Pubdate: Thu, 26 Oct 2000
Source: Tahoe World (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Tahoe World
Contact:  P.O. Box 138, Tahoe City, CA 96145
Fax: (530) 583-7109
Author: Jeremy Morrison, Tahoe World Staff


AUBURN - While Steve Kubby's marijuana trial - still in the prosecutory 
stages - has so far focused on proving criminal activity, the defense 
promises to shift legal gears and test the legitimacy of a 4-year-old law 
allowing California residents with a doctor's prescription to possess and 
grow marijuana for medical use.

"Our case is no more about marijuana than the Boston Tea Party was about 
tea," said Kubby. "It's not about the guilt or innocence of any one person, 
it's about playing by the rules."

Kubby and his wife, Michelle, were arrested on a number of drug-related 
charges after a January 1999 raid on their Olympic Valley house yielded 265 
marijuana plants.

Claiming protection under Proposition 215, also know as the Compassionate 
Use Act, Kubby said he was growing the plants for his personal, medical 
use. Kubby, the Libertarian Party's 1998 gubernatorial candidate and an 
active player in getting Proposition 215 on the ballot, suffers from a rare 
form of adrenal cancer for which he says marijuana is the only relief.

Since the trial began in Auburn's Placer County Superior Court earlier this 
month, the prosecution has presented the jury with testimonies from expert 
witnesses in an effort to show the Kubbys were growing marijuana for the 
purpose of sale, according to Assistant District Attorney Christopher Cattran.

Called by the prosecution to give the people's expert opinion, Frank 
Koehler, an investigator with the Nevada County Sheriff's Department, said 
his review of the evidence - including a video tape of the raid and a piece 
of Marriott Hotel stationary with nondescript numbers written on it - led 
him to believe the Kubbys were growing for both personal use and sale.

According to Cattran, Koehler is a 27-year law enforcement veteran with 
extensive experience in investigating the sale and cultivation of marijuana.

The prosecution has rejected the idea of the couple growing for personal, 
medical use due to the size of the operation.

"He's allowed to grow and possess an amount that is reasonably related to 
his medical condition," Cattran said in an interview last February.

Although some counties have since assigned specific limits on how much 
marijuana a patient may grow and possess, there were no such limitations at 
the time of Kubbys' arrest.

Maintaining that they were working within the boundaries of the law - "We 
wrote the police ... invited them over to see our garden, to take samples 
..." - Kubby believes this case will revolutionize the medical-marijuana 
issue and social politics in general.

"You know, when they took us away in the paddy wagon, my wife looked at me 
in tears and said 'What's going to happen to us now?' And I said, 'This is 
their turn, then we'll have our turn,'" Kubby said. "This is history being 
made. I honestly believe this case will turn the tide on the drug war."
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