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White House Responds to ‘Pardon Marc Emery’ Petition

submitted by on November 18, 2011

CANNABIS CULTURE – The White House has finally issued a response to the "Pardon Marc Emery" petition signed by 8,249 people calling for Obama to pardon Marc and send him home to Canada. Not surprisingly, the answer is mostly a disappointing non-response: the White House has "declined to comment".

Here is the original "Pardon Marc Emery" petition text submitted to the website's "We The People" petition campaign:

We petition the Obama Administration to: Pardon Marc Emery

Created: September 23, 2011
Issues: Civil Rights and Liberties, Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement, Human Rights
Total signatures: 8,249

We formally request President Obama pardon and release Marc Scott Emery. Marc Emery, a well-known Canadian political activist, publisher, businessman and leader of the BC Marijuana Party, was arrested in 2005 at the request of the United States for selling cannabis seeds through the mail. The DEA press release by Administrator Karen Tandy on July 29th, 2005 clearly explained the United States’ extradition request was a “significant blow … to the marijuana legalization movement” because Marc Emery’s money had been “channeled to marijuana legalization groups active in the United States and Canada” – and therefore, was for the purpose of prosecuting and punishing him by reason of his political opinion, activity and involvement; [DEA press release seen at]

Here is the official White House response, issued November 18th, 2011:

Official White House Response to Pardon Marc Emery

Why We Can’t Comment on Marc Emery

Thank you for signing the petition "Pardon Marc Emery." We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on

Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the President the authority to grant "Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States." For more than 100 years, Presidents have relied on the Department of Justice and its Office of the Pardon Attorney for assistance in the exercise of this power. Requests for executive clemency for federal offenses should be directed to the Pardon Attorney, who conducts a review and investigation, and prepares the Department's recommendation to the President. Additional information and application forms are available on the Pardon Attorney's website.

The President takes his constitutional power to grant clemency very seriously, and recommendations from the Department of Justice are carefully considered before decisions are made. The White House does not comment, however, on individual pardon applications. In accordance with this policy and the We the People Terms of Participation–which explain that the White House may sometimes choose not to respond to petitions addressing certain matters—the White House declines to comment on the specific case addressed in this petition.

The White House answer to the "Pardon Marc Emery" petition is one of only 19 responses issued so far to numerous petitions submitted by Americans through the website's "We The People" campaign. Many of those 19 petitions received the same non-response, refusal to comment, leaving many Americans discouraged yet again in President Obama for claiming that he wants to listen to the American people, but ignoring them when they bring up serious issues.

Three times Obama has sought public input on the most important problems facing the United States; three times the number one issue voted on has been cannabis prohibition and the drug war – the #1 petition at "We The People" being the most recent; and three times the President has laughed off or ignored the question. Based on that record, it's not surprising that the White House won't comment on the "Pardon Marc Emery" petition.

"Am I surprised? Unfortunately, no," said Jodie Emery, wife of Marc Emery. "But it's certainly a disappointment because Marc was obviously persecuted for his political activism and financial contributions, as stated in the DEA's own press release on his arrest. He has widespread political and public support in Canada, the United States, and even worldwide to bring him back home."

The disappointment in the White House isn't limited to the pardon petition. "Obama has been a failure as President when it comes to truly upholding justice and addressing what really matters to Americans," Jodie said. "The petition responses – or lack thereof – are an insult to citizens of the United States who expected accountable, open, progressive government when they voted for Obama on his promise of delivering 'hope' and 'change'."

Marc's response upon hearing the White House's comments: "Americans should be encouraged more than ever to join in the Republican Presidential campaigns for Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, two principled politicians who have made ending the drug war a priority in their public statements and political careers. There is simply no hope with President Obama."

Marc is currently serving a five-year plea deal sentence in Yazoo City medium-security federal prison in Mississippi. His transfer application to serve his time in Canada was rejected by the US Justice Department in April 2011. He can reapply for transfer in 2013, but it's not likely he will win support from the Canadian Conservative government, which is changing the transfer agreement guidelines to prevent most Canadians from being transferred home.

In the U.S. federal Bureau of Prisons, inmates are eligible for "early release" at 85% of their sentence if they remain on good behaviour. Marc's early release date is set for July 9th, 2014. He writes regularly from prison; his blogs can be seen at

Marc’s thoughts about the White House petitions

submitted by on November 2, 2011

Today is November 1, 980 days to go till my release on July 9, 2014. There are two possible hopeful scenarios that could shorten that wait. One is the petition to "Pardon Marc Emery" which appears at in the "We The People" section. On September 22, that petition initiative website was launched and any petition that obtained 5,000 signatures within 30 days was promised a response from the White House.

The threshold of petitioners for an acknowledgement by the White House was raised to 25,000 signatories by early October, the exception being those petitions that had been started under the original rules. The petition to give me a pardon (based on the explicitness of DEA's statement that my crime was legalization advocacy and financing, no mention of distribution of seeds) reached 7,500 signatures in 30 days and qualifies for a response, which is due shortly.

A pardon is desirable for two reasons: it would free me immediately, and it would permit me to return to the United States to speak to those supporters in America who would wish to meet me and hear me speak. Once I am deported from the USA on the "early release" completion of my sentence on July 9, 2014, I will be barred from entering the United States at any future time.

I'd like to thank all those who took the time to sign on to the petition. Newspapers and radio in Canada covered the petition to have me pardoned, and they’ve been asking Jodie for news about the response from the White House when it comes. Those who posted the links on their Facebook or Twitter get special thanks. The required 5,000 signatures took only nine days to achieve. Tommy Chong made a charming video for Pot TV urging people to sign on to the petition. In fact, I was speaking to Tommy on the phone only moments before he made the video, which can be seen on YouTube, as he came by the Cannabis Culture Headquarters to check in and help with the petition drive.

The other possibility for an earlier release is for me to be transferred home. In March 2013, 16 months from now, I can make an application to the US Department of Justice requesting, once again, a transfer back to Canada to serve out my sentence. Both the US Department of Justice and the Canadian Ministry of Public Safety must approve this request. If I had been accepted for transfer earlier this winter when I first applied, I would have been eligible in Canada for release on parole in on November 16, 2011 as a first-time non-violent offender, which means I qualified for release at 1/3 of my sentence in Canada.

As you know, the US Department of Justice refused my transfer application in April this year, even though I qualified under all 26 criteria set out and had over 23 elected representatives from all levels of Canadian government endorse my transfer. It’s thought that the DEA and the Canadian government under Stephen Harper were both hostile to my transfer.

If my transfer request is delivered in April 2013 to the US DOJ, and accepted in June 2013, it would then be necessary for the Canadian government to accept the transfer – which, if approved, might see me back in Canada by November 2013 to February 2014. I would qualify for immediate statutory release upon my return to Canada, but I would be on parole until February 2015. If I am required to wait until the completion of my sentence here (July 9, 2014), there would be no parole requirements when I am delivered to Canada.

The Justice Department, in refusing my transfer to Canada last April, made reference to the seriousness of my crime (advocating legalization), law enforcement opposition, and the work I was doing on behalf of my fellow inmates and my unrelenting public criticism of D Ray James federal prison, a private prison concentration camp for foreigners that I was housed in before I was transferred to Yazoo. The reasoning for the refusal of my transfer back to Canada dispels any doubt about the politics of my imprisonment.

Despite President Obama’s promise of "Hope" and "Change", things aren’t getting better for the cannabis culture under his administration. Evidence can be seen in the official response to the most popular petition, which gathered 74,169 signatures urging the legalization of marijuana, and seven other cannabis-related petitions that reached the threshold for a response. This answer came from the White House Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, former Seattle Police Chief, in the expected unsatisfactory way:

What We Have to Say About Legalizing Marijuana

By Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug's effects.

According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health- the world's largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20's.

Simply put, it is not a benign drug.

Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

That is why the President's National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities. Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. And, as we've seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer.

We're also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.

Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $9 billion on drug related law enforcement in the U.S.

Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President's approach to drug control to learn more.

National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Marijuana Facts (ONDCP)
Drug Abuse Warning Network (HHS)
Treatment Episode Data Set (HHS)
National Survey on Drug Use and Health (HHS)

Kerlikowske says "science" and "facts" will guide the policy, not "ideology" and "politics", then proceeds to ignore any science and medical comparison and sticks entirely to politics and ideology – the ideology of prohibition!

The petition request to legalize marijuana, and the request for my pardon, both need to be seen in regard to certain facts. Not only have Canadian Prime Ministers Paul Martin (pot brownies), Pierre Trudeau (hashish), Kim Campbell (marijuana), and Premiers Ralph Klein (of Alberta), Jean Charest (of Quebec), Glen Clark (of BC), and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson – plus many others – variously smoked, grown, eaten, and enjoyed marijuana, but a host of prominent elected US officials have also done the same, including President Obama, who commented in his book "Dreams from My Father – A Story of race and Inheritance" that "Pot had helped, and booze: and maybe a little blow when you could afford it… and if the high didn't solve whatever it was that was getting you down, it could at least help you laugh at the world's ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism."

Read Kerlikowske's response to the legalization petition and see if you can spot 1) hypocrisy, 2) bullshit, and 3) cheap moralism.

The hypocrisy is that the health hazards of marijuana, even the trivial ones he mentions, pale in comparison to the health hazards of hundreds of legal, sanctioned consumed substances like tobacco, alcohol, prescription drugs, fatty foods, over the counter medicines, etc. There are no known fatalities from cannabis consumption, making it one of the safest consumables on the planet considering peanuts, sesame seeds, numerous flowers, nuts, seeds, gourds, fish, shellfish, and other foods can kill certain people from allergic reactions. Sugars, salts, preservatives and additives in our food chain are much more hazardous than cannabis.

The bullshit is that for being involved in cannabis you can serve 5, 10, 15, 20 years or even life in prison, a punishment that is barbaric and extraordinarily cruel because all the hazards inherent in cannabis use result from the government policy of prohibition of cannabis. All the cartel violence, the full prisons, the lucrative corruption of police, prisons, teenagers, the poor, the blacks, Latinos, all who get seduced into the world of growing and selling cannabis do so because of the prohibition on the legal production, sale and use of marijuana.

In my drug abuse prevention class here at Yazoo prison, I asked this question; "Would any of us be here, guards or prisoners, if all these substances were sold legally at retail outlets throughout the community? Isn't this a tragedy and crisis manufactured exclusively by government policy? Doesn't the US criminal justice system put us behind bars for these huge lengths of time because that's precisely the intent? Doesn't the evidence of the last 40 years show anyone looking that prohibition is designed to fill prisons, bankrupt the nation, create gangs and gang violence, diminish our civil liberties and consolidate a police state?"

Needless to say, this line of questioning was regarded as heresy and I was advised to be less vocal about these ideas.

To support this prohibition you have to support evil behavior, the virtual destruction of peaceful society, the depraved violence we see afflicting Mexico, Columbia, our inner cities, the Nazi-like violence by urban SWAT police (over 100 SWAT raids happen each and every day in America), the packed prisons, and the despair and utter heartbreak of millions of American families. Since 1970, over 12 million Americans have been incarcerated for drug use, production or distribution. Each of these 12 million had dozens of family members and loved ones who are also greatly impacted.

What, one must ask, is the point in all this? How can President Obama continue such a prohibition policy when two decades of books, news reports, statistics, dozens of former Presidents throughout the world saying "end prohibition", millions of horror stories and packed jails scream of the failure of prohibition to achieve any desirable goals. In fact, the obvious road of prohibition is to make a decaying police state out of the entire planet!

Prohibition is a corrupt, barbaric and intentional deception. Those, like Kerlikowske, who support it, absolutely know this. President Obama knows the prohibition policy is the death of black America. One in four black Americans are entwined in the revolving doors of the US criminal justice system – in prison, on probation, supervised release, parole, on bail – almost exclusively for drug and drug-related offenses. Certainly 80% of the inmates here at Yazoo federal prison are black Americans, virtually all here for drugs, and guns with drugs. It is the new Jim Crow laws brought to bear after the Civil Rights Act in 1964 finally did what the Emancipation Proclamation did not do100 years later – free the black man and ended slavery.

But there is still slavery. It's here. Prison USA.

At the risk of saying it will take a great white man, Ron Paul, to free millions of black Americans in November 2012, the petitions to legalize marijuana and pardon me give President Obama a chance to re-affirm what he believes. Is it the Obama who wrote "Dreams of my Father", or the Obama who is ramping up the drug war in medical marijuana states to new extremes?

It is the DEA press release issued on the day of my arrest that President Obama is directly endorsing if he keeps me in jail. The DEA press release is specific about why I am in jail, and explains clearly that if you talk about and work towards legalization successfully, they'll invade your country and bring you to their prohibition prison system.

The DEA press release did not ever say I was arrested for selling seeds. The word "seeds" was never used in the DEA press release. What was mentioned over and over again was legalization. Use the word "seeds" in the same press release with "drug kingpin" and what you have is absurdity – albeit a cruel depraved nightmare absurdity that we all get to inhabit, but especially me, and others imprisoned like me.

The DEA tried to ignore and refute the press release but the truth had been exposed. If the reasons the DEA gave for jailing me were so corrupt and embarrassing that they pretend that release doesn’t exist, what does this say about a President and government that agree with the same immoral and anti-democratic edicts that keep me imprisoned? Answer: it says everything.

Under federal legislation in the United States, the DEA is mandated to use whatever means necessary anywhere in the world to combat any person or organization that promotes the legalization of marijuana. It said so right at the bottom of the DEA letterhead the press release was sent out on.

When police smash into homes and terrorize taxpayers and families, shooting people and pets, all over something the majority do not believe should be a crime under law, then we should remember that our leaders, Prime Minister Harper, President Obama, and Mexican President Calderon, favor this sort of carnage and abuse by allowing it to continue.

We must ask ourselves what kind of government would enter into perpetual war against its own people. What type of government denies sick people a medicine, a plant that improves their lives and diminishes misery? What kind of government obstructs scientific research into the truly incredible and scientifically documented healing properties of marijuana? The answers to these questions are obvious and not pretty.

The DEA, who no doubt was the principal bulwark against my transfer to the Canadian prison system, tells us in their own hackneyed words (see DEA Tandy's press release once again) that I was jailed for expressing an idea. The expression of that idea – the legalization of cannabis – is specifically mentioned in that DEA mandate we've all read. This federal laws gives the DEA the legal right to go anywhere in the world to combat legalization initiatives and activities, in the same way the CIA has authority to overthrow governments around the world (Iran 1953, South Vietnam 1965, Chile 1973, Panama 1984). The DEA has offices and agents active in over 90 countries, including Canada, Mexico, Colombia, and Afghanistan.

Essentially the DEA has been given eternal wartime powers on a global scale to fight the demonized herb cannabis. According to US law, any country can be invaded to stop any threat of legalization, just as any state or city or town or US community can be. Most of the world is unaware of this fact. So if Obama refuses the petition to pardon me, he reaffirms this mandate of manifest destiny when he thus says I'll stay in a US federal prison for expressing an idea.

Only an evil nature can support, approve and perpetuate evil acts. And as Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said about new laws requiring mandatory minimum jail sentences for as few as six marijuana plants, "this is just the beginning." If putting a Canadian in jail for 6, 9, or 12 months for six plants is "just the beginning", try to imagine the "end".

These sadistic politicians and their lackeys do not inhabit the same reality that we civilized people do. Until we understand and publicize this fact, we give them victory by default. Remember, majorities in Canada and the United States support the legalization of marijuana. At least 55% of Canadians want legal marijuana, and now 50% of Americans want legal marijuana.

This is why we fight. It is the right, we are the majority, the enemy is pure evil, and we have a world to rescue from darkness.

Marc Scott Emery
P.O. BOX 5888