Pubdate: Wed, 3 Feb 1999 
Source: Auburn Journal (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Auburn Journal
Author: Patrick McCartney, Auburn Journal City Editor
Contact:  1030 High St., Auburn, CA 95603 
Note: Our newshawk tells us that this story may be on the AP wire Sat, 6
Feb. Also, "The latest news, just learned today, is that the DA is now
going to refer the Kubby arrest to the county's grand jury, which by my
reading may be a search for a face-saving way to get rid of this case. Stay
tuned. Pat McCartney"
Also: Please consider sending a Letter to the Edtior of the Tahoe World,
which has yet to provide the balanced, in-depth, coverage found in the
following item. See their last story at:


OLYMPIC VALLEY -- For six months drug investigators and Steve and Michele
Kubby engaged in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. As investigators of
the North Tahoe Task Force pored over details of the couple's lives for
evidence of marijuana violations, the Kubbys -- tipped off about the
investigation -- tidied up the loose ends of their growing operation.
Launched by an anonymous letter claiming the former Libertarian
gubernatorial candidate was financing his campaign by selling marijuana,
the investigation climaxed Jan. 19 with the arrest of Steve and Michele
Kubby on various marijuana charges.

Now, the Kubbys face charges of cultivating marijuana in their Olympic
Valley home, conspiracy and possession with intent to sell. A preliminary
conference is set for Feb. 22 in Tahoe Superior Court. The case promises to
become the highest-profile test to date of California's Proposition 215,
the initiative voters approved in 1996 authorizing the use of marijuana
with a physician's approval. Steve Kubby, who has adrenal cancer and was
instrumental in qualifying Proposition 215 for the ballot, openly espoused
the use of medicinal marijuana in the governor's race last year. Kubby
finished fourth, receiving 1 percent of the vote.

According to court documents filed by the multiagency North Tahoe Task
Force, the investigation included interviews of Kubby associates,
surveillance of the couple's home, checking their household trash and an
analysis of their utility bills.

But, no sooner than the anonymous letter from Marina del Rey piqued the
interest of the drug task force, then the Kubbys were tipped off an
investigation had begun.

"They underestimated our political contacts, our influence and our friends
in the medicinal marijuana movement," said Michele Kubby during an
interview at the couple's Olympic Valley home.

Producing evidence of the Kubbys' marijuana garden was easy for members of
the task force, which includes law-enforcement officials from Placer
County, the state of Nevada and the federal Drug Enforcement
Administration. Intercepting the Kubbys' household trash, investigators
found stems, seeds, leafy marijuana residue, partially smoked marijuana
cigarettes and packaging for such cultivation supplies as powerful sodium
light bulbs, plant vitamins and diagrams of lighting systems.

Also found in the household trash were flyers addressed to law- enforcement
personnel, advising them of Steve Kubby's use of medicinal marijuana,
maintenance of a garden, possession of no more than 3.5 pounds of pot and
his cancer condition.

Christopher Cattran, a Placer County deputy district attorney assigned to
the Lake Tahoe office, said he was not impressed by the Kubbys' reliance on
Proposition 215.

"My review of 215 is that (they had) more marijuana than necessitated by a
medical condition," Cattran said Tuesday. "And there is some evidence that
they furnished it to another individual observed during the surveillance."
Cattran said he visited the Kubbys' house while the task force searched the
residence to get a feel for the growing operation. Investigators seized 256
plants, about half of which were seedlings, in four different rooms. When
officers knocked on their door on a Tuesday morning, the Kubbys were ready.
As the task force searched the house, seizing plants, lights, their
computer, passports and other items, the Kubbys provided letters from a
physician, attorney and the president of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers
Cooperative, who had inspected their garden.

In the wake of their arrest, the Kubbys insist they are the perfect
defendants to overcome police and prosecutor opposition to Proposition 215.
They deny selling any of the marijuana they harvested, and point to their
modest financial circumstance $4,800 in savings and a 10-year-old car as
proof their only income is derived from Steve Kubby's online magazine,
Alpine World. "We think this will be the 'Scopes Monkey Trial' of medical
marijuana," said Steve Kubby. "This entire clash of cultures and ideology
will be on the table." Placer County Undersheriff Steve D'Arcy said he
interprets the Proposition 215 guidelines issued by former Attorney General
Dan Lungren differently.

"I don't think so," D'Arcy said about the Kubbys becoming a high-
visibility test case. "There have been other cases before where marijuana
growers were selling it and used Proposition 215 as a defense." Cattran was
less certain.

"We want to see justice done," Cattran said. "If it turns out ... a jury
decides that 265 plants are all right, then that's justice. But if the jury
decides it's just too much, justice is done then, too." 
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