Pubdate: Sun, 19 Aug 2001
Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal (NV)
Copyright: 2001 Las Vegas Review-Journal
Author: Vin Suprynowicz
Bookmark: (Kubby, Steve)
Note: Vin Suprynowicz, the Review-Journal's assistant editorial page 
editor, is author of "Send in the Waco Killers." His column appears 


Medical marijuana activist Steve Kubby "said Thursday he will 
continue to fight his misdemeanor drug convictions from Canada rather 
than submit to a 117-day stay in the Placer County jail," reported 
Wayne Wilson of The Sacramento Bee on July 27.

"They forced me to choose between going to jail and participating in 
my own death there or being with my family here," Kubby explains, 
speaking by phone from his new home in Sechelt, British Columbia.

Kubby, 54, was the Libertarian Party's California gubernatorial 
nominee in 1998, and helped win overwhelming voter approval of 
Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana for medical use. Yet -- in 
an astonishing example of political retribution -- Placer County 
sheriffs deputies staked out the Kubby house, peered in the windows 
and pored through the couple's garbage in search of "evidence," 
finally arresting Kubby and his wife Michele for growing marijuana 
after that electoral victory.

Kubby suffers from adrenal cancer, and has survived the usually fatal 
disease for 16 years -- long enough to astonish his physicians. His 
only known treatment is the marijuana he selectively breeds to 
counter the effect of the excess adrenalin in his body. Kubby, who 
estimates the value of the breeding stock seized and destroyed by 
authorities at more than $1 million, is adamant that if jailed and 
deprived of the potent medicinal plant he would quickly die.

(I tried a few puffs of his crop in 1999 -- just doing my 
journalistic duty -- and promptly passed out cold.)

"I talked to the probation department yesterday. They have my 
address," Kubby told the Sacramento paper last month. "I'm not going 
to put my life at risk while this is under appeal, and I still 
haven't had a chance to have an attorney go before the judge and 
argue for a stay of the sentence."

Kubby was arrested in January 1999 for possession of 265 marijuana 
plants. Police also seized the couple's computers, bankrupting them 
by destroying their home-based business (publishing an outdoor sports 
magazine), arguing in court that their subscriber mailing list was in 
fact a list of "marijuana buyers."

Replying that the crop was strictly medicinal and for his own use -- 
he cross-breeds different strains to maximize the effects helpful to 
his condition -- Kubby won dismissal of all five marijuana counts 
after a jury voted 11-1 for acquittal on Dec. 21, 2000. But he was 
convicted of possessing small quantities of two other controlled 
substances -- a mushroom stem and a peyote button -- which turned up 
during the search.

The Kubbys say they don't know whether the dried-out vegetable 
fragments were left behind by house guests or planted by police, who 
apparently changed the identification and labeling of the exhibits 
several times.

Judge John L. Cosgrove granted Kubby's request to have the 
convictions reduced to misdemeanors, placed him on three years 
probation and ordered that he serve 117 days in jail. But Kubby says 
it became clear to him that the jail would not provide him with the 
marijuana necessary to treat his usually fatal disease.

"Steve has ... refused to serve any sentence or pay any fines until 
this appeal is heard," Michele Kubby reported in an e-mail sent to 
supporters on Aug. 7.

"It's absurd that Placer County would demand any jail time, since 
voters (even in Placer County!) solidly supported no jail for drug 
offenders when they voted for Prop 36. ... I'm proud of Steve for 
doing the responsible thing by standing by me and our two little 
girls, rather than turn himself over to be experimented upon by 
Placer County. ...

"Welcome to the Drug War, where ... police can invade your home ... 
peek through your windows, go through your garbage, and even listen 
through your walls. Before you know it, you'll be facing a jury where 
Libertarians and people who used marijuana or advocate its 
re-legalization are banned. ...

"Steve has the unalienable right to his life. And he has the 
unalienable right to grow any God-given herb, and use them as he sees 
fit. ... Here in the safe jurisdiction of British Columbia, where the 
Canadian federal government recognizes Steve's rights as a cannabis 
patient, we have a safe harbor from which we can continue our appeal.

"How can Placer County force Steve, while he exercises his right to 
appeal and doesn't even have competent legal representation, to 
choose between being a fugitive or facing certain death?"

I phoned the Kubbys in British Columbia, last week. The family is 
staying in a four-bedroom house with a two-car garage overlooking 
Porpoise Bay for U.S. $690 a month, Steve reports. "And the only 
black-and-whites you see up here are the bald eagles. I think there 
are like six cops for the whole coast. ... We're living like kings 
and all our friends believe as we do. ..."

While that's good news, it doesn't make me any less ashamed to live 
in a country that would force a fine man and his courageous family to 
choose between exile and certain death in prison.

Financial help to fund Steve's appeal is welcome at, or The Kubby Defense Fund, 5823 
Marine Way, Sechelt, B.C. V0N 3A6 Canada.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh