The US Feds want to extradite Renee Boje from Canada, and put her in a US prison for a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life, for allegedly helping cancer-patient Todd McCormick grow medical marijuana in a Bel Air mansion outfitted as a cannabis-research lab. Since a narrow escape to Canada in May of 1998, Boje has become one of the highest profile pot activists in the country, gathering media support for the cause in over 350 newspaper, radio and television interviews.
Now Boje is holding a concert in Canada called The Healing Herb Festival – featuring the renknowned band Spearhead, and scheduled for November 24 at the BC Enterprise Hall in Vancouver, BC.
“The Healing Herb Festival is a benefit to raise money and awareness for my case and for Todd McCormick’s case,” said Boje. “In addition to the bands, there will be some surprise celebrity guest speakers that should be of interest to those that smoke the herb.”
The US government has attacked Boje with every means at their disposal since she took refuge in Canada. Their vicious persual is related to the precedent-setting nature of her case. If she wins, it could mean that other US medical marijuana users facing prosecution could flee north of the border to safety, similar to the flight of draftees during the Vietnam war.
Others involved in the bust have been pursued with equal venom. When Todd McCormick, Renee Boje and others at the mansion were arrested, US federal authorities also arrested McCormick’s publisher, Peter McWilliams, for conspiracy to grow marijuana. McWilliams, who suffered from AIDS and cancer, lost much of his publishing equipment during the raid, an act of de facto censorship by the DEA.
McWilliams was drug-tested and threatened with a return to prison if he used medical pot. He continued his activism, working on a book criticizing the DEA until he died from choking on his own vomit, a symptom that medical cannabis would have relieved if the state hadn’t forbidden him his medicine. He died only a week after a suspicious fire broke out in his office, destroying his DEA-critical book and all of his research.
“Judge George King and the US federal authorities are directly responsible for Peter’s death,” Boje told Cannabis Culture in a recent interview. “Now they are threatening Todd McCormick’s life by mistreating and abusing him while holding him in solitary confinement in federal prison. People can help Todd by going to my website and signing a petition to free him from jail.”
Indeed, US federal authorities seem as bent on killing McCormick as they were on killing McWilliams. Two weeks after being released on bail in February of 1998, McCormick tried Marinol, a legal THC medicine. Within a week, Judge King ordered McCormick to stop taking the legally prescribed medication. Two weeks later, with residual traces of Marinol still in his system, they threw McCormick back in jail for failing a drug test, strip searched him in piles of human feces, and eventually transferred him to a cold cell in the psychiatric ward because of his failing health. When he recently requested Marinol for his cancer, he was thrown in solitary confinement, where he remained as of September, in failing health, without his medicine.
The arrests of McCormick and McWilliams are part of a political war between the California state government, which made medical marijuana legal through a state-wide voter ballot initiative in 1997, and the US Federal Government, which refused to acknowledge the new law. Destroying the lives of Boje, McCormick and McWilliams is surely an attack on the popularity of their cause, on democracy and on the freedom to use the healing herb.
Boje’s Healing Herb Festival is a revolutionary act to answer for the death of one friend and the continued torture of another.
“History has shown us that revolution and change begin through the arts first,” said Boje. “Art is a very powerful medium to channel awareness through, and get a positive message out to the world. I am honored that Marc Emery is going to be one of the main sponsors of the event! If it wasn’t for him, this concert would not be taking place!”