Vancouver — The fiancÃ©e of pro-marijuana activist Marc Emery is "terrified" to think what the future holds after her partner was arrested in Halifax on Friday and charged with selling marijuana seeds over the Internet to customers in the United States.
"I think this is a complete outrage," said Cheryl Redick, who lives with the self-proclaimed "prince of pot" in a Vancouver apartment, not far from his hemp store in the city's Gastown district.
The couple's lives have been turned upside down after a U.S. federal grand jury indicted him on charges of conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
Mr. Emery, who is to appear at a bail hearing in Vancouver tomorrow, might be extradited for trial in the United States, where he could receive a jail term ranging from 10 years to life.
Ms. Redick, who talked to her fiancÃ©e by phone for about five minutes Saturday, said he was still in a holding cell in Halifax and sounded depressed.
"It's a very bleak feeling for him right now," she said. "I think he feels scared."
After he was arrested by RCMP officers in Halifax, police in Vancouver burst into the couple's apartment at noon on Friday. They seized Ms. Redick's personal computer and other belongings, including an address book.
Now that Mr. Emery's Internet business -- Emery Seeds -- has been shut down, he will no longer be able to afford lease payments on his Ford Thunderbird and the couple will likely have to move in with relatives, according to Ms. Redick, who runs a furniture design business.
"It's outrageous that the U.S. should be allowed to come into Canada and interfere with our laws."
Two other marijuana activists, Michelle Rainey-Fenkarek and Gregory Williams, were arrested in Vancouver on Friday on the same charges.
Ms. Rainey-Fenkarek has been released on bail, according to Ms. Redick.
Some observers see the charges against the three activists as a sure sign that U.S. drug-enforcement officials are flexing their muscles to stem the flow of B.C. marijuana over the border.
RCMP officers in Halifax were acting on a search warrant signed by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm of the B.C. Supreme Court, who agreed there were reasonable grounds to believe that conspiracy, a charge over which the United States has jurisdiction, had been committed.
The arrests raise the question of how far another country should be allowed to go in trying to influence the way in which Canadian police deal with a substance that many Canadians consider to be an acceptable recreational tool.
"If Mr. Emery was a person who had been suspected of homicide in the U.S., we wouldn't have any problem with what was done at all," said Neil Boyd, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby.
He said Mr. Emery has been able to operate his marijuana seed business for more than a decade in Canada, where pot possession has traditionally not been vigorously policed as a criminal act.
"For us to send Mr. Emery to the U.S. to face what might be life imprisonment would seem to me to be ceding a certain amount of our sovereignty in terms of how we want to see Canadian citizens treated for certain kinds of behaviour."
Prof. Boyd said the arrest of a high-profile Canadian marijuana advocate is an indication that the United States is out of step with Britain and other European countries, which have been moving to decriminalize pot possession.
"Holland has been a regulator of marijuana for over 30 years," he added.
In addition to running his business, Mr. Emery leads the B.C. Marijuana Party and, according to his fiancÃ©e, has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money to help heroin and cocaine addicts .
He has four children from previous marriages.