Renee Boje Ordered Extradited Over Medical Pot

A Canadian Justice Minister has ordered Renee Boje extradited to the U.S. to begin serving a ten year mandatory sentence for a medical marijuana growing operation in California that occurred shortly after the state of California legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Marijuana activists have been following her case for many years and are very disappointed with the decision.

American refugee Renee Boje has just been ordered to turn herself over to Canadian court officials for deportation back to the USA to stand trial. This action is the result of Renee's appeal being denied by the Canadian Justice Minister, Irwin Colter , who has also signed an extradition order for the return of Renee to the U.S.

Renee has been ordered to surrender on Friday morning, 8.30 a.m. to a Canadian court for arrest and deportation to the US to stand trial on charges of co-conspiracy to grow 4,000 plants. Her alleged co-conspirators Peter McWilliams died waiting trial and Todd McCormack is out of jail after serving five years for his part in the Bel Air grow op.

You can read the decision here. (pdf). Here is the press release from her attorney, which I hope you will all read (link fixed)(Received by e-mail):

" In a heartless decision, and unlike 2 preceding Justice Ministers, Irwin Cotler released a negative decision yesterday in the Boje Extradition case. Renee Boje, who is married to a Canadian citizen and is the mother of a Canadian son, is being sent back to US authorities to serve a ten year mandatory minimum to life sentence for her involvement in a medical marijuana growing operation in California, shortly after the state of California legalized marijuana for medical purposes.

Mr. Cotler, a purported champion of human rights, ignored evidence that Ms. Boje would be subject to cruel and unusual punishment and treatment at the hands of US federal authorities. Mr. Cotler also ignored the fact that Ms. Boje will be prevented from arguing that her actions were legal under California law and that the marijuana being grown was for medical purposes.

....Renee Boje's trials and tribulations began after California medical marijuana activist and cancer patient Todd McCormick was arrested growing thousands of cannabis plants in a rented Bel Air home in the summer of 1997. Inspired by the recent passage of Proposition 215 that effectively legalized medical marijuana in the state, McCormick began growing the plants as part of his research for a book he was working on, "How to Grow Medical Marijuana."

Renee was initially arrested along with a number of other people on the premises, but her charges were later dropped. In 1998, Renee's lawyer advised her that the charges against her were about to be reinstated and recommended that she leave the US. Renee relocated to the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia and eventually filed for refugee status. Renee offered to return to the US and stand trial if the former US Attorney General Janet Reno would drop the charges against co-defendant Peter McWilliams, who was dying of AIDS. Tragically, the US Federal authorities denied Peter his legal right to use medical marijuana, a proven powerful anti-nauseant, and Peter died alone in his apartment from choking on his own vomit.

The other defendant, cancer survivor Todd McCormick, was convicted and spent 5 years in Federal Prison without access to the only medicine which eased his pain from his medical condition. McCormick was forced to plead guilty in order to avoid a possible life sentence and so that he might pursue an appeal of the court decision that refused to allow him to introduce evidence of his medical need for marijuana(the appeal was unsuccessful and US defendants are not even entitled to bring evidence of medical need or use when defending federal charges).

Ignoring the glaring differences between Canadian and US law, Irwin Cotler has rendered a decision that has devastated Mrs. Boje and her Canadian family. With the current ban on all things marijuana related from the US, Boje's Canadian husband, who has no criminal record, cannot even travel into America purely based on his association with cannabis activism and his wife's high profile case. If Renee is extradited, she will be effectively cut off from her family, based solely on their political and religious beliefs.

Mrs Boje, her husband Chris Bennett and son Shiva will be appearing at the BC Supreme Court House, 800 West Smithe St at 8:30 am to surrender herself to the authorities, the decision will be read in court at 9:30 am and the Boje family and their lawyer hope to see bail granted while they challenge this unjust and devastating decision.


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  • It's time to stand up for our rights as civilians. I have come to the opinion that if the government can't keep drugs from being readily available without making us a police state, then you can't punish citizens for consuming and getting addicted to substances that are literally marketed in grade through highschools, in bars and clubs, in every project and impovershed community, at parties and workplaces and 7-11s and street corners. The "war on drugs" has justified asset confiscation, appallingly unjust prison sentences and the trading of info for "get out of jail" deals for the real bad guys. The hunting and gunning down of teenage gang members, roadblocks, the termination of parental rights and/or custody and the denial of IMMENSE (you'll just have to trust me on this one) relief from many, many medical ailments and symptoms. Let's have a national experiment. Legalize and tax marijuana. Prescribe it. Grow it in Afghanistan and Bolivia for God's sake and import it. Tax the hell out of it and serve it at Starbucks (wait...having orgasmic moment...okay : ) ). Let 50 or 100,000 pot smokers and sellers out of jail. I don't know how many there are. 100,000 times lets say avg (conservative) of $50K prosecution and incarceration costs equals.... 5 Billion Dollars. We could arm our soldiers and buy them fake arms and legs to buy the ones getting blown off as we speak. Perhaps Amnesty Int'l. could start a fund.

    Re: Renee Boje Ordered Extradited Over Medical Pot (none / 0) (#2)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:08 PM EST
    Thanks for posting this, TL. The link above to the Justice Minister's decision (*.pdf) was chopped and didn't work...here is the unbroken link. More here. On reading the decision, it seems the hurdle to defeat extradition is pretty high...like the Supreme Court in Raich, the Canadians seem forced to conclude that the U.S's draconian drug laws against cannabis are stupid but legally valid. Like Tommy Chong, it's clear that a mean-spirited DEA is singling out Boje for disproportionate punishment to send a "signal", like the persecution of author Peter McWilliams with whom she was allied (as a children's book artist). I guess the only good in this is that, like usual, the feds have chosen an appropriate poster child for martyrdom in the person of the charming, pixieish Ms. Boje. You can read more about Boje's plight here and donate to her legal defense fund if you are so moved.

    Re: Renee Boje Ordered Extradited Over Medical Pot (none / 0) (#3)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:09 PM EST
    Gimme a T...Gimme a Y Tyranny folks, pure and simple. How else can you explain putting a peace loving, compassionate woman in chains for 5 years or more?

    Re: Renee Boje Ordered Extradited Over Medical Pot (none / 0) (#4)
    by Jlvngstn on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:09 PM EST
    Great, for attempted murder a man gets a 7 year sentence, for growing pot for the ailing, they want a ten year sentence. Where is RA on this?

    One problem with the med marijuana argument is the sneaking suspicion that it is just being used as a subterfuge for legalization. This case proves the point-4000 plants for medicinal purposes? That doesn't pass any sniff test. off point, why does anyone think Canada wants to become a haven for our criminals?

    Re: Renee Boje Ordered Extradited Over Medical Pot (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:10 PM EST
    She was part of a medical mj collective ED, 4000 plants to provide medicine to many patients. I'd love to hear your thoughts as to why it is imperative to the well being of society to chain and cage this woman for 5 years.

    sorry-I just not naive enough to buy it. As to her sentence, is it imperative to the well being of society to lock her up-probably not but I could say the same about many imprisoned for crimes even more serious. Will I shed any tears if she's convicted-No.

    Re: Renee Boje Ordered Extradited Over Medical Pot (none / 0) (#8)
    by jackl2400 on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:00:13 PM EST
    (for Ed, apologies to M. Niemoeller) First they came for the hippie pot smokers, and I did not speak out because I was not a hippie pot smoker, Then they came for the medimar patients and those who assisted them, and I did not speak out because I was not a medimar patient, etc. etc. Pffffft to you Ed, and your callous lack of empathy and regard for justice.

    Ed- I'm sorry, but you're mistaken. Your safeguards against naivete have led to cynicism, methinks! Todd McCormick and his coalition were growing medicine for literally hundreds of Californians who were entitled to do so under state law and with the permission of their doctor. Mr. McCormick was also researching different strains to document which types seemed to work best for different ailments. He was writing a book, and Renee Boje was the illustrator. She also watered the plants once in a while. Your lack of sympathy only tells me that you don't have all the facts. To both Americans and Canadians, please take a minute to write Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and let him know that Canada should not cooperate with anti-democratic policy, namely the DEA overriding the will of the people in those states where med mj is legal. Tell him it is "shocking to your conscience" that this young family will be torn apart for a decade at least. (In his decision, Cotler claims that most Canadians would NOT find it "shocking to their conscience") Justice Minister Irwin Cotler's email: Cotler.I@parl.gc.ca Thanks!