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September 2010
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Marc Emery ripples

Via Allen St. Pierre comes this fascinating OpEd from John McKay, the prosecutor who indicted Marc Emery (and a former law enforcement official). Marijuana’s true potency and why the law should change

I DON’T smoke pot. And I pretty much think people who do are idiots.

This certainly includes Marc Emery, the self-styled “Prince of Pot” from Canada whom I indicted in 2005 […]

As Emery’s prosecutor and a former federal law-enforcement official, however, I’m not afraid to say out loud what most of my former colleagues know is true: Our marijuana policy is dangerous and wrong and should be changed through the legislative process to better protect the public safety. […]

• First, we need to honestly and courageously examine the true public-safety danger posed by criminalizing a drug used by millions and millions of Americans who ignore the law. Marijuana prohibition has failed — it’s time for a new policy crafted by informed policymakers with the help of those in law enforcement who have risked their lives battling pot-purveying drug cartels and gangs.

• Second, let’s talk about marijuana policy responsibly and with an eye toward sound science, not myth. We can start by acknowledging that our 1930s-era marijuana prohibition was overkill from the beginning and should be decoupled from any debate about “legalizing drugs.” We should study and disclose the findings of the real health risks of prolonged use, including its influence and effect on juveniles.

• Third, we should give serious consideration to heavy regulation and taxation of the marijuana industry (an industry that is very real and dangerously underground). We should limit pot’s content of the active ingredient THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), regulate its sale to adults who are dumb enough to want it and maintain criminal penalties for sales, possession or use by minors, drivers and boaters.

Pretty strong legalization words for someone who despises marijuana as much as he does.

Speaking of Marc Emery, Eric Sterling found something interesting: The Sentencing Memorandum filed by the U.S. Justice Department (Jenny A. Durkan and Todd Greenberg) on August 31, which included this rather unusual statement:

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.

Yeah, right.

A little defensive sounding. And pretty dramatically at odds with the public statement made by then head of the DEA Karen P. Tandy:

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.

His marijuana trade and propagandist marijuana magazine have generated nearly $5 million a year in profits that bolstered his trafficking efforts, but those have gone up in smoke today.

Emery and his organization had been designated as one of the Attorney General’s most wanted international drug trafficking organizational targets — one of only 46 in the world and the only one from Canada.

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.

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45 comments to Marc Emery ripples

  • Just me.

    Humm..seems the legalization effort is going on stronger than ever…..quit the ‘Blow’ arresting Marc Emery huh…

    Big official victory winning words! ZERO effect.

  • Fuladol

    Adults who drink alcohol responsibly are dumb idiots too?

  • Cannabis

    Let us hope that The Honorable Ricardo S. Martinez can plainly see that Jenny A. Durkan and Todd Greenberg are lying to the Court and takes that into consideration when sentencing Marc. These two sentences could have easily been left out of the document and not changed the rest of it:

    “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.”

  • divadab

    McKay was also one of the prosecutors fired by the Bush “àdministration“ for refusing to bring trumped up politically-motivated prosecutions of `voter fraud`. He`s a life-long Republican, but for his standing on principle he was dismissed. The cheapest thing about the whole affair was that the `justice` Dept. public statement accused McKAy and the other dismissed prosecutors of `performance issues`.

    I don`t like his politics, and his ideas about cannabis are wrong, but I respect him for standing up to the corrupt republican political machine on principle.

  • ezrydn

    I wonder who or what got to him to cause the change in tune? There’s got to be ulterior motives attached to this story that we’re not hearing.

  • mikekinseattle

    Mr. McKay grew up in Washington state, and is now a law school professor at Seattle Univ, so maybe the prevailing local attitudes towards cannabis have finally begun to infiltrate his thinking. I appreciate that he now at least understands the harms of prohibition. Too bad Kerlikowske didn’t imbibe the local waters long or deep enough.

    McKay still has a ways to go, though: calling me an idiot for enjoying cannabis is just a gratuitous insult. And I’ve been enjoying it for over 35 years. I’ve also been an IT professional for 30 years, been with the same woman for about the same amount of time, our two offspring are now adults (one of whom also enjoys cannabis, the other one has no interest in it), I’ve been a homeowner for 20 years, and maintain the house and grounds. I stay healthy, exercise regularly, haven’t moved on to harder drugs. I am one of the many people who prefer cannabis to alcohol, although I also enjoy the great local ales. True, there are times when my wife thinks I’m an idiot, but it isn’t because of my cannabis use. In short, I’m just a regular guy who enjoys the wonderful and beneficial effects of the dried flower of the cannabis plant. That’s not so idiotic, is it?

  • mikekinseattle

    It is possible that M

  • mikekinseattle

    Sorry, I hit the wrong button.
    It is possible that Mr McKay is doing some groundwork for a run at political office. The op-ed will play well with voters in the Puget Sound area. This is a city whose mayor, Mike McGinn, is in favor of legalization, and whose city attorney was elected partly because of his campaign pledge to not prosecute people for simple possession.

  • mikekinseattle

    Oh, and the prosecutor in King County (of which Seattle is the county seat), Dan Satterberg, a Republican, has been very reasonable in his approach to our medical marijuana laws.

  • Steve in Clearwater

    Great catch, Pete and thanks for the post.

    Outside of the silly and utterly unenforceable, “We should limit the amount of THC content….”, it’s an excellent summation of common sense and certainly welcome.

  • darkcycle

    Tandy’s take is more believable. They just hate it when their motives are laid bare. They’ve been trying to walk that statement back since she made it. Well, I guess it isn’t working, they still need to repeat themselves every time the subject comes up. Good.
    I pretty much think people who smoke pot are idiots, too. But then ask me my opinion of people in general and you’ll likely get the same answer. In particular, I think the biggest idiots are people who throw out smears against an entire group of people. And then go on to admit that the positions of the group they just smeared are fundamentally correct. And that this group of idiots comprises millions of people. And that maybe turning all those millions of people into criminals for seventy years or so was “overkill”. Those people are the biggest idiots of all, having gladly accepted their place in the machinery of prohibition for as long as it brought them a paycheck. This is why I (forgive me my sin) have zero respect for LEAP. O.K., now it’s time to stop before I say something really offensive.

  • so darkcycle… why the diss on LEAP, I’m curious? They’ve made inroads on this discussion most of us certainly never could have. A change of mind and heart is not a bad thing, it is redemptive and great validation of the work so many of us have done for so long. I’ve corresponded with a lot of the LEAP speakers over the years, a few of ’em I consider friends (weird how the wwweb can make us friends w/ people we never meet). 35 years ago if someone had told me I would be standing shoulder to shoulder with cops (or judges or corrections officials or prosecutors…) who want legalization I woulda thunk that person was real high.

    And Marc Emery’s arrest was no more politically motivated than Tommy Chong’s. After all they smoke herb and talk about it! Damn potheads anyway… next thing ya know they’ll be telling us they want to be President and Olympic chamions. Back to the couch evil stoners!

    Oh, and if you aren’t wearing your hard hat, back away from that wall, please. It’s not stable…

  • M.Carol

    As far as idiots go, I think people who work to suppress the freedoms of millions of people to use an herbal therapeutic (including “recreational” use) are much worse than idiots and are at the root of many problems in much of life.

    I think Marc Emery is a hero, and in the end he will have accomplished a great deal in this most difficult of causes.

  • marxist utopia

    The prohibitionists are the idiots who learned nothing from alcohol prohibition.

  • Tim

    I remember finding out about the existence of that DEA press release about a week after Marc was arrested. It was FAXED to area media but was not put on the website for a few months afterward (after they had been caught). In fact, in the first version, Tandy calls him “Mark Scott Emery.”

    It is thanks to Loretta Nall’s call to a few reporters in the Vancouver and Seattle area they we heard about this, and that it was eventually reported on. The DEA really, really tried to surpress this. I figure they realized their goof within hours of sending it out. But they couldn’t unring the bell.

    As for McKay, don’t forget that there was a US Attorney murdered (I think it was McKay’s predecessor) and may have thought that the Emery investigation was a bit of payback, as it was suspected that drug elements murdered that attorney.

  • JRH

    You Can add Rodger Christe founder of the THC Minstry and A leading activist in Hawaii to the list. He was arrested last month and is being held without bail untill a scheduled trail in April of 2011

  • darkcycle

    Allan, I diss LEAP because the folks there had no problem with the drug laws as long as career advancement, or just a paycheck was at stake. I lived in Seattle when Norm was chief, and during that period alot of people were arrested for pot and given permanant records.
    While the influence of LEAP is positive, and they can speak to Joe Everybody more effectively than we can in many cases, I’ll be blunt: I don’t forgive them for the lives they’ve damaged, the careers they’ve ruined, the families they’ve helped to dissolve and the incalculable number of years we or our peers have spent in cages. No “change of heart” can erase that damage. I am unsympathetic to Norm and his buddies, but they get to live with that. I’ll accept their help, but that don’t mean I hafta like them.

  • Tim

    BTW, Costa’s back.

    Last but not least, there’s the question of human rights. Around the world, millions of people caught taking drugs are sent to jail. In some countries, drug treatment amounts to the equivalent of torture. People are sentenced to death for drug-related offences. Although drugs kill, governments should not kill because of them. The prohibition versus legalisation debate must stop being ideological and look for the appropriate degree of controls. Drug control is not the task of governments alone: it is a society-wide responsibility. Are we ready to engage?

    He’s going Kleiman! He’s going Kleiman! Man the barricades!

  • John

    Worst apology ever.

  • Bruce

    Hahas I had my car impounded just for an odor. Cost me $888.00 in fines points etc.
    It did not say Marijuana on it when I recieved it but they sure do take the Liberty of telling me what that smell was. I’ve had the same smell appear from the taylor-made Cigarettes sold up the street.
    The next time I am targetted in that fashion am going to light my car on fire.
    Give Mark Emery back, you thieving abducting gutter class audacious illegitimate lawyerly manipulative cunning reptilian box-heads.

  • @ darkcycle… hmmm… let me throw this out there as a comparison…

    I’m soon to be 59, I served in SE Asia during WWVN, helping to bomb Cambodia… I was helping in the killing of short brown folks who had never done anything to me – and I was doing it from afar. Then one day some LSD arrived from the states… I had my epiphany of peace conscience-ness in a psychedelic state. I knew I liked the Thais and that the folks in Cambodia weren’t much different than these folks I was living in the with and the idea of me helping bomb them didn’t fit. I decided then and there that I was an advocate for peace and I’ve held that stance since that day. Before that I didn’t have a clue…

    … sometimes we need to find ourselves in the thick of it before we even realize we’re in the thick of anything at all. Ya know what I mean?

    In a way, it’s all the more reason to salute them… in a sense the cops themselves are prisoners of war, having to enforce laws that are absurd and unenforceable.

  • Richard Steeb

    Gotta wonder what darkcycle thinks of CNOA and their ilk. The folks at LEAP are at least trying to redeem themselves! Give them credit and respect for that.

  • Just me.

    Then one day some LSD arrived from the states… I had my epiphany of peace conscience-ness in a psychedelic state. I knew I liked the Thais and that the folks in Cambodia weren’t much different than these folks I was living in the with and the idea of me helping bomb them didn’t fit. I decided then and there that I was an advocate for peace and I’ve held that stance since that day. Before that I didn’t have a clue…

    … sometimes we need to find ourselves in the thick of it before we even realize we’re in the thick of anything at all. Ya know what I mean?

    Ya those epiphanies are a slap in the face of the way you ‘thought ‘ the world was.

  • @darkcycle, many of these cops realized in the middle of their careers that the laws were wrong, but they were sworn to enforce the law whether they agreed with it or not. They didn’t have the option of picking and choosing which laws they would enforce. They had to choose whether to keep busting pot smokers or stop arresting robbers, rapists and murderers. You can decide for yourself whether you want them enforcing all the laws or none of them, but you have no authority to judge them for the choice they made.

    I also think you’re making an invalid assumption that all LEAP members are retired. The ones that have the time to travel and do speaking engagements are retired, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t advocate reform while they were still in blue, or that there aren’t police today who favor drug law reform.

  • BluOx

    People make mistakes, admit them, and are sometimes forgiven. McKay seems to be blaming everybody else for the country’s longest running war. His true thoughts are to be found in his closing paragraph…” DEA and it’s partners must remain”. A true statist stooge to the end. OVERGROW THE GOVERNMENT!..M Emery.

  • darkcycle

    Just a quick couple of words and then I think we should let this topic expire. Allan, I spent my time (18 mo.) in Nicaragua in a nasty little revolution that we were supposed to have had no hand in. I have blood on my hands too. And I wasn’t drafted, I volunteered. My epiphany didn’t come until much later, after I had spent several years in an alcoholic blackout during which time I hurt even more people. (PTSD is a fucking bitch, Allan do you sleep through the night yet? I don’t and I’m 51 this month) Today, I won’t even watch T.V. The level of violence makes me physically ill. The personal recrimination I go through every night as I wait for some sort of sleep is horrible. I fucking EARNED that shit, it was and is my own little Sartrean hell. I get to live with it, and no ammount of doing good, or happy feeling huggy-bunny horseshit is going to change one bit of history. So…..if you have regrets about the path you have chosen, tough, it’s your history. We all make our choices with our eyes open, if you’re making the right choice now, good on you. Like they say in AA, you can make a cucumber into a pickle, but you can’t turn that pickle back into a cucumber.
    RickM420, there’s something known as discretion. If you get pulled over for speeding, the cop may not write you a ticket. If he does, he has a range of options to ticket you for…simply speeding, or (here where I live) driving too fast for conditions, or even reckless driving. If you are arrested, the prosecutor may or may not charge you. Or he may charge you with a lesser crime. At each and every step in the process the person responsable for that step can decide “it’s not worth it”, or it’s not a good use of resources”. All it takes is one single participant to decide “nah” and the prosecution doesn’t go forward. Discretion is well understood and accepted legal principal. Cops do decide which laws they will enforce, each and every time they go out.
    It is impossible, and undesireable to enforce ALL the laws. We don’t enforce laws against sodomy in this country anymore, yet these are still laws in alot of places. So. While your reasoning sounds good, it is a black and white picture of a gray cat.

  • @ darkcycle… brother, I don’t know firsthand what PTSD feels like. But I do know and have known plenty of vets that deal w/ it. I used to feel bad that I was stationed in Thailand instead of VN, too many suffered or didn’t come home for me to feel good about having basically a wonderful year ($5 kilos? $.25 Thai sticks? heck yeah, I enjoyed the shit outta that, plus good food, a great and gorgeous girlfriend… good buddies and a war that was at a distance). But one day I expressed that sentiment to a cuppla VN vet friends and they told me “BS Allan, we’re glad you didn’t go, enough, too many of us did.”

    I have few regrets and have been throwing mybody at the machine since before I got out of the military (I was the guy who worked in a photo lab and took the first NORML “Legalize Marijuana” ad and turned it into a 3 X 4 sticker and pasted ’em on the buses, in the latrines… we smuggled SEEDS onto the base so we could sow them into the flower beds around base). I’ve hand my hand in lots of issues (sued my college in ’77 over free speech issues), been arrested twice for the politics of peace… and in each and every situation, strange bedfellows are made. We don’t get to pick our allies sometimes, the momentum of action, the appeal for support, brings in the folks like moths to light.

    This is an important piece to our puzzle, I don’t take it lightly and appreciate every one of us swinging hammers. Veterans of any war who turn their hearts and minds against it deserve a hearty “welcome home.”

  • for you Mitchiganders: WASHTENAW COUNTY: Readers’ input sought for story about medical marijuana issue

    Please join Heritage Newspapers for a live chat beginning 1 p.m. Thursday at http://www.heritage.com on the issue of medical marijuana and its impact on local communities. Check out this video first on our story idea and then help us decide how we will pursue the story. What questions should we ask, what angles should we explore, what do you want to know and what are your concerns? We also want to know whether you want to contribute a video, poll question, audio chat or photos.

  • darkcycle

    Hey. It’s no thing. I am glad for LEAP and their work, don’t get me wrong. I’d love to have a cuppa with Norm Stamper. I just don’t buy the “I was just doing my job” line. I own what I did. I insist others do too.

  • I grok that. But ya know, just sittin’ around on Pete’s couch our conversation can meander. I mean we sit here in public talking about everything under the sun, while the cockroach Prohibs scuttle around in their dark corners, not engaging the discussion, not wanting to hear anything contrary to their jihadist extremism… their lack of visibility is a point of its own in questioning their motivations and methods.

  • skootercat

    I have been grabbed by your words “darkcycle” in this thread and started to respond a few times about LEAP, but also feel as you do, all LE could do more (anything) to make the situation we have today honorable, especially active LE. Most of the LEAP members I have met were involved in LE before mandatory sentencing, forfeiture and SWAT services for misdemeanors. Unfortunately, I do not know their “newer” members having participated an entire career in the practices we all abhor and now side differently in retirement. Life is varied for sure and you really never know when/how that change comes to fruition.

    In 2004, I was involved with PATV and had opportunity to work on an interview of Howard Wooldridge. He was asked about the horrible situations mentioned previously and his response was “I wish I could go back and apologize to everyone…” I believe he meant it and showed the world by riding his horse across the US for drug peace. Today he lobbies Congress on a continual basis for change in federal drug policies. Talk of a man that must have had a hell of an epiphany…and is now giving his all to make that change.

    “allan420” I always look for your good posts on the side of reason. Thank you for them and the understanding you bring to this table.

  • darkcycle

    Allan, we should share a bowl sometime.

  • aye darkcycle… we ALL should get to share a bowl sometime. There was discussion many years ago about just such an occasion… when the WO(s)D ends, we rent a former missile silo somewhere in the midwest and have us one helluva bash! Heck, if a silo can make a good LSD lab surely a buncha potheads can throw a great party in one.

    … sigh… someday

    @ skootercat… thanks for the kind words. I try.

  • darkcycle

    …or maybe just show up at Pete’s door one day, unannounced…

  • … a thousand strong! “Hi Pete. We’re all gonna crash here for a few days…”

    good one darkcycle. Pete, I hope you have more furniture (and a few extra chairs) than this virtual couch.

  • Just me.

    allan420
    September 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm
    … a thousand strong! “Hi Pete. We’re all gonna crash here for a few days…”

    good one darkcycle. Pete, I hope you have more furniture (and a few extra chairs) than this virtual couch.

    Ok , Pete. I think your gonna need a MUCH bigger couch!

  • … and LOTS of chips and dip! Maybe Ninkasi Brewing will kick down a few kegs of Total Domination…

  • mikekinseattle

    Count me in! I love that Total Domination.

  • one of those “good to see” headlines:

    Marijuana activists stage Mexico City smoke-out to protest prohibition

    With the nation in the throws of a violent drug war, over 200 people gathered in a central Mexico City park Sunday to smoke marijuana and demand it be legalized, an AFP reporter witnessed.

    The protestors withstood drizzling rain to hang out on the popular tourist drag of the Alameda to smoke the herb, which remains illegal in Mexico, although the country is among a handful of Latin American nations that allow for the possession of a small “personal dose” of the drug.

    Many participants smoked out of pipes decorated with skulls, which were said to allude to traditional pre-Hispanic cultures, as music was played and a petition was circulated to call for legalization.

  • darkcycle

    shit. Another drug war victim.

  • skootercat

    It will continue until the first politician get ousted.

  • Trashed someones labour and effort. You think carpentry work is EASY? All for a few plants, what a crock.
    Its the stress that killed that guy. Fascists. Ptoooooey

  • Just me.

    Dont’ch just love how they smash in,grab the money and property,leave and make no arrests.

    Badge or not, thats theft and terrorism. . . which is the way it maybe designed. DEA doesnt have enough manpower to enforce’federal law’ so …promise locals federal money to do thier jobs?

    I think this federal vs state law thing will be solved here soon, with the states telling the feds where to stick it. This drugwar thing and the problems at our BORDERS, plural, are not separate things.Much of wasteful spending and usless laws are tied to the drug war and its influence around the world. Its not many separate problems as they would like you to believe, its all related to the hunger for power and controll of all.