VANCOUVER - Canada's self-styled "Prince of Pot" was ordered extradited to the United States on Monday, ending his high-profile five-year battle to avoid U.S. drug charges related to his Canadian seed-selling business.
The federal Justice Department announced that the minister had signed off on Marc Emery's extradition to Washington state.
Emery could be turned over to American authorities within days.
As he surrendered himself to sheriffs in Vancouver earlier in the day, not yet sure whether he would be extradited, Emery urged his supporters to punish the Conservative government if he ended up in the U.S.
"I think the best thing that could happen to our movement is that the minister decides, foolishly, to extradite me. Canadians will be very, very angry and punish this government," Emery told reporters, his wife by his side and supporters carrying "Free Marc" placards standing behind him.
"If I'm extradited, I've told my supporters that every Conservative member of Parliament is to be hounded endlessly and unmercifully until they are defeated in the next or following elections. It's to be a life project for them as long as I am incarcerated in the United States or Canada."
Emery had been out on bail since last fall, when he was released from custody as the federal justice minister considered whether to allow the extradition.
By Monday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson had made up his mind.
"The minister ordered the surrender of Mr. Marc Emery to the United States," department spokeswoman Carole Saindon said in a brief email statement, adding the minister wouldn't be commenting further.
Emery was charged by a U.S. grand jury in 2005. American prosecutors allege he has sold about four million marijuana seeds through his magazine and website, and that 75 per cent of those went to customers in the U.S.
Last year, he reached a deal with American prosecutors to plead guilty. In exchange, he was given a five-year prison sentence and his two co-accused received probation.
An official with the United States Attorney's Office in Seattle declined to comment until Emery is on American soil.
One of Emery's lawyers, Kirk Tousaw, said Emery would be applying to serve his sentence in a Canadian prison.
"The United States has already agreed to support Mr. Emery's treaty transfer back to Canada to serve his sentence here," Tousaw, a former Marijuana Party campaign manager, said in an interview. "We certainly would anticipate the minister of public safety would agree."
Emery had fought the extradition in court, but after reaching the plea agreement said he'd give up that fight. That didn't stop him and his supporters from urging the federal government to block the extradition.
The Justice Department statement notes Emery could ask the B.C. Court of Appeal to review the decision. Tousaw wouldn't say whether he's considering that option.
Documents obtained by Emery's lawyer reveal that a U.S. undercover agent posing as a marijuana seed buyer worked in Canada to secure the criminal charges filed against Emery in Washington state.
A briefing memo to the justice minister dated Feb. 10, 2010, said U.S. undercover agents made numerous mail-order purchases between March 2004 and March 2005, and an undercover U.S. Drug Enforcement agent was then sent to Vancouver under the supervision and approval of Vancouver's police department.
The documents say the agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration made several deals to purchase marijuana seeds in exchange for cash and that Emery knew she was going to smuggle the seeds over the border.
Emery is a longtime advocate for the legalization of marijuana, having been arrested more than a dozen times across the country and once spending a three-month stint in Saskatoon CorrectionalCentre.
He has run for office numerous times as president of the B.C. Marijuana Party, publishes Cannabis Culture Magazine and owns the Cannabis Culture store in Vancouver, which sells marijuana paraphernalia.
Emery has never denied sending seeds through the mail.
"I think of myself as a great Canadian — I've worked my whole life for individual freedom in this country, I've never asked for anything in return," Emery told reporters.
"And now I will be possibly handed over to the United States for a five-year sentence for the so-called crime of selling seeds from my desk to consenting adults all over the world and the United States. I'm proud of what I've done, and I have no regrets."