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Some Americans crossing the border are wanted for breaking U.S. marijuana laws. The Bush people are pressuring Canada to return them so they may be cruelly and excessively punished.


Who are the refugees from the US?
December 18, 2002 thepeoplesvoice.org

By the Editor

The ominous changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act give effect to a refugee pact negotiated between Canada’s government and the Bush administration last summer and initialed in early December. The Orwellian name given this so called pact is the "Safe Third-Country Agreement.” It provides for the routine return of refugee claimants from Canada to America, and from America to Canada. It all sounds harmless enough, but what if Canada or America had made the “Safe Third-Country Agreement” with Russia during the cold war, a time when Russia also persecuted it’s people for seeking freedoms denied them in their own country. We would have sent thousands of Russian refugees back to a repressive system to face swift and draconian punishment.

Last year, only a few hundred people who entered the US from Canada actually applied for refugee status, but thousands of American citizens have crossed the border into Canada in recent months following clampdowns ordered by attorney general, John Ashcroft. 

The white House is ignoring the will of the people by shutting down medicinal marijuana clubs that exist in states where voters have passed measures approving them. These clubs provide marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, Aids, multiple sclerosis and glaucoma and whose doctors have suggested the use of the drug.

This is not about saving Americans from the evils of Marijuana, it’s about corporate drug company profits and the elimination of the competition. Bush is spending 19 billion tax dollars each year on his so-called drug war against the American people. Much of the money goes to arresting and incarcerating Americans for smoking pot. The tobacco, liquor, and drug companies spend millions in Washington each year lobbying to keep the draconian prohibition era drug laws in place.

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that Californians who grow or use marijuana for personal medicinal needs are protected from prosecution in state courts if they have approval. But the federal government is fiercely opposed to this and is continuing its prosecutions in federal courts.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently raided medicinal marijuana clubs in LA and San Francisco, a process upheld by the notorious US Supreme court five. Many who cross the border are wanted in America for marijuana violations and US authorities are pressuring Canadian law enforcement to send them back to be punished.
The moves come as Canada, like the UK, is liberalizing its laws on cannabis.

One of the best-known American fugitives in Canada is Renee Boje, whom the US wishes to extradite to stand trial for cultivating cannabis plants at the home of Todd McCormick, a cancer patient and medicinal marijuana activist in LA. She had watered the plants on his behalf. "I'm a member of a class of society they're trying to oppress or wipe out completely," Renee Boje told the online news network, AlterNet from her home in Vancouver, British Columbia. If convicted, she faces a minimum sentence of ten years. The length of that sentence is part of her plea that she faces unjust persecution if she were to return home. "There are hundreds of Americans here because they are being persecuted by their own government."

Another American, Steve Kubby, the Libertarian Party's 1998 candidate for governor of California, and Ken Hayes, who operated the 6th Street Harm Reduction Centre in San Francisco, have also entered Canada. Kubby, who has adrenal cancer, faces a 120-day jail term for drug possession. Additional charges, filed since he arrived in Canada, of conspiring to grow more than 1,000 plants, mean that he could face a sentence of ten years or more. Both men have now formally claimed refugee status under the UN refugee convention on the grounds that they have a "well-founded fear of persecution" in the US. Canadian immigration officials have allowed them to stay while their status is determined in court.

"US officials have violated the law and intentionally targeted the leaders of the medical marijuana movement by using conspiracy charges," said Kubby. "I'm being threatened with a death sentence. How can anyone justify that and say it's not an attempt to persecute me?"

Their claims have been attacked by the White House drugs policy adviser Robert Maginnis who said on Canadian TV: "Providing sanctuary to some of these people who see Canada as an easy place to escape the long leash of US law enforcement is dangerous ... I would hope that the Canadian government would see fit to send them back to the US so they can face charges."

President Bush shows no sign of yielding, instead he has chosen to harden his stance. In May, announcing the appointment of a drug czar who makes John Ashcroft look like a hippie, Bush thundered, "John Walters and I believe the only humane and compassionate response to drug use is a moral refusal to accept it. We emphatically disagree with those who favor drug legalization."

According to the Federation of American Scientists, Marijuana arrests and Incarceration in the United States have now reached more than 700,000 people each year, more than the number of arrests for all violent crimes combined, with an average of 42,500 people incarcerated on a continuous basis. The official estimate of this self-inflicted carnage is $1.2 billion dollars each year.

Humane and compassionate?

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