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Registered: 07/26/04
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Boje, 'Drug War Refugee', could get 10 years
    #4310622 - 06/18/05 12:53 PM (11 years, 4 months ago)

'Drug War Refugee' could get 10 years
June 18, 2005 - canada.com

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler has ordered the extradition of a woman who faces trial in California for tending marijuana plants at the Cannabis Castle, a Bel Air mansion that served as one of the state's first medical marijuana grow-ops in the 1990s.

Renee Boje, 35, who has a Canadian husband and young son, surrendered herself yesterday to court officials in British Columbia. She was granted bail while pursuing judicial review of Mr. Cotler's decision. That process will postpone her extradition until at least the end of September.

The American citizen sought refugee status in Canada in 1998 following her arrest on drug trafficking charges -- charges she believes exaggerated her role in the medicinal marijuana project.

In B.C., Ms. Boje helped found a club that delivered medical marijuana to cancer and AIDS victims on the Sunshine Coast; she married Chris Bennett, manager of the POT-TV website, and gave birth to a son, Shiva, in 2002.

Ms. Boje's many defenders -- author Noam Chomsky, filmmaker Michael Moore and actor Woody Harrelson are among those who have written letters of support -- have cast her as a pawn in the misguided U.S. war against drugs.

Her lawyer, John Conroy, argued she was the victim of political persecution in the U.S. because of her views on medical marijuana. He also told Mr. Cotler that she would suffer cruel and unusual punishment if returned because of the harsh U.S. approach to marijuana offences and a prison system rife with violence.

Ms. Boje, he said, would face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted for taking part in the medical marijuana project launched by two California cancer victims. In Canada, the same kind of offences draw a maximum sentence of two years in jail, Mr. Conroy said.

Mr. Cotler, however, rejected all of the arguments presented on behalf of Ms. Boje, including her contention that she smoked marijuana in keeping with her Gnostic faith.

"If Ms. Boje is not surrendered, Canada would be denying our extradition partner's treaty request and allowing Ms. Boje to escape trial," Mr. Cotler concluded in his 19-page decision made public yesterday.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Ms. Boje's husband, Chris Bennett, said the family was deeply disappointed by Mr. Cotler's "narrow" decision.

"It was pretty disheartening: the decision takes no account of human rights or her personal situation," he said. "This is a decision based purely on trade interests with the Americans," Mr. Bennett charged. "He (Mr. Cotler) has bought into a witch hunt to assure trade."

Mr. Cotler noted that since Ms. Boje does not have a criminal record, she will not be subject to the 10-year minimum sentence if convicted of the drug offences.

The justice minister also rejected the argument that Ms. Boje should be allowed to stay in Canada since her actions were legal in California at the time. In 1996, California had adopted the Compassionate Use Act, legislation that allowed those with their doctor's approval to grow marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Ms. Boje, a freelance artist, had been hired that same year to illustrate two books on medical marijuana being written by Peter McWilliams and Todd McCormick. The men had become advocates after using the drug to relieve the nausea that accompanied their cancer treatments.

Ms. Boje believed her involvement in their medical marijuana project was therefore legal.

But when federal drug authorities raided Mr. McCormick's Cannabis Castle in July 1997, more than 4,000 marijuana plants were removed. (Mr. Cotler noted the plants could produce about three kilograms of marijuana.)

Mr. McCormick and Mr. McWilliams argued that they needed that many plants to conduct cross-breeding experiments, but law enforcement officials insisted the operation greatly exceeded anything required for personal use.

The men eventually pleaded guilty to drug offences. Mr. McWilliams died before serving jail time.

Ms. Boje was charged with conspiracy to manufacture and distribute marijuana on the strength of evidence from a police surveillance team that said that she was observed watering and moving plants.

Mr. Cotler said Ms. Boje was wrong to believe her actions were sanctioned by the law since only those individuals with a medical recommendation for marijuana could be involved in its manufacture and use. "Even if Ms. Boje mistakenly believed that what she was doing was legal, mistake of law is not a defence under American or Canadian law," he wrote.

On her website, Ms. Boje says her case represents an important precedent for other "drug war refugees."

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Re: Boje, 'Drug War Refugee', could get 10 years [Re: veggie]
    #4313301 - 06/19/05 10:21 AM (11 years, 4 months ago)

Fuck ya, I posted this a few months ago and it didn't get many replies but I hope people listen up now. I've seen Renee around the marijuana party bookstore (I think she runs the ethno shop in there) and if she's running an ethno shop you know she's cool. :grin:


There's a letter there you can send to the minister of justice.


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Re: Boje, 'Drug War Refugee', could get 10 years [Re: Wysefool]
    #4315338 - 06/19/05 11:51 PM (11 years, 4 months ago)

wow someone helping other people from pain and suffering is going to go to jail for ten years while a 28yr old man rapes a 8 year old gets out in 9.........everything is so messed up.



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Re: Boje, 'Drug War Refugee', could get 10 years [Re: veggie]
    #4578810 - 08/25/05 02:24 PM (11 years, 2 months ago)

'It's a serious sovereignty issue'
August 25, 2005 - northshoreoutlook.com

A Deep Cove woman who faces a minimum 10-year U.S. prison sentence for allegedly moving and watering marijuana plants at a Bel Air, California residence eight years ago, is appealing an extradition order from the U.S government.

"I face something that's incredibly scary, " says Renee Boje. "It's been devastating for me. It's caused a great deal of stress in my life. I feel I don't need to be persecuted in this way."
On July 29, 1997 Boje, a recent graduate from Marymount University, was working on her first freelance arts project illustrating a book called, How to Grow Medical Marijuana.

She claims both the author, Peter McWilliams, and publisher, Todd McCormick who were inflicted with terminal illnesses, had legal prescriptions from the State of California to use marijuana for medical purposes.

"[The police] wanted me to give incriminating evidence against them," Boje said. "They threatened me with a 10-year mandatory sentence and said I could get up to life."

In her submissions to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Boje, who has no prior involvement with the police, claims she was verbally and physically assaulted by U.S. police and corrections officials who she said strip-searched her approximately 15 times.
American authorities report they arrested Boje at 5:30 p.m. that day back in 1997, detaining her at a nearby fire station before taking her to Drug Enforcement Administration headquarters, where standard procedure is to strip-search women in a windowless room if a female agent is available. Boje was later taken to the Metropolitan Detention Centre adjacent to the DEA office at 3:15 a.m. where she was strip-searched by a guard of the same gender in a room with a six-inch square window. At 7:23 a.m. that same morning Boje was taken by the DEA to a nearby courthouse where she was locked up pending a court appearance before a federal judge. Once bail was set, she was again taken to the Metropolitan Detention Centre, which required her to be strip-searched by a female guard in a private area.

After making bail, Boje sought the advice of a lawyer who said, 'if you were my daughter, I would tell you to leave the country.'"
Taking her lawyer's advice, Boje moved to Vancouver in 1998. A year later, the BC Supreme Court ordered her to surrender to U.S. authorities. Boje appealed the decision and her case sat in the Minister of Justice's office for five years.

"I had to move on with my life," Boje told The North Shore Outlook Monday. "I couldn't put my life on hold because of this issue."
While living in Vancouver, Boje met Cannabis activist Chris Bennett, whom she married. Now a wife and mother of a three-year-old Canadian son, Boje resides in Deep Cove and runs the Urban Shaman, an herbal store in Vancouver.

"After I gave birth to my son it changed everything," Boje said. "I have nightmares of being separated from him. It would have a severe impact on his overall well-being. I would like to just put this behind me.

"I'm a peaceful woman. I feel like I've done nothing wrong."
But on June 15 of this year, Irwin Cotler, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, signed the warrants ordering the surrender of Boje to the U.S. to stand trial.

In his decision, Cotler declined to refuse Boje's surrender on the basis that it would be unjust or oppressive.

"While Ms. Boje's personal circumstances are factors I have considered, they must be weighed against Canada's international commitments," Cotler stated in his decision. "Her circumstances are not uncommon. It cannot be said, in this particular case that Ms. Boje would face a situation that is sufficiently shocking to the Canadian conscience to render her surrender simply unacceptable."

If convicted, Cotler said Boje's sentence would not be out of proportion with the punishment she would receive for an equivalent Canadian offence, noting the penalty for producing cannabis in Canada is seven years imprisonment.

Boje's lawyer, John Conroy, has applied to the Court of Appeals and is waiting to see if her case will be accepted. Meanwhile, the U.S. is fast-tracking Boje's extradition, leaving her with less than a year to have the case heard if it is accepted.

"It's just so surreal really," Boje said. "I feel like Canada's my home and where I belong and I'm praying the Court of Appeals will show me some compassion."

In an attempt to protest people being persecuted around the world for association with Cannabis, Boje has organized a rally for Sept. 3 at the Vancouver Art Gallery called "Stop the Weed Witchhunts."
Among the speakers attending is BC Marijuana Party leader Marc Emery, who himself currently faces life in prison under a U.S. extradition order for allegedly mailing marijuana seeds across the border.

"I'm trying to bring attention to the fact that there's a lot of women and men being persecuted because of their association with cannabis, which in my opinion is a sacred and healing herb," Boje said. "It's a serious sovereignty issue."

The "Stop the Weed Witchhunts" rally will take place at the art gallery from 2 to 5 p.m. and will finish with a march to the Indonesian Consulate.

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