playing ball so to speak," Emery told reporters.

Emery was in court in Vancouver on Wednesday to set a date for his extradition trial, but a judge agreed to postpone the hearing until April 19 to allow his lawyers, U.S. and Canadian prosecutors to continue negotiating.

Emery said he will fight extradition if a deal is not reached.

Emery has accused Canadian police of bowing to U.S. political demands by arresting him in 2005, since his activities were well-known and tolerated in Canada -- where he even paid taxes on his seed sales.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Sandra Maler)

<p>Canada's "Prince of Pot", Marc Emery talks with media outside court in Vancouver, British Columbia March 5, 2008. REUTERS/Andy Clark</p>