Pubdate: Tue, 09 Dec 2003
Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)
Copyright: 2003 The Press Democrat
Author: Jeremy Hay, The Press Democrat
Bookmark: (Kubby, Steve)


Former California Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Kubby Plans Appeal Of
Ruling Denying Refugee Status

Former California gubernatorial candidate Steve Kubby benefits
medically from marijuana, but he doesn't qualify as a political
refugee, a Canadian immigration judge said Monday in rejecting Kubby's
application for political asylum.

"Mr. Kubby has not established he has either a well founded fear of
persecution ... or a risk to his life" if he returns to the United
States, Judge Paulah Dauns said in her ruling.

The ruling could have significant implications for two North Coast men
now living in Canada, Kenneth Hayes and Steve Tuck, who face marijuana
charges in the United States and have also applied for political
refugee status in Canada.

Dauns is the judge who will decide their cases.

In 2000, Kubby, now 56, was convicted in Placer County on charges of
peyote possession, but says he would die in jail without access to
marijuana -- the basis for his claim for political refugee status.

Kubby -- who smokes pot to suppress his adrenal gland cancer and since
fleeing to Canada has become a vocal medical marijuana activist --
said he would appeal the ruling.

"I just always feel that we're right and we're going to prevail if we
don't give up," he said from his home in British Columbia, where a
small but growing group of Americans has settled, escaping U.S. drug
charges or what they term unduly harsh anti-drug policies.

Although it went against Kubby, Dauns' ruling further illustrated the
increasing divide in U.S. and Canadian policies over marijuana use.

Kubby would prefer to be told how much marijuana he can "safely grow
.. thereby being guaranteed not to be prosecuted," Dauns said in her

"Perhaps this would be the best approach. Certainly it is the approach
that Canada has adopted," she wrote. But, she added, California has
"very liberal and clear medical marijuana laws."

Dauns also said that while Kubby, Hayes and others have argued they
would not receive fair trials in the United States, others facing
federal marijuana charges received less-than-mandatory sentences.

A ruling on Hayes and Tuck's cases is expected soon, a Canadian
Immigration and Refugee Board spokeswoman said.

Kubby ran for California governor in 1998.

He was acquitted of marijuana charges in the same case that resulted
in his peyote possession conviction.

He has 15 days to apply to Canada's Supreme Court for a review of
Daun's decision, refugee board spokeswoman Melissa Anderson said.

If the court doesn't review his case, Kubby and his family have 30
days to leave Canada, the country's Citizenship and Immigration
department said.

Kubby could also apply for a "pre-removal risk assessment," said Lois
Reimer, a department spokeswoman, and immigration officials would
again investigate whether Kubby faced "cruel or unusual punishment or
risk to life" if returned to the United States.

Meanwhile, Placer County District Attorney Brad Fenocchio suggested
that authorities have other things on their mind than hunting Kubby

"I can't speak for the sheriff," he said, "but I seriously doubt that
the department is going to want to expend the funds to go anywhere to
serve this warrant outside the state of California."
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