Pot Activist, Marc Emery, to be extradited to the US
On a story like this I find myself very conflicted, which is probably surprising given my very conservative lifestyle and views.
I do not smoke tobacco (never have), let alone pot. I only rarely drink alocohol (at age 42, I think I've had some alcohol about five times in my life, never more than a sip of beer, never more than a small glass of wine). I have seen pot destroy -- either itself or as the entry drug for other, harder substances -- many friends and some relatives, so that I am not a big supporter of pot rights either in theory or in practice.
On the other hand, some of the stories of those who find medical marijuana absolutely necessary to stay functional in the face of debilitating and life-ending diseases (the segment from 02:00 to 03:37 of the program here is one of the most heart-wrenching ones I've ever heard -- but less so than another story I can no longer locate. Does Angel Raich suffer from any striking credibility gap?). Does something displaying this kind of potential, even anecdotally, to alleviate debilitating symptoms deserve the kind of enforcement regime that exists in Canada? even more, the one that exists in the US?
On the other hand, should a scofflaw like Marc Emery be allowed to go parading about thumb firmly stuck on his nose at the law indefinitely? And, if his actions are not counter to Canadian law, should he go unpunished for flouting US law or fail to face extradition for supplying, not just medical users but also organized crime and hordes of under-functional pot-heads (made so by their ongoing use of pot) with the supplies that maintain their ability to break US law?
I have to do some research here for the following question: Were the Bronfmanns, Reichmanns and other liquour manufacturers ever similarly subjected to attempted extraditions to the US while the Prohibition laws in the US and Canada were divergent?
As a follow-on, I would ask, are there no parallels between the Prohibition debates then and those surrounding marijuana now? To me it seems self-evident that there is a high level of parallelism between the two questions and that ultimately, as much as anything, to get organized crime out of the marijuana supply chain, it will become a public safety necessity for government to get as intimately involved in the production and distribution of marijuana as they are today in the production and distribution of tobacco products and alcohol.
To me, speaking chemically, there is no difference between tobacco, booze and pot. They are all somewhat mind- or mood-altering; they all have some negative health impacts; they are all used recreationally and only tobacco, the most life-threatening of the three has never been outlawed, and hence has never been intertwined with organized crime. Doesn't anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Outlaw all three of them, or let them be legal and tax the bejeebies out of them, as is being done with tobacco and booze. Let's be consistent here.
All that said, Marc Emery's mistake, the one that removes all sympathy for his cause from me, is the fact that he made no efforts to keep his trade within Canadian borders. For him to have ignored what the standards are on the other side of the 49th, to have done anything but ignore all requests from potential customers from the US put him well within the DEA cross-hairs and if, in an American court he gets 10 years to life of hard time in an American Federal prison, that was the risk he took and he should be willing to survive the ordeal.
I say this, as much as anything else, from a Christian point of view where my fellow believers contravene their local laws in their countries of birth by possessing Bibles, talking about Jesus, or even by the very act of themselves having converted to Christianity. They know the risks and they accept them -- and if I lived there, so would I. From the outside, I appeal to their governments to desist from harassing my brothers and sisters in Christ but my appeal is for them to change their laws, not merely to release them apart from that change. (Are you listening People's Republic of China? Myanmar? Saudi Arabia? North Korea?)
On top of this, let me add my initial reaction with regard to Canadian sovereignty and Canadian authorities choosing to allow Mr. Emery's "rendering" to a country where penalties for marijuana trade are harsher. I already feel that Canada's very existence is at risk, especially with regard to having a separate legal code or an independant foreign policy, so my first reaction was, "How dare they!" However, a lot of these feelings evaporated when I heard the contents of the indictments against Mr. Emery, that they mostly had to do with trade into the US. Marc carried on business in the US which under US law was illegal. It would have been more productive to his cause in the Canadian national debate for him to be arrested in Canada and have his case tried before a Canadian court. His own folly or excessive idealism led him to a place where that will not happen. For his sake, I hope there are people who will be willing to visit him in Leavenworth, or San Quentin, or whatever life-suspension home a US court will consign him to.