Pubdate: Sat, 21 Oct 2000
Source: Contra Costa Times (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Contra Costa Newspapers Inc.
Address: 2640 Shadelands Drive, Walnut Creek, CA 94598
Forum:  Jennifer K. Morita, Sacramento Bee
Bookmark: Steve Kubby


AUBURN -- Defense attorneys for Steve and Michelle Kubby, the Squaw Valley 
couple accused of growing an indoor marijuana garden for commercial use, 
argued that a "pay-owe" sheet seized at their home was just notes 
estimating how much it would cost them to buy medicinal pot rather than 
grow it.

Nevada County Deputy Sheriff Frank Koehler, brought in as an expert witness 
by Placer County prosecutors, testified earlier that a piece of Marriott 
Hotel stationery with letters identifying various types of marijuana and 
their monetary value was consistent with pay-owe documents used in 
commercial sales.

But during cross-examination by attorney J. David Nick, Koehler conceded 
there could be another reasonable explanation.

Nick argued that the Kubbys, knowing they were being watched by police, 
discussed how much it would cost them to buy the marijuana they needed 
while Michelle Kubby took notes.

"I believe that's far-fetched but reasonable," Koehler said.

Koehler also testified that a scale, found upstairs in a bedroom and not 
near the plants, could have been used to ensure the pot weighed less than 
an ounce rather than to measure larger quantities with the intent to sell.

The defense questioned Koehler's expertise by noting that he hadn't read 
one of the training manuals he gave attorneys.

Koehler was also unfamiliar with a marijuana study conducted by the Drug 
Enforcement Administration.

"This is what I call the head-in-the-sand approach where you say, 'I don't 
need scientific literature, or training manuals, and I don't know what the 
books say. I retreat to my own experience,'" said defense attorney J. Tony 
Serra. "Why don't you read? Experts read, don't they?"

The Kubbys say they were growing the plants legally under a 1996 
proposition approved by California voters. The measure allows ill patients, 
with a doctor's approval, to cultivate and use marijuana for their own 
medical purposes.

Steve Kubby, 53, has been diagnosed with cancer. His wife, Michelle Kubby, 
34, suffered from a bowel ailment.

Koehler said Wednesday that the Kubbys' garden was a "sophisticated 
operation" designed for a "combination of personal use and sales and 

"Each of the Kubbys had a serious condition and each had a (medical 
marijuana) recommendation," Serra said. "Mr. Kubby believed he was about to 
die, and for him this was a wonder drug."
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