Pubdate: Sun, 28 Feb 1999
Source: Auburn Journal
Copyright: 1999 Auburn Journal
Contact:  1030 High St., Auburn, CA 95603
Author: Pat McCartney, Journal's City Editor


In 1996, California voters approved the Compassionate Use Act, better
known as Proposition 215, by a 55-45 percent margin.

Now all we need is some compassion to implement the law. This week,
two high-profile cases in Placer County will test California's medical
marijuana law.

On Monday, Rocklin dentist Michael Baldwin and his wife Georgia return
to court in Auburn to answer felony charges of cultivating marijuana.
The couple claim protection under Proposition 215.

The next day, online magazine publisher Steve Kubby and his wife
Michele will attend a preliminary hearing on their Jan. 19 cultivation
arrest in a Tahoe City courtroom.

The Kubbys, who each say they use marijuana for a medical condition,
will ask Superior Court Judge James D. Garbolino to return some of the
marijuana they grew in their Olympic Valley home.

Consider this a friend-of-the-court plea for Garbolino to set aside
the question of the Kubbys' criminal liability, and to grant their
request. Deciding that the Kubbys deserve at least a portion of the
pot they grew would be just and compassionate.

As far as I can tell, it would have no effect on the prosecution's
contention the Kubbys were growing more marijuana than they needed.
That issue may still be decided by a jury, and highlights the confused
guidelines police and prosecutors follow to implement Proposition 215.
The guidelines issued by former Attorney General Dan Lungren, a
Roseville resident, state that "one can argue that more than two
plants would be cultivation of more than necessary for personal
medical use." No one in the medical marijuana movement buys that.

"There's a tremendous resistance to the implementation of 215," said
Dale Wood, a Tahoe City attorney who represents the Kubbys. Under
federal compassionate-use rules, federal authorities still supply
eight patients with 300 marijuana cigarettes a month, the equivalent
of 7.1 pounds of pot a year. What is clear is that Steve Kubby would
probably be dead except for his use of marijuana, the flowering
portion of the hemp or cannabis plant that has been used as an
intoxicant and medicine for uncounted centuries. That's the educated
opinion of Dr. Vincent DeQuattro, who diagnosed Steve Kubby's adrenal
cancer -- malignant pheochromocytoma -- two decades ago, and who was
astonished to learn last year that Kubby was not only still alive, but
running for governor of California as a Libertarian. Patients with the
one-in-a-million disease usually die from heart attacks or strokes, 
as the tumor presses against the adrenal gland and produces excess
amounts of adrenaline and noradrenaline.

As it turns out, Steve Kubby was the only adrenal cancer patient that
DeQuattro diagnosed who was still alive 10 years later. "In some
amazing fashion, this medication (marijuana) has not only controlled
the symptoms of the pheochromocytoma, but in my view, has arrested
growth," DeQuattro stated in a letter to Garbolino.

DeQuattro, a professor at the University of Southern California
Medical Center, recommended the judge supply Steve Kubby with enough
medication to control his life-threatening disease.

The fact that marijuana is a useful drug has been known to medical
researchers for years. When the Marijuana Tax Act was first passed in
1937, the American Medical Association opposed it, saying cannabis had
been used safely for a wide range of ailments.

In 1988, Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young reviewed a petition
to change marijuana's standing as a Schedule 1 drug -- high potential
for abuse, no medical benefit -- to Schedule II, which would allow the
drug to be used for medicinal purposes under a physician's care.

Young, acting on behalf of the U.S. Department of Justice's Drug
Enforcement Administration, noted that marijuana is exceptionally
non-toxic, unlike even a common over-the-counter drug like aspirin.
"It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to
continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this
substance in light of the evidence in this record," Young stated in
his conclusion. He recommended the federal government relax the
restrictions against the medical use of marijuana or cannabis,
something that may finally occur this year. I hope that wiser heads
prevail and California's Compassionate Use Act is finally

In Kubby's case, it's a matter of life or death.
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