Source: Orange County Weekly
Copyright: 1999 Orange County Weekly, Inc.
Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jan 1999
Contact:  Victor D. Infante 



Proposition 215, the medical-marijuana initiative that was passed into law
more than two years ago, has already been beleaguered by active opposition
from former state Attorney General Dan Lungren and haphazard recognition
from police authorities statewide, but it underwent a serious buzz kill on
Jan. 20 with the arrest of Steve Kubby, last year's Libertarian Party
candidate for governor.

Kubby, an outspoken advocate of Prop. 215 and one of the fundamental forces
behind its victory, and his wife, Michelle, were both arrested at their
Lake Tahoe home on suspicion of possessing 260 marijuana plants,
cultivation with intent to sell, possession of hypodermic syringes and
"conspiracy with persons unknown."

"The first thing you should know," says Kubby in an interview with the OC
Weekly shortly after he and his wife were released on their own
recognizance on Jan. 21, "is that these guys walked into a legal land mine.
We set a trap, and they fell for it. We received a tip six months ago that
Dan Lungren had ordered surveillance on us; we were told to watch for a
green-black Cherokee with darkened windows. We spotted it twice. When the
raid came, we were prepared."

Kubby said he was diagnosed with adrenal cancer in 1975 and uses medical
marijuana under his doctor's orders; his cancer is currently in remission.
He also takes medical marijuana to treat his high blood pressure. He said
his wife uses marijuana to treat the symptoms of irritable-bowel syndrome,
the side effects of which include nausea. Neither makes a secret of their
use and has, by all accounts, endeavored to be in compliance with the law. 

Although prepared for the raid, neither Kubby could have been prepared for
the sheer slapstick it produced; the police seemed convinced they were in
an episode of COPS. 

"My wife and I had been shoveling snow from the driveway," says Kubby, "and
we went to play with our daughter, when a van went racing by. The next
thing I knew, my wife was surrounded by agents. These big fat guys came
running upstairs, shouting, 'You're in trouble now.'"

The commando mission came to a grinding halt when they discovered the
Kubbys' paperwork was all neatly in order. 

"It blew their attack," says Kubby. "They wandered around scratching their
heads until the district attorney came."

The district attorney arrested them anyway.

"The police aren't here to protect us," says Brian Cross, chairman of the
Orange County Libertarian Party. "We used to call them 'peace officers'
because their job was to maintain the peace. When things got out of hand,
they were there to address the problem. We have laws and things that we
will not tolerate in society; their job was, when somebody breached one of
those laws, to do something about it. Now we call them 'law-enforcement
officers' because they're there to enforce laws. Which means that they can
go into somebody's house-even if it causes no problem whatsoever, even if
the neighbors have no idea what's going on, and it doesn't harm anybody-we
have the authority to go into that house because we think that something's
going on. That they have something we disapprove of-guns, drugs, ferrets,

"I think that it's unfortunate," said Mark Mattern, a Chapman University
political-science professor who organizes the school's biannual
gubernatorial debate, which last year was attended by all the candidates
except Gray Davis and Dan Lungren. "I found Steve Kubby to be a very
credible candidate. I'm not a Libertarian, but I felt he represented that
ideology very intensely and consistently. He was very open about his
marijuana use. I admire his honesty, especially when compared to Bill
Clinton-'I puffed on it, but I didn't inhale.'"

The OC Libertarian Party-already galvanized by the similar persecution of
local medical-marijuana activist Marvin Chavez-was among the many groups
that led a campaign to show the Lake Tahoe police their displeasure by
jamming their inbox so full of e-mails that when the Kubbys were released,
the cops asked that he tell the world how well he was treated.

This is how well he was treated:

"After we were booked," says Kubby, "we were forced to march through a
blizzard to get to a transport truck. We were freezing and miserable. They
took us to Auburn, and that's when it really got bad. I spent the night in
an unheated holding tank next to a pool of vomit. For the first time in
years, I suffered from horrific blood pressure. It was three hours until
they gave my wife a blanket. When they started to process us, I felt so
nauseated I couldn't see what I was signing. They told me to continue or
they would put me in some kind of painful hold. It was a struggle; I spent
the night vomiting and shivering.

"One cop told me, 'Prop. 215 may fly in San Francisco, but not here in
Placer County.'"

The Kubbys say they still suffer aftereffects of the arrest: Michelle
contracted pneumonia, and her husband developed an eye problem. Steve Kubby
has lost 15 pounds in less than a week.

Kubby is enthusiastic about getting his day in court. By his account, there
are no sales whatsoever of the marijuana he has cultivated, and the total
amount of "smokable" weed weighs in at about 3 1/2 pounds -roughly half of
what the federal government provides their seven licensed medical-marijuana
smokers for a year. According to Kubby, police put the "street value," of
his crop at $420,000. If true, that would make it about $120,000 per
pound-"some mighty expensive weed," Kubby joked. As for the needles that
were found, he claims a test will prove that he uses them to load his
ink-jet printer.

In reaction to the Kubbys' arrest, Cross has sent a letter urging new
Attorney General Bill Lockyer to follow through on his promise "to seek
ways for [Prop. 215's] implementation that would be safe both for the
communities and for the patients." 

Other responses have been less genteel, including one "open letter to the
powers that be" received by the Weekly. It stated: "Commencing with the
release of Steve Kubby and his wife, you will make a public apology, and
you will face retribution. This is a fate of your own making. The severity
of your retribution is solely predicated upon your willingness to engage
with the response-ability you know I can see in you. An immediate response
by you and yours will be necessary for life to be able to continue to carry
you into the future." 

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