Pubdate: Wed, 07 Apr 1999
Source: Vancouver Province (Canada)
Copyright: The Province, Vancouver 1999
Author: Peter Clough


Woody Harrelson, please call Renee Boje.

The 29-year-old California woman, who considers herself a pawn in the battle
over the legalization of medicinal marijuana in her home state, is counting
on the movie star's support to help her win refugee status in Canada.

Boje, staying with friends on the Sunshine Coast, faces life in prison if
she loses an extradition hearing set for April 19 in Vancouver.

The graphic artist says she believed medicinal marijuana to be legal in
California when she became involved with a campaign to establish a Los
Angeles counterpart to Vancouver's Compassion Club, which distributes pot to
the chronically ill.

She was hired by activist Todd McCormick to produce artwork for the Cannabis
Buyers Club after Californians voted to legalize

medicinal marijuana with Proposition 215 in 1996 -- a move that the U.S.
federal government has vowed to overrule.

McCormick, considered one of the world's leading experts in marijuana
cultivation, is at the centre of the biggest dope bust in

L.A.'s history. He was openly growing more than 4,000 plants, many of them
genetically engineered to treat specific illnesses, at his rented Bel Air

Federal agents say they found plants growing in virtually every room of the
five-storey home, designed as a medieval castle and surrounded by a moat
with drawbridges. They say it was even growing in the turrets -- in full
view of neighbours such as Elizabeth Taylor and Ronald Reagan. They say he
was supplying every medicinal-marijuana club in California.

Boje was at the house in July 1997 when police moved in.

"It was my understanding that everything had been made legal by the state of
California," she says. "He had all the licences he needed to grow."

Federal authorities decided to prosecute McCormick and other advocates found
in the house as a way of challenging Proposition 215. Boje was charged with
conspiracy, cultivation, possession and intent to distribute.

She says she met Woody Harrelson, an outspoken advocate of medicinal
marijuana, several times during her involvement with the L.A. club.
Harrelson has put up $500,000 bail for McCormick.

Boje came to B.C. a year ago, believing, she says, that the charges against
her had been dropped. She hooked up with friends in Roberts Creek, suppliers
for the Compassion Club, and was at their house in February when an RCMP
drug squad moved in. Once again, she was charged with possession and intent
to traffic.

It was through the RCMP that she learned she's a fugitive. The U.S. charges,
she was told, were reinstated after she came to Canada.

Abbotsford lawyer John Conroy says he'll argue for Boje's refugee claim on
the basis that her alleged crime would be dealt with leniently here -- as
opposed to a life sentence in the U.S.

"They don't get life for murder down there." he says. "Or rape. It's just

Boje, meanwhile, is desperately trying to raise funds for her defence. A
benefit will be held Friday night at the Roberts Creek Hall. And she's still
waiting for that phone call from Harrelson.

"I've met him a few times and he's a good guy, very supportive. I think he
would help me but I've been having trouble getting word to him."

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