In a heartless decision, and unlike 3 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 to life sentence for her involvement in a medical marijuana growing operation in California, shortly after the state of California legalized medical use of marijuana.
Cotler's decisicon is available on line at http://americanmarijuana.org/boje/
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. Finally, the decision fails to even mention the recent US Supreme Court decision allowing federal prosecutions against persons who were legally entitled to grow marijuana under state law and the US government rhetoric in the wake of that decision expressly claiming that marijuana had no medical value.
Renee Boje's trials and tribulations began after California medical marijuana activist 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 so she fled 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 4 years in jail without access to the only medicine which eased his pain from his medical condition.
Disallowing any differences in 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 Vancouver Federal 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.