Plea deal for Canada's "Prince of Pot" falls apart

Fri Mar 28, 2008 6:19pm EDT
 
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Canada's "Prince of Pot" believes the Canadian government wants to punish him by blocking a plea deal with U.S. authorities, who want him to face charges of selling marijuana seeds from his Vancouver store to American customers.

Canada refused to go along with Marc Emery's deal with U.S. prosecutors to plead guilty in return for the United States dropping charges against two co-accused and allowing him to serve most of the sentence in a Canadian prison, the marijuana activist said on Friday.

The B.C. Marijuana Party founder said Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government is pursuing a get-tough policy on drug use and is upset by his long-running campaign for marijuana legalization.

"They want to make an example out of me," Emery told CKNW radio in Vancouver. "They just don't like me."

Emery was arrested in 2005 at the request of U.S. officials for allegedly selling millions of dollars in seeds to U.S. buyers, mostly by mail-order, from the seed business he operated openly in Canada for years.

A U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency statement in 2005 hailed Emery's arrest as blow to the "marijuana legalization movement" and cited his financial support of pro-pot groups in Canada and the United States.

Emery is also charged with money laundering, but he says he can prove he declared all his earnings to Canadian tax officials and gave most of the profits to charities and political candidates.

He is scheduled to appear in a Vancouver court next month, with an extradition hearing likely to start late in the year.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, editing by Rob Wilson)