Pubdate: Thu, 25 Aug 2005
Source: Outlook, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2005 The Outlook
Author: Jennifer Maloney
Bookmark: (Boje, Renee)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Emery, Marc)


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

"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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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin