Pubdate: Fri, 11 Apr 2003
Source: Halifax Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2003 The Halifax Herald Limited
Author: Camille Bains, Canadian Press
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


VANCOUVER - A man seeking asylum in Canada because he smokes pot to fight a 
rare form of cancer would do well to stay out of the United States, where 
the "corrupt system" would prosecute him, a California judge testified 

"His chances would be overwhelming, I regret to say, of being tried and 
convicted," Judge James Gray of the Orange Country Superior Court said by 
phone at a refugee hearing for Steve Kubby. Kubby, a former California 
resident who now lives in Sechelt, B.C., said between puffs on a joint 
outside the hearing that he suffers from adrenal cancer and would die 
within four days if he didn't smoke marijuana.

Health Canada granted him permission last August to grow and smoke pot for 
medicinal purposes.

Although California's Proposition 215 allows for the medical use of 
marijuana, patients are still prosecuted by the federal court, whose laws 
trump state laws, Gray said.

And those who face a judge in federal court can't provide any evidence of 
medicinal use so the jury doesn't get to hear they aren't drug dealers, 
Gray said from Santa Ana, Calif.

"Mr. Kubby, I believe is in real serious legal trouble if he were to find 
himself back in California," Gray said under questioning by Kubby's wife 
Michele, who is not a lawyer but is representing him at the hearing.

Kubby was convicted in the United States of possessing peyote and one magic 
mushroom stem and found not guilty of any marijuana offences.

Kubby, who met almost Gray three years ago at a public function, said 
outside the hearing that he was placed on probation and doesn't want to 
return home because he'd immediately be arrested and put in jail, where he 
wouldn't survive.

Federal law enforcement officials are getting more "extremist" with 
medicinal pot users and have gone so far as to arrest dying patients in a 
hospice, Gray said.

In one case, an ill woman who couldn't stand up was handcuffed to her bed, 
he claimed.

"I love my country deeply ... but what I've seen here in the federal 
government is appalling," Gray said under questioning by lawyer Gordon 
Starr, opposing Kubby's refugee bid on behalf of Canada's Citizenship and 
Immigration Department.

The federal court makes no distinction between people who smoke pot for 
medical reasons and those who traffic drugs because marijuana is seen as 
having no medicinal purpose in the United States, Gray said.

The American government is specially keen to convict high-profile 
individuals like Kubby, the judge said of the man who once ran for governor 
of California as a Libertarian candidate.

Proposition 215, the California initiative that approved medical marijuana 
use, has made no difference to the federal government.

Gray said anyone who profits from trafficking marijuana should be sent to 
jail, but that there's a place for the medicinal use of cannabis for ill 
people, the same as in Canada.

Angel McClary Raich, a medical marijuana advocate from Oakland, Calif., and 
one of several witnesses who testified by phone, said she smokes marijuana 
to combat 15 serious medical conditions including endometriosis and an 
inoperable brain tumour.

But McClary Raich said she fears for her life if she's arrested because 
without the pot "it would be a torturous death for me."
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager