Source: Tahoe World (CA)
Copyright: 1999 Tahoe World
Pubdate: Thu, 11 Feb 1999
Page: Front Page with color photo of Steve and Michele
Contact:  (530) 583-7109
Mail:  P.O. Box 138, Tahoe City, CA 96145
Author: Patrick McCartney


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 poured over details of the
couple's lives for evidence of marijuana violations, the Kubbys, tipped off
about the investigation, tied 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 multi-agency 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

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 individuals 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 circumstances: $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,
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake