The Prince Of Pot

Could Face Stiff Jail Sentence If Prosecuted In U.S.

This story originally aired on March 5, 2006.

His name is Marc Emery and he is called the "Prince of Pot." He claims to have sold more marijuana seeds than anyone in the world and, to date, no one has disputed that claim. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, where the culture is rather permissive concerning marijuana. The Canadian government, for the most part, has left Emery and his business alone.

But to the U.S., he is one of the most wanted men in the drug world. As 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon reported earlier this year, officials in the Drug Enforcement Administration want him extradited to the United States. They want him in an American prison and they want him badly.

Emery believes that marijuana is a wonderful, healing drug and that to criminalize it is just plain silly. To his supporters, he's a hero, the leader of the marijuana legalization movement. He has even run for mayor of Vancouver, twice.

But to the U.S. government, Marc Emery is a drug kingpin who should be prosecuted in the United States for selling drugs to Americans.

Asked if he has any idea how many of his customers were Americans, Emery says, "Yes, I would think that of the say, 120,000 people I dealt with, I'd say certainly 70,000 would have been Americans."

That's why John McKay, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, wants to bring Emery south, across the border.

Why are the Americans going after Emery, who is a Canadian citizen, and not the Canadian government?

"Well, very simply, he's a drug dealer," says McKay. "He's dealing drugs into the United States and violating laws of the United States and we expect to extradite him and try him in the United States."

"Are there other Canadians who sort of are competitive with him in terms of volume?" Simon asked.

"Today, to our knowledge, Marc Emery is the biggest purveyor of marijuana from Canada into the United States," McKay replied.

Well, it's not exactly marijuana. For over a decade, Marc Emery sold marijuana seeds. Technically, that's illegal in British Columbia, but no one has ever gotten more than a slap on the wrist for doing it.

Emery's headquarters since 2002, is a store in Vancouver, which also sells marijuana paraphernalia and the magazine Emery publishes, "Cannabis Culture." Inside the magazine is a mail order seed catalogue, but not for gardeners.

The catalogue, Emery explains, lists 550 different varieties of marijuana seeds.

"For height, you can get a short plant, a tall plant, a purple plant, a red plant, one that goes indoor, outdoor. One that's good for almost anything that ails you," he explains. "That I could have sold to you and it would address your medical needs or whatever your needs are in regards to cannabis."

"Somebody could order any one of these strains and you'd just put it in an envelope?" Simon asked.

"Yes, very simple because you just need a number 10 business size envelope and away it went in the mail for just 85 cents," Emery replied.

Emery claims to be the first marijuana seed vendor to sell seeds directly over the Internet. His Web site, Marc Emery Direct, sold seeds with names like "Chocolate Chunk" and "The Hog," which sold at $275 Canadian (ca. $240 U.S.) for just 10 seeds, available to anyone in the world with access to a computer.

Asked how much money he has made in this business over the years, Emery says, "I would say that our sales of seeds over 10 years probably were around $15 million."