Pubdate: Sun, 01 Sep 2002
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2002 The Province
Author: Jane Seyd


A high-profile American fugitive facing drug charges in B.C. has been 
granted the right to smoke and grow huge quantities of marijuana -- for 
medical purposes.

The case is being described as a direct attack on America's anti-drug 
policy and a move that will trigger a flow of "pot refugees" from south of 
the border.

Steve Kubby, who fled with his family to the Sunshine Coast to avoid a jail 
term in California, is believed the first American to be granted a Health 
Canada exemption to the nation's drug laws.

"We're cleaning out our garage to start growing," said Kubby, 56, who lives 
on the Sunshine Coast, home to several U.S pot activists who have sought 
refuge there.

"The Americans would do well to come up to Canada and see how the Canadians 
are doing this," Kubby said after receiving his exemption Thursday.

His lawyer, John Conroy, who has represented many high-profile pot 
activists in court, says he believes that Kubby is the first U.S. citizen 
to be granted one of the approximately 800 exemptions that have been issued 
by Health Canada since 1999.

"He's certainly the first one of the high-profile pot refugees," said Conroy.

Kubby's permit allows him to travel with up to 360 grams of pot within 
Canada and grow 59 plants at a time for medical use. It also allows him to 
store up to 2,655 grams of marijuana.

Both Kubby and his lawyer agree that's a lot of pot.

Kubby says he smokes up to 12 grams of marijuana a day to control symptoms 
of a rare form of adrenal-gland cancer.

Kubby, who is a host of Pot TV, a website with breaking news about 
marijuana issues, once ran for governor of California as a Libertarian 
candidate. He and his wife, Michelle, are well-known in North America as 
advocates for legalizing medicinal marijuana.

Kubby was flagrant about his pot use and eventually was charged with 11 
counts of possession and trafficking in California. He was acquitted on all 
but two possession charges, for which he was sentenced to four months.

Kubby, Michelle and their two chidren -- aged six and two -- fled to 
Sechelt last year after the sentence was handed down.

Kubby was arrested on an immigration warrant last April after coming to the 
attention of Sechelt RCMP in media reports about medicinal marijuana.

Since then, he has applied for political refugee status -- a move similar 
to one made by fellow U.S. pot refugee Renee Boje, who also lives on the 
Sunshine Coast.

The U.S. has asked Immigration Canada to deport both Kubby and Boje.

Kubby and his wife also face criminal charges of production of a controlled 
substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking in connection with 
160 plants police seized from their home in Sechelt in April.

Kubby said one of his biggest problems in B.C. has been that police just 
don't believe he needs to smoke as much pot as he says he does for medical 

He said the documents from Health Canada now bear out his claims.

Kubby won support for his marijuana use from Dr. Joseph Connor, a clinical 
professor of medicine at the University of British Columbia and medical 
oncologist at the B.C. Cancer Agency.

Connor said Kubby's heavy pot smoking controls the blood-pressure spikes, 
rapid heart beats, severe headaches and chest pains that can result when 
his adrenal cancer cells produce too much adrenaline or other hormones, and 
that it cuts down on the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Marijuana appears to be unique in that it controls Kubby's symptoms "better 
than any currently available combination of standard medicines," wrote 
Connor in a letter to Health Canada.

"I have firmly recommended to him that he continue to use the cannabis in 
the current dose and using the specific strains of plants that he is now 

Kubby's lawyer is now asking for the criminal charges in B.C. against Kubby 
to be dropped.

He is also asking the RCMP to return the Kubbys' pot-growing equipment so 
they can get started on a legal crop of marijuana.

But his MP, John Reynolds of the Canadian Alliance Party, is of a different 

"This is going to open the doors to more Americans coming in and applying 
for exemptions . . . It concerns all Canadians," said Reynolds, MP for West 
Vancouver-Sunshine Coast.

"The law is here for Canadians. Now people everywhere in the world are 
going to say, 'Hey, Canada is a place to go and get your pot.'"

Richard Kurland, a Vancouver-based immigration lawyer, said Kubby's case 
"flings the doors open to similarly situated Americans."

Kurland also said Canada can expect an angry reaction from the Americans to 
this development.

"I think they are going to go ballistic . . . This is a direct attack on 
their anti-drug policy."
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