Rene Bojee Case Could Bring Scrutiny To American Policy

Date: Wed, 20 Oct 1999
Subject: Renee Boje Case Could Bring Scrutiny To American Policy

Rene Boje Case Could Bring Scrutiny To American Marijuana Policy



DrugSense FOCUS Alert #132 October 20, 1999

Renee Boje Case Could Bring Scrutiny To American Marijuana Policy

American marijuana laws are about to go on trial in Canada thanks to
the efforts of a woman who is fighting extradition from the U.S.
neighbor. Renee Boje’s trouble with the law stems from the same
federal “conspiracy” charges that have been used to persecute
outspoken medical marijuana activists Peter McWilliams and Todd
McCormick. Renee faces a mandatory sentence of ten years to life in
prison, so she hopes to remain in Canada to protect her rights as a
human being.

While Renee’s role in the story has gotten some coverage in Canada,
the American media is now picking up on it. This week the Christian
Science Monitor published an article (below) that used Renee Boje’s
fight to stay in Canada as a focal point to explore contrasting
attitudes toward marijuana in the two nations.

While the CSM story (below) summarizes Renee’s case, more details are
available at her website from the
MAP news archive at and
from a High Times website article at

It is absurd that the federal government would use all its
considerable resources to extradite someone who didn’t deserve to be
arrested in the first place. Please write a letter to the Christian
Science Monitor to protest this attack on a woman who hurt no one, and
to further highlight the cruel absurdity of American marijuana policy.

Thanks for your effort and support.


It’s not what others do it’s what YOU do


Phone, fax etc.)

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so others can learn from your efforts and be motivated to follow suit

This is VERY IMPORTANT as it is the only way we have of gauging our
impact and effectiveness.



Source: Christian Science Monitor



Visit Renee’s website and learn how to offer moral/financial support:


Canada and US In Drug Debate
Pubdate: Tue, 19 Oct 1999
Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)
Copyright: 1999 The Christian Science Publishing Society.
Address: One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115
Fax: (617) 450-2031
Author: Ruth Walker Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor


A US woman seeks political asylum in Canada, claiming persecution in
marijuana case.

By Ruth Walker Staff writer of The Christian Science

A US woman wanted in California for conspiring to sell marijuana is
fighting extradition from Canada on the grounds that she is a
political refugee – from the war on drugs.

Her belief in the medicinal value of marijuana makes her in effect a
member of a persecuted group, her lawyer argues.

This case is more than an unprecedented legal gambit. It also
illustrates the contradictory laws and enduring sensitivity of
marijuana as a public issue in the United States and Canada.

It’s been nearly three years since Golden State voters approved a new
law allowing medicinal use of cannabis. But questions about how sick
people are to be supplied with their newly legal medicine remain to be
resolved, and US federal authorities remain adamant in their
opposition to state laws such as California’s Proposition 215, the
Compassionate Use Act. Prosecutions for distribution of marijuana continue.

And so Renee Boje, arrested in 1997 in the Bel Air, Calif., home of
Todd McCormick, a high-profile advocate of medicinal marijuana, has
been charged with conspiracy to distribute the drug, an offense
carrying a sentence of 10 years to life. She faces an extradition
hearing Nov. 1 in Vancouver.

“She’s caught in the cross-fire of the war on drugs,” says Maury
Mason, her spokesman, in Roberts Creek, British Columbia.

Political Factor

A US official requesting anonymity calls the use of the term
“political asylum” by Ms. Boje’s advocates “an artificial way of
casting the discussion,” but acknowledges, “There’s always a major
political element in a drug case.”

But Boje’s lawyer, John Conroy, of Abbotsford, British Columbia,
insists, “It’s not a stretch to say that it’s a political issue.” The
severity of the sentence she faces if convicted indicates an “unjust
and oppressive” justice system, Mr. Conroy argues. He suggests that
the charge she would face if the case were playing out in Canada would
be “aiding and abetting cultivation” of the drug – with a maximum
sentence of seven years.

Mr. Mason, a former media director for the environmental group
Greenpeace, says the campaign on Boje’s behalf has two purposes, “One,
to get her off, and two, to send a message to the US: Take a look at
your own drug policy.”

But the Boje case is unfolding at a time when Canada is going through
its own struggle over the issue of medical marijuana. Currently,
those wishing to use the drug legally for medicinal purposes – to
alleviate pain or control side effects from other drugs – must apply
to the federal health minister in Ottawa. Getting permission has been
widely deemed cumbersome and bureaucratic, a process in which he has
broad, if not complete, discretion. This month 14 applications were
approved – bringing the total of legal marijuana smokers to 16 across

But at the same time, federal lawyers have been in court in Toronto,
seeking to overturn a provincial court’s ruling allowing an individual
diagnosed as epileptic to smoke marijuana legally to control what are
described as life-threatening seizures. In 1997, an Ontario court
gave Terry Parker permission to smoke marijuana free of prosecution.
But Ottawa lawyers are arguing that this permission usurps federal
authority; Mr. Parker should make application to the health minister
like the others.

On both sides of the border, legal supply of the drug is an

“People didn’t pass Proposition 215 with the thought of sick people
having to go downtown to a dark alley to buy their medicine,” says
Rand Martin, chief of staff for California State Sen. John
Vasconcellos. The senator has introduced legislation to set up a
registry of people with legal permission for medicinal marijuana. If
the system is implemented, a police officer would be able to check on
someone’s marijuana status as easily as he could check on outstanding
parking tickets.

Yet people allowed to use medicinal marijuana are often too ill to
grow their own. And because marijuana is a plant and not a
manufactured product like aspirin, there’s not an obvious role for
pharmaceutical companies to play, observes Eugene Oscapella, an Ottawa
lawyer and a founding member of the Canadian Drug Policy Foundation.

But if restrictions on medicinal marijuana were relaxed as fully as
advocates would like, marijuana could be as widely used, he suggests,
as an over-the-counter painkiller.

Buyers’ Clubs

It is in this void that “buyers’ clubs” have developed, such as the
Compassion Club of Vancouver, a registered charity set up to supply
seriously ill people with marijuana. In Canada these clubs have
generally worked out a modus vivendi with the police.

In California, activists in such organizations have been prosecuted.
Boje, a graphic artist, says she was working with Mr. McCormick to
establish a buyers’ club in southern California when she was arrested.
She has insisted that because of the new law and because McCormick
had prescriptions for marijuana, their activities were legal.
Pretrial motions in McCormick’s trial were to begin yesterday in California.

Conroy expects to lose the Nov. 1 hearing but to appeal to Canada’s
federal justice minister. Boje “is in fear of what will be done to
her” if she goes to a US prison. Amnesty International released a
report earlier this year about human rights violations against women
in prison, which attracted widespread attention here. The levels of
abuse reported are a reason to consider the American justice system
“unjust and oppressive,” according to Conroy.



Thank you for focusing on the plight of Renee Boje (“Canada and US In
Drug Debate,” Oct. 19). Her story illustrates the U.S. government’s
obsession with destroying anyone barely connected with challenges to
marijuana policy.

Renee Boje hurt no one. She presents no threat to any individual. Yet,
she faces 10 years to life in prison along with extradition
proceedings. Who benefits from such vindictiveness? Certainly not the
U.S. public, who will see hundreds of thousands of their tax dollars
wasted if Renee is extradited, tried and incarcerated. In return, the
public gets nothing in the way of increased safety or security.

U.S. government officials may believe they benefit by crushing dissent
toward marijuana policy, but this case is so outrageous, they are
likely to leave many Americans shocked. The prison system, always
hungry for more raw material to facilitate expansion, will be the only
big winner.

This latest display of the U.S. government’s manic compulsion to crush
anything that stands as a challenge to its cruel policies regarding
marijuana should be a wake up call to all Americans. Renee Boje stood
at the periphery of a situation that seemed to be supported by the
people of California. The federal government’s reaction shows its goal
is not to protect the people, but to scare them into submission.

Stephen Young

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