Pubdate: Thu, 01 May 2003
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2003, Canoe Limited Partnership.
Author: Jason Botchford
Bookmark: (Boje, Renee)


For Renee Boje, Canada is freedom.

Facing charges in the U.S. of conspiracy to cultivate and distribute grass,
she fled to Canada five years ago where she has built a blissful life with a
husband and a baby.

"But I have nightmares that haunt me, nightmares that I will be forced to go
back to the U.S.," Boje said.

Boje was arrested in California in 1997 for cultivating medical marijuana
plants. Initially, her charges were dropped. But in May of 1998, nearly ten
months after she was first arrested, Renee's attorney Kenneth Kahn told her
the charges against her would most likely be reinstated.


He advised her to flee to Canada.

"Canada has opened its arms to me," Boje said. "I love the people here. I
love the country. I just never want to go back home."

On February 9, 2000, a B.C. Supreme Court judge ordered Boje to surrender
herself for extradition.

If convicted, she faces a minimum sentence of ten years.

She is out on bail in Vancouver and is appealing to the public to write to
federal Minister of Justice Anne McLellan asking her to intervene. Recently,
Woody Harrelson added his support to the campaign.

In fighting extradition, Boje is arguing that U.S. prisons have become so
brutal that placing her in one for marijuana constitutes punishment that is
too harsh by Canadian standards.

Boje is one of a growing number of "drug war refugees" who are begging
Canada for asylum, asking for something which is rare for citizens of
first-world countries: Political refugee status.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh