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Fri Jul 29, 6:58 PM ET
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Police raided the headquarters of the British Columbia Marijuana Party on Friday at the request of U.S. investigators targeting one of Canada's best-known advocates of legalizing marijuana.
U.S. officials have charged Marc Emery, founder of the Marijuana Party, and two other people with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, distribute marijuana seeds and money laundering. The charges are in connection with a business that Emery has operated for years over the Internet from offices in Vancouver, on Canada's Pacific Coast.
Emery, who has been nicknamed the "Prince of Pot," was arrested in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he was on a visit. He is expected to have a hearing in a court in Vancouver next week for extradition proceedings, according to police officials.
Marijuana is a touchy issue in U.S.-Canada relations, with White House officials warning recently that a plan by Ottawa to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot could lead to tighter security on the border.
U.S. officials allege that Emery has sold as much as C$3 million ($2.5 million) in seeds, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.
Demonstrators protested outside the party's offices as police searched using a warrant that called for seizing materials and information, including the names of people who may have applied for work at Emery's business.
"We're disappointed and shocked that Canada would lay down its sovereignty to the United States and allow the United States government's draconian anti-marijuana war to creep into what otherwise was a much more rational system here in Canada," said Kirk Tousaw, the party's campaign manager.
Canadian police said no charges have been filed against Emery under Canadian law, but that they were investigating.
A spokesman for the Vancouver Police Department, Howard Chow, defended raiding the offices at the request of U.S. officials since Emery's seed business and other pro-marijuana activities have been well known for years.
"We received information for the United States and acted accordingly," Chow told reporters.
Emery, a Canadian citizen, founded the B.C. Marijuana Party several years ago. The party has fielded candidates in British Columbia's past two legislative elections but none have won.
The marijuana trade in British Columbia is worth more than C$6 billion annually, with most of the potent "B.C. Bud" grown in the province destined for the United States.