Pubdate: Tues, 20 April 1999
Source: Vancouver Province (Canada)
Copyright: The Province, Vancouver 1999
Author: Jack Keating, Staff Reporter
Note: Renee Boje's website is


The fight to keep a 29-year-old California woman from being deported to the
U.S. to face marijuana-related charges began yesterday in B.C. Supreme Court
in Vancouver.

"She's a refugee from the American war on drugs," lawyer John Conroy said of
Renee Boje's bid to stay in Canada.

Boje, an advocate of medicinal marijuana, was caught up in a high-profile
case in Los Angeles in 1997 when Todd McCormick, also a medicinal-marijuana
advocate, was caught growing pot at a Bel Air mansion. He said he grew it to
relieve the pain of cancer.

The use of marijuana for medical purposes became legal in California in
1996, but federal authorities are fighting the law.

The U.S. government's formal request for extradition to California, where
Boje would face a minimum 10 years in jail if convicted, was made yesterday
before Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm.

Dohm adjourned the case to May 5 to set a date for the extradition hearing,
which is being fought on grounds that Boje would face cruel and unusual
punishment in California.

Conroy said similar charges here would result in a fine and/or a minimal
jail sentence. He also pointed to two recent reports by the United Nations
and Amnesty International that condemn "the systematic abuse of female
prisoners" in the U.S.

Boje said she was held for 72 hours at the Federal Corrections Facility for
Women in downtown Los Angeles, where she was strip-searched 15 times. Two of
the searches were done in the presence of male officers, who made lewd and
threatening remakrs, she said.

Boje, who is free on $5,000 bond, said: "I am hoping that Canada will
provide me a safe haven, as it did for the conscientious objectors to the
Vietnam War."

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