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Maptalk-Digest Saturday, December 21 2002 Volume 02 : Number 461

001 Oregon Rally 4 Recovery
    From: "Dave Michon" <>
002 U.S. Drug War's Target: a New Mom
    From: Richard Lake <>
003 Series complete
    From: Elizabeth Wehrman <>


Subj: 001 Oregon Rally 4 Recovery
From: "Dave Michon" <>
Date: Tue, 20 Dec 2016 17:44:08 -0600
The Ore Health Plan has cut fund for Methadone Maint Treatment cutting off
up to 4000 people who are trying to do what society asks of them. This thing
is Jan 8, I believe, and they will need all the support they can get in the
way of LTE's and suchlike. Thanks,


Subj: 002 U.S. Drug War's Target: a New Mom
From: Richard Lake <>
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2002 14:35:31 -0500

Newshawk: CMAP
Pubdate: Sat, 21 Dec 2002
Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 The Vancouver Sun
Author: Andrew Struthers, Special to the Sun
Cited: Renee Boje
Pot TV
Bookmarks: (Boje, Renee) (McCormick, Todd) (McWilliams, Peter) (Marc Emery) (Cannabis - Medicinal)


Here's How Hollywood-Raised Renee Boje Became The Pot Madonna

Gorgeous, guileless and naturally blissed out, Vancouver's Renee Boje,
32, is the perfect poster girl for pot activists; she's also a new
mother and martyr for a cause she never dreamed she'd represent, a
marijuana madonna with everyone from Noam Chomsky to Woody Harrelson
writing letters on her behalf.

Boje lies back on the couch, her baby Shiva curled against her breast.
Images of Ganesh and Shakti smile down from the walls. Outside, the
traffic on Commercial Drive has almost faded. Across the room Shiva's
father, author Chris Bennet, talks quietly about ancient Egypt.

Shiva looks like any 10-month-old who has crashed at the end of a long
day: utterly at peace. However, he slumbers in the eye of a hurricane.
His mother is a flashpoint in America's billion-dollar war on drugs.

If Boje is the marijuana movement's perfect poster girl, as a
sacrificial lamb for the war on drugs, she's better than perfect.
She's a living example of how reefer madness can suck the girl next
door into a maelstrom of cops, lawyers, strip searches and prison bars.

The strategists in the war on drugs are manoeuvring to extradite his
wife to the U.S., where she faces charges of marijuana

The story of Boje, and her role as it-girl for the cannabis culture,
began innocently enough. Boje, who was raised in Hollywood, was 23
before she even tried marijuana. She liked it. In 1996, when
California tabled the controversial Proposition 215, a state
initiative that would allow certain sick people to use marijuana as
medicine, she joined the majority that voted yes. The proposition
passed, and medical marijuana became legal in California.

The following year she saw a man casually puffing on a joint in a
Hollywood coffee shop.

"I asked him how he could be so bold," she says, stretching out on the
sofa like a cat.

Todd McCormick, a cancer sufferer, explained that his illness had
forced him to become an expert on medical uses of marijuana, and now,
thanks to Proposition 215, he had a licence to toke. McCormick, a tiny
man in a wheelchair whose spine was severed in two places, also told
her he had just received a $100,000 advance from publisher Peter
McWilliams to write a book on medical marijuana.

Boje, who had just finished art school, was intrigued, and their
conversation continued. McCormick soon took her on to illustrate the

Over the next few months, Boje spent a good deal of time at
McCormick's Bel Air mansion, dubbed the cannabis castle"(it had a
moat, along with 4,000 pot plants), making sketches for the book. One
night on her way home she was snared by officers from the U.S. Drug
Enforcement Agency. They claimed they had been watching her through
binoculars as she lined the bridge across the cannabis castle's moat
with pot plants and watered them.

Although she had nothing in her possession, over the next 72 hours she
was strip-searched 15 times while two cops leered at her and told her
what they were going to do with her once they put her "inside for
good." When she mentioned Proposition 215, they laughed and told her
that growing medical marijuana might be legal under California state
law, but under federal law it was no different from peddling smack.
The DEA was a federal agency, and the legal principle of supremacy
meant that in a battle between state and federal law, the latter would

What the feds wanted was for Boje to testify against McCormick and and
his publisherPeter McWilliams, an AIDS sufferer who used marijuana to
fight the nausea his treatment caused him. Both had been busted that
same night and charged with trafficking. Four thousand plants. That's
a lot of grass for one tiny guy in a wheelchair and his AIDS-stricken

Boje refused. The charges against her were dropped, she was released,
and the DEA started tailing her so they could build a better case
against her.

In 1998, her lawyer told her there was a 99-per-cent chance the
charges would be reinstated. The feds were determined to bring down
Proposition 215, and wanted the case against McCormick and McWilliams
to be iron-clad. She was a pawn in the DEA's gambit. Unless she
testified against her friends, she faced 10 years to life under
federal mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

"He [Boje's lawyer] said if I was his daughter, he'd tell me to go to
Canada. The only thing I knew about Canada was the Kids in the Hall,"
she says. That, and that B.C. was pretty laid-back about marijuana.

Knowing nothing about the vast area north of the 49th parallel, she
agonized between life in Canada and imprisonment. However, that same
year, in her home state of California, eight prison guards had been
indicted for "pitting inmates against each other in gladiator-style
fights." The conflicts were broken up by firing on the inmates with
rifles. Seven were killed. According to Amnesty International, which
had condemned conditions in U.S. jails, female prisoners were
"subjected to serious sexual abuse, including rape and being sold as
'sex slaves' to male inmates." They were also routinely shackled to
their beds while giving birth.

Boje fled that spring. She couldn't even tell her family she might
never see them again because, in the eyes of the DEA, that would make
them guilty of abetting a fugitive.

At the border the dropped marijuana charges came up on the computer,
but the Canadian border guard waved her in. A 20-something who'd been
caught smoking pot? Big deal.

She found her way to the Sunshine Coast, where a friend of a friend
lived. Life in Roberts Creek was good. She soon founded the local
Compassion Club, and started administering medical marijuana to help
ease the suffering of terminally ill patients and AIDS victims.

Bad move. She got busted in a police raid -- medical marijuana is
still technically illegal in Canada -- and suddenly the DEA had her
back in its crosshairs. Extradition loomed.

Terrified of what awaited her in the States, she applied for refugee
status. When word of her plight got around, she became the cause
celebre of the marijuana legalization movement.

Marc Emery, founder of Hemp BC, publisher of Cannabis Culture, and the
man the National Post called "Canada's pot millionaire," kicked in for
her legal defence and took her to the studios of his newest
enterprise, a fledgling Internet media outlet called, of course, Pot

When she walked into the station, Chris Bennet was on the air from
Vancouver Island, talking about marijuana and the Bible. The host
asked Boje to join in, and so she and Bennet exchanged their first
hellos in cyberspace.

Boje was moving even deeper toward the epicentre of B.C.'s marijuana

It was 1999, and Bennet still lived in Ucluelet. We were friends then
- -- still are.

Bennet, raised by loggers in Ukee, was like some crazy funhouse mirror
image of me. We both surfed, both drew, both lived on converted fish
boats, and both had published books. And we both smoked a lot of pot.
There was only one thing we disagreed on: Chris thought the Tree of
Life in the Garden of Eden was a giant pot plant, and I didn't.

In 1999 Chris wrote a book on this theme, called Sex, Drugs, Violence
and the Bible. It was full of references to Old Testament patriarchs
anointing themselves with cane oil, which Chris argued was a tincture
of cannabis. Highly entertaining. But when he asked me to illustrate
the book I begged off.

I had just quit smoking pot, which for me had become the TV of drugs.
Every night I would turn on, tune in, and drop off.

Remember those fairy rings in Scottish folklore? You get drawn in by
the wild music, dance round and round all night, and when you wake up
in the morning 10 years have passed and you're old. That's exactly
what a decade of smoking pot in Tofino feels like once you sober up.

But I relented, and perhaps because my heart wasn't in it, the cover
painting took forever.

By the time I'd finished, Bennet had moved to Vancouver to work for
Pot TV, another Emery enterprise.

Bennet had his own show, The Burning Shiva Hour, in which he rambled
entertainingly about his favourite subjects: marijuana and the Bible
and anointing and cane oil. There was also a show called The Healing
Herb, which broadcast updates on the fight for legalizing medical
marijuana, featuring Boje.

When I called Chris to see if he liked the painting he told me about
Renee -- he was madly in love with her. Unfortunately, the U.S.
justice department had its own plans for her.

It's after midnight. Chris, Renee and Shiva are curled up on a giant
bed in the next room, and I drift on the couch under the dim spines of
books: Joseph Campbell. Carl Jung. Rabelais. Next morning, it's
Gnostics for breakfast.

Apart from the flow of references to arcane texts, life in the
Boje/Bennet household is pretty standard domestic stuff. At 10 a.m.
Chris leaves for work -- he's now the manager of Pot TV. Boje plunks
Shiva in a device that allows him to trundle around the house like a
little tank while she waters the plants. Not pot plants. Just plants.

As she waters, I ask if she would return to the States if the charges
were miraculously dropped. She shakes her head.

"I had no idea what Canada was like, how free everyone is. I think
they keep it secret down there. Even getting arrested here is so
different. I never want to go back."

Despite the threat of extradition, life in B.C. is good. Emery has
thus far kicked in about a hundred thousand for her legal defence,
and, like a good immigrant, Boje is using her entrepreneurial spirit
to plan her own business venture.

Last December, anointed with cane oil and painted with pagan fertility
symbols, she and Chris exchanged vows at the altar. This spring Shiva

Shortly after Shiva's arrival, Boje's lawyers filed a further appeal
to the justice minister, who had agreed to hear Boje's claim for
refugee status, citing Boje's marriage to a Canadian and the birth of
her son. Her refugee claim is based on the argument that conditions in
U.S. prisons are inhumane, and the sentence Boje might face

Back in California, McCormick and McWilliams, both too sick to flee,
had ended up in federal court, where neither was allowed to mention
Proposition 215, medical marijuana or even their own illnesses.

Stripped of any defence, both pleaded guilty to trafficking in
exchange for the dropping of some charges. McCormick got five years,
McWilliams was released on bail pending sentence. One of the
conditions of McWilliams' bail was a weekly test for THC, which meant
he was unable to smoke the marijuana that had kept him from throwing
up his AIDS drug cocktail. A few months later he choked to death on
his own vomit.

Shortly after the sentencing of McCormick and McWilliams, Bennet and
Boje were interviewed by Global TV. When they watched the footage it
was followed by an interview with U.S. "drug czar" John Walters' right
hand man, Colonel Robert Maginnis. Maginnis singled Boje out, saying
they were coming to get her. He planned to make an example of her
case, and extradite her by hook or by crook.

"It was very upsetting to realize the drug czar knew me by name," she
says, as Shiva bashes his walker into the door jamb, skids off the rug
on to the hardwood floor and thunders down the hall.

It's ironic that while Canada's marijuana laws seem to be loosening --
just last week Federal Justice Minister Martin Cauchon recommended
decriminalization of pot possession under 30 grams -- Boje's foes in
the U.S. are winding up tighter and tighter.

This little BC family is up against their own axis of evil formed by
John Ashcroft, President George Bush, and the new head of the US
office of national Drug Control Policy, John Walters -- three guys who
take their jobs very seriously.

Ashcroft gained notoriety recently when he decided it was "curtains
for Justice" -- literally. He spent $12,000 on drapery to cover a
statue of Justice in Washington that had one breast bared. The son of
a fundamentalist preacher, Ashcroft admits in his book Lessons From A
Father To A Son, that he anointed himself with oil before taking
office as a Senator (he couldn't find cane oil so he used Crisco).

Walters is a lifelong Washington bureaucrat who once stated in the
Weekly Standard that the notion that young black men are unjustly
punished by America's criminal justice system is one of "the great
urban myths of our time." (This, despite the fact that because US
felons are stripped of their democratic rights, even after release
from prison, fully 15 per cent of young black men in Kentucky and
Virginia can't vote.)

And Bush? Well, when a patron in a bar near Sioux Falls, South Dakota,
proposed setting fire to the President to see if God would address the
country "through a burning Bush," he got a three-month prison sentence.

Now Canada must decide whether or not to surrender Boje to a country
and justice system run by this trio.

Her defence is twofold: first, that if repatriated she would face
inhumane treatment because the prisons there are so bad, and second,
that her sentence is so wildly different from what it would be in
Canada that it negates any extradition agreement.

Even her own lawyer calls the gambit a "long shot." If Boje is allowed
to stay, worries are that it will set a precedent and trigger an
influx of criminal Americans. But Boje's only real transgression is
her stalwart character: she steadfastly refused to rat on her friends.

There is already an international precedent in a similar case. In 1999
the high court of Norway unanimously refused to extradite Henry
Hendriksen to the United States because they found conditions in
American jails inhumane. No mere friend of pot smokers, or alleged
rearranger of plants, Hendriksen stood accused of smuggling 50 tons of
hashish into Vermont. But that's not the point. Norway's high court
sees no reason for him to suffer the conditions in American prisons.

Do we want to be more like Norway, or more like America? There are
some issues where the States seems not only like a different country,
but a different planet. Jails and marijuana are at the top of the list.

America's prison population was steady from 1925 until 1973, averaging
around one convict per thousand citizens. Since then it has mushroomed
to seven per thousand, the highest rate on the planet, just ahead of
Russia. The San Jose Mercury News recently lamented that "Our jails
and prisons have become the 51st state, with a greater combined
population than Alaska, North Dakota and South Dakota."

Since 1980 the percentage of drug-related sentences has grown by a
factor of ten, and the number of women in prison for drug offences by
over 900 per cent. The majority of these drug offences involve marijuana.

Over this same period, Canada has become progressively more lenient in
its attitude towards marijuana, despite pressure from the Whitehouse.

So now the War on Drugs seems to have permutated into a war between
Canada and the US, at least metaphorically.

It's hard to avoid war metaphors. They have their own gravity. Notice
how easily we slipped into this one.

The whole trick to a war metaphor is to see your side's faults in
others. Earlier I painted Bush, Ashcroft and Walters as paranoid,
breast-phobic, Crisco-anointing Three Stooges.

Here in Canada, we sometimes seem not so far ahead. When Evan Wade
Brown pied Jean Chretien in the face, he got 30 days in jail, before
appealing. A painting of a naked female was recently removed from the
legislature, and when it comes to anointing with oil, Chris Bennet
literally wrote the book.

The whole trick to ending a war metaphor is to find some middle
ground. Pax. Okay, so Americans get a little over-excited when it
comes to pot. Big deal. Like most Canadians, I'd like to see pot
decriminalized, but I'm leery about legalization. Such freedoms only
work for adults. When you're still wet behind the ears, pot is like
fire. It makes a good servant and a lousy, paranoid, couch-potato master.

Ultimately I'd like to cut the government out of the loop when it
comes to what I put in my body, but it will take time.

Last week US drug czar John Walters travelled all the way to
Vancouver, to within a few kilometres of Boje's home, to address
Canada's recent "softening" on the marijuana issue. Seemed like a nice
guy. He reminisced about taking a degree in Toronto, but he also seems
to regard the True North as a giant grow-op fronted by the longest
undefended border in the world.

I understand his concern. It's already impossible for America to keep
Canadian bud out of their free market. And they can't resort to trade
tariffs on this product.

When asked point blank how he felt about the neighbours passing such
libertine drug laws, Walters said we could pass any laws we wanted.
"Canada," he reminded us, "is a sovereign nation.

Of course it's not Canada that needs reminding.

Rain falls, then darkness. We sit in a booth at the Buddhist
Vegetarian restaurant. Shiva makes contact with the baby in the next
booth and they play ping-pong with gurgles and coos. Renee orders a
huge plate of tofu in black bean sauce.

I say, "We have a rule in Canada: 'Never eat anything bigger than your

Boje giggles. "I'm breast feeding, I have to eat constantly."

She looks like such a BC hippie chick, it's hard to believe she's a
pawn in the DEA's billion-dollar game. Of course, when a pawn gets to
the back of the board it is transformed into a queen. That always
means trouble in chess. What will she do if Cauchon surrenders her in

"I don't like to think about that, but I doubt if they'll let me go
home with Chris and Shiva and get my things."

I'm thinking the same thing: she'll be hustled out the back door in
shackles. Right now she has a six-month reprieve. By the time her case
comes up again, possessing marijuana will probably be a summary
convictions offence, not a crime. The court will have to decide if she
should spend her life in a place that falls well below Amnesty
International's atrocity bar for an offence that our government deems
on par with a parking ticket.

When the decision is made, we'll find out whether or not, as John
Walters keeps insisting, Canada is a sovereign nation.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager


Subj: 003 Series complete
From: Elizabeth Wehrman <>
Date: Sat, 21 Dec 2002 23:10:08 -0600

The series which ran in the Daily Press (VA) on Sunday, 15 December 2002 
and submitted by Newshawk Chip has been posted, indexed, and all articles 

The series index for "Four Lives, One Last Chance - A Year In Drug Court" 
can be found at



End of Maptalk-Digest V02 #461

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