Pubdate: May/June 1999
Source: Cannabis Culture
Copyright: 1999 Cannabis Culture, redistributed by MAP by permission
Contact:  324 West Hastings, Vancouver, BC, Canada, V6B 1K6
Fax: (604) 669-9038
Author: Pete Brady
Note: For up to date information on this story, to include access to the
Kubby email list and links to all articles about the case, visit:


Libertarian Politics, Medicinal Pot, Overzealous Narks And A CC Journalist
Mix It Up In California.

In 1996, Steve Kubby helped ensure passage of California's landmark
medical marijuana law, Proposition 215, and became the proud father of
a baby girl. In 1998, the 52-year-old entrepreneur was the Libertarian
Party's candidate in the California governor's race.

Kubby, who says he has "cheated death" by using medicinal marijuana,
exercise and hemp oil to conquer a rare form of cancer, made his
32-year-old wife Michele an integral part of his campaign team. They
crisscrossed California saying things you're not supposed to say when
you have cannabis growing in the basement back home.

Candidate Kubby had a lot at risk when he rejected the warnings of
friends and appeared in front of reporters and television cameras with
a sticky bud in hand, proclaiming "This plant is not evil; the drug
war is evil. Let's end it and spend the money making a better world
for ourselves and our children."

This wasn't political grandstanding - Kubby is an athlete, activist,
author and magazine publisher who loves marijuana as much as he loves
risks. I've read about his helicopter skiing exploits in Ski West, the
alpine sports magazine he published several years ago.

Kubby writes about blissfully leaping off the face of cliffs, skidding
stoned down ice and snow in a paroxysm of pure thrill.

On his wedding day he dropped a tab of acid and did a 90 foot bungee
jump as his astounded wedding party looked on in bemused terror.

"Life is only fun," he says, "when you're out on the

But Kubby's audacious public battle to end America's drug war wasn't
just out on the edge, it was over the edge, like wearing a target in
the center of which was written in big red letters: "Arrest Me."

On January 19, 1999, the target got hit. Kubby and his wife Michelle
opened the front door of their Northern California chalet to find
armed agents from the North Tahoe Drug Enforcement Task Force (NTTF),
an agency staffed with investigators from California, Nevada, and the
federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

"We were warned last summer that [former California Attorney General
and rival candidate for governor] Dan Lungren was angry at us." Kubby
said after the raid.

"We said publicly that although he was the top law enforcement officer
in our state, he was violating 215. Our message was costing him votes.
We were told to be on the look out for spies in a green jeep. We saw
them near our house last summer. We ran outside to confront them, but
they fled. I didn't think they'd come back." But come back they did.


Government documents show that the Kubbys were ensnared by a costly
investigation that began last July, when NTTF was notified by a local
sheriff's department about an anonymous letter mailed to them from
Southern California. The letter claimed Kubby was growing thousands of
marijuana plants and gave marijuana to his daughter, Brooke.

Handwriting experts are slated to examine the handwritten address on
the letter's envelope; observers speculate that the letter was written
by a Lungren operative or by law enforcement personnel. Whatever the
letter's origin, police now claim it as their sole reason for
beginning an intensive six month investigation.

Officials assert that everything they did during the Kubby
investigation was legal. Kubby says police documents reveal that
"legal" police procedure in the United States goes far beyond what
most Americans believe is allowable and proper. Indeed, in seeking the
"probably cause" necessary to convince a judge to authorize a search
of Kubby's home, NTTF officers used techniques that were illegal until
judges began ruling approximately 25 years ago that constitutional
protections had to be suspended to assist the War on Drugs.

Police now enjoy expanded search and seizure rights, Kubby noted,
because courts have literally interpreted the war metaphor in
precedent-setting cases that give police emergency powers similar to
those found in actual wartime.

Because of these rulings, many marijuana defendants are found guilty
even though police use coerced confessions, tainted informants,
trespass, threats, deception, illegal searches and other questionable
surveillance and investigatory techniques.

"Most judges are former prosecutors;" Kubby explains. "They give
police the benefit of the doubt. They hammer marijuana defendants.
It's business as usual." To begin the Kubby investigation, police used
a confidential informant to determine Kubby's exact street address.
Public records helped them determine ownership of the house the Kubbys
were renting, as well as ownership of other houses in Kubby's

Investigators scrutinized Kubby's neighbors. They watched and
described neighborhood children playing, recorded distribution of
children's bicycles and toys.

They called Squaw Valley Ski Corporation and talked its personnel
department (apparently without a subpoena) into telling them why one
employee drove company vehicles home. They ascertained square footage,
deed status, and surveyor's records for the houses of six of Kubby's
neighbors, and subpoenaed months of power company and employment
records for Kubby and his neighbors.

On July 8, investigators tried to clandestinely photograph Kubby's
house. They returned late at night on July 10, stationing themselves
15 feet from the home's west wall.

They crept along the Internet as well, conducting hours of searches
that netted them Kubby's on-line ski magazine, Alpine World.

"Investigator York found that [the Kubby website] included a heading
termed Alpine World's Cool Sites," the police report notes.
Investigator York entered Cool Sites and found that it contained Marc
Emery Direct Seed Catalog, a company supplying marijuana seeds to
cultivators. Cool Sites also contained a webpage for Cannabis Culture
magazine, a magazine advocating the unlawful (as well as medicinal)
use/possession of marijuana."

Net cops noted "pro-medicinal marijuana articles in the form of press
releases from the Kubby for Governor campaign," and "pro-medicinal
marijuana articles from the American Medical Marijuana Organization,
which lists its directors as Steve Kubby and Ed Rosenthal. (Senior
Contributor for High Times magazine, Author of Deluxe Marijuana
Grower's Guide, Marijuana Grower's Handbook, Marijuana Questions? Ask
Ed, The Closet Cultivator, Marijuana the Law and You, etc.)"

Kubby's electroliterary association with Emery and Rosenthal was part
of the reason a judge signed the search warrant for Kubby's home.

Officers also justified the search warrant by telling the judge that
Kubby is "an outspoken advocate of the lawful possession of medicinal
marijuana... admits to having purchased [grow lights] from a
horticultural warehouse [and] makes available information on how to
obtain marijuana seeds via mail. Furthermore, Kubby associates with Ed
Rosenthal, an author who encourages the unlawful possession/cultivation
of marijuana through his numerous marijuana cultivation books and


On July 13, NTTF Investigator Ed York circled Kubby's home at 3 am,
looking for trash. In America, police can legally search garbage cans,
even if they are on private property. York couldn't find Kubby's
trash, so he stood outside their home for 45 minutes, sniffing the
wind and performing other mundane detective chores. Several hours
later, the Kubbys put out their garbage. York asked an employee of
Tahoe-Truckee Sierra Disposal Company to help him put Kubby's trash
inside York's vehicle. The detective carried the trash to the Nevada
County Sheriffs Department and sifted it.

On July 20, investigators were watching at 8 am when Michele Kubby put
out her garbage. Time and again, investigators and garbage company
employees worked together to procure and search Kubby's garbage.

NTTF "Household Trash Intercept" reports reveal that garbage-sifting
investigators found several ounces of discarded marijuana in Kubby's
trash, dozens of whole or partially-smoked marijuana cigarettes ("at
least two having what appears to be lipstick residue"), mail, paper
clips, redwood chips, rubber gloves, napkins used for wiping baby's
bottom, bottles of hemp seed oil, and many other personal items. Every
shred of this detritus was meticulously weighed, analyzed, tested and
stored, as carefully as if it was grandma's set of sterling silver

The officers even found letters from Kubby to them, indicating that he
knew what they were doing. Police recorded the presence of "a document
addressed to law enforcement personnel, advising of his medical
condition, alleged 'medicinal use' of marijuana, presence of a
marijuana cultivation, and his possession of no more than 3.5 lbs. of
marijuana (which he considers a lawful six month supply)."


The voluminous NTTF Kubby file reveals that the multi-agency task
force is staffed with clever, well-trained people armed with a
cannabis-killing mandate and lots of tax dollars Many investigators in
the case have spent their careers studying marijuana gardens. Kubby's
pursuers were well-programmed in the fictitious evils of marijuana;
their case file lists marijuana as a 'dangerous drug' equivalent to
heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine.

Many Kubby investigators are members of the California Narcotics
Officer's Association, a wealthy union and public relations machine
adept at convincing politicians, the public and the media that funding
the war on drugs is a worthy cause.

Although NTTF personnel deny that their investigation was politically
motivated, only a fool would believe that investigating officers
failed to see the threat that Kubby's political candidacy posed to
their image and job security. His campaign speeches and literature
said that narcotics officers, especially federal ones, would not be
tolerated in a Libertarian California. Kubby vowed that if he was
elected governor, DEA agents would be arrested if they harassed
California citizens.

"We believe they are enemy agents of an invading army," he said. In
this context, it's no surprise that the investigation was put on hold
in August, only to resume just after the November elections.

"They didn't want to bust us before election day," Kubby speculates.
"That backfired on them with Proposition 215, when support for the
initiative actually rose after Lungren busted Dennis Peron. They
didn't want to give me any pre-election publicity."

In mid-November, with the election over, officers again began
survelling the Kubbys. Tenacious and unwilling to accept defeat, they
continued their lonely vigils in and around the perimeters of the
Kubby’s life, determined to prove through expensive clandestine
observation what Kubby had already admitted in public, in writing, and
on his website: that he grew and used lots of medical marijuana.

"They knew I had a medical grow, but they desperately wanted it to be
a marijuana selling operation," Kubby says. "They can't steal all your
money and property through asset forfeiture unless they allege sales.
So they kept looking in our windows, watching our visitors and
neighbors, grubbing through our garbage, hoping to find evidence of
sales. We never sold any."

But give the officers credit for trying. Blindly faithful to their
training and mission, they pressed on in the sub-freezing winds, sleet
and snow of alpine winter, hoping their investigation would somehow
redeem itself.

Alas, one early January evening, Investigator Michael Lyke and a
female officer named Garber were standing 75 feet behind Kubby's house
looking through his second story windows.

Lyke was trying to videotape what was going on inside the house, but
his video recorder’s batteries went dead after two minutes of
inconsequential taping. Garber tried to take photographs of the inside
of the house. All she ended up with, according to the surveillance
report, were empty negatives.

But all was not lost, because officers claim to have seen Kubby, his
wife Michele, and an unidentified blonde-haired male in Kubby's
kitchen area. According to the officers, the three were socializing
while the blonde man, and Kubby trimmed a marijuana plant.

Officers noted a vehicle in Kubby's driveway. They ran a license and
identity check, and found a faulty or contrived DEA file that
identified the man as being two Jamaican marijuana smugglers.

This spurious misidentification was one of many mistakes they made
during that night's observation. They didn't even list the date
correctly on their reports, and the man was not a missing link in
their hoped-for Kubby marijuana sales conspiracy. Instead, he was a
bona fide medical marijuana user working as a journalist, visiting the
Kubbys to interview them and do photography for magazine articles and
a book about them. The man's name? Pete Brady. The photographs? You're
looking at them.

[Editor's note: The photos are in the magazine.]


I'd never heard of Steve Kubby until a friend handed me Kubby's book,
The Politics of Consciousness.

"You haven't read this?" he asked, in the same incredulous tone
somebody would use with a Pope who'd just admitted he hadn't read the
Bible. "It's incredible. Revolutionary."

After reading TPOC, I agreed that Kubby's book was as fiery and
convincing as tracts by Thomas Paine and other early American
revolutionaries who spurred the American war for independence, a tour
de force that begins with a piercing foreword by entheogenics expert
Terence McKenna.

The book features essays that work on their own, but it also provides
support for Kubby's thesis that bonding with nature, visionary drug
use, libertarian ideals and personal growth can improve individuals
and society. It also contains scathing, haunting passages that now
seem prophetic, passages predicting the arrest and persecution of
any-one brave enough to proclaim that the drug war is but a symptom of
an evil war on nature, human potential, and liberty.

I discovered that Kubby lived less than a day's drive from my Northern
California home, so I called and asked if I could write an article
about him. He graciously invited me to visit his home in California's
Sierra Nevada mountains.

When I arrived for the interview, he and his wife Michele, together
with their beautiful toddler daughter Brooke, resembled a
picture-perfect mainstream American family. I'd anticipated a radical
couple wearing hemp and tye-dye, but I met Michele and Steve, two
good-looking people in business suits who believe in consumerism,
having lots of kids, living well, having fun.

Obviously in love with each other and their agile daughter, the Kubbys
told of their fairy tale courtship and love for skiing, and their
struggle to live the American Dream in an era of government intrusion
into private choices, which includes their "life-saving" decision to
use medical marijuana. Both Kubbys have doctor's recommendations for

Kubby is a master story teller and a great host who gregariously
recounts his exploits with a merry twinkle in his dark eyes. His
stories are fascinating. He told of his college years living with
Cheech Marin, the less spaced-out half of the famous stoner comedy duo
"Cheech and Chong."

Or the hilarious story of his antics at a military induction center
during the Vietnam War, when he painted anti-war slogans all over his
body and nearly was shot by military police before being kicked out of
the facility, having achieved his goal of convincing draft officials
that he wasn't fit for military service.

"I couldn't afford to run to Canada," Kubby recalls, "but I knew I
didn't want to kill or be killed in an immoral war. Now I'm fighting
against another immoral war - the drug war."

Kubby isn't against all things military, however. just because "it was
on my list of things to do," he twice flew an F-5 fighter jet. "One of
the only civilians ever to do it," he said. "We broke the sound barrier."

Deep in the Pacific Ocean on a diving expedition, Kubby encountered a
giant golden manta ray. "We were eyeball to eyeball," Kubby recalls.
"I felt we were totally linked with each other in inter-species
communication. I felt much more at peace with that majestic being than
I do when I am around most law enforcement officers."


Kubby told me story after story about his charmed life as a magazine
writer, educator, entrepreneur and athlete. He seemed most proud of
his work with disadvantaged children during the 1980's,when he ran a
wilderness camp program. But his mood darkened when he recalled 1978,
the year "doctors told me I had cancer of the adrenal gland."

"Doctors cut me open several times, and said, 'Nobody survives this
type of cancer.' They gave me expensive medicines and radiation
treatment. Those treatments kill you while they kill the cancer," he

Searching for salvation, Kubby studied entheogens - plant substances
used for physical and spiritual healing. He studied anthropology,
politics, spirituality, ethnobotany and ethics, searching for faith
and a cancer cure. But it wasn't just academic rationalism and grace
that helped Kubby vanquish cancer. He says some of his most useful
insights came from ingesting "Vitamin L," otherwise known as LSD 25.

"Vitamin L helped me see through the programming that binds society
and creates peoples’ self-limitations," he says. "It was a catalyst
for my own vision quests and rites of passage. It helped me see the
connectedness of all things, the ideologies that rule this world, the
tricks played by the corrupt, vertical power structure that runs
things. It taught me to face death."

Armed with wisdom gained through. study and hallucinogens, Kubby began
a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables. He abstained from caffeine,
soft drinks, meats, and junk foods. He also began practicing what he
calls "molecular theology."

"If you implement religious uses of plant concoctions such as
ayahuasca and cannabis, and combine those with prevailing ideas of
progressive theorists like Leary, Capra, Chopra, and Weil, you find
happiness and healing are achievable by changing your body-mind on a
core molecular level, Kubby says. "You effect changes by using
substances like cannabis and peyote to alter brain chemistry, breaking
through old programming to sense new possibilities and paradigms. You
enhance your internal chemistry by doing what you love - be it sports,
writing, art, music, community service, work, whatever - and that
produces a physiological response that promotes healing and happiness
on a cellular, conscious level."

Although acquaintances and family members scoffed at Kubby's
experiments with alternate realities and healing, he valiantly pulled
himself back from an abyss of debilitating pain and the specter of

"I discovered the therapeutic effects of some very tasty cookies, made
with the highest quality cannabis. It relieved and moderated ancillary
effects caused by adrenal gland problems. It moderated my blood
pressure and mood swings. It helped my sleep and digestion. After
studying the centuries of folkloric and scientific evidence about
marijuana, and using it myself, I knew it was medicinal," he said.

Dr Vincent DeQuattro, a highly-regarded University of Southern
California physician who treated Kubby's cancer, agrees with Kubby's
assertion that medicinal marijuana saved his life.

The physician treated Kubby for malignant pheochromocytoma 15 years
ago, using drugs and radiation. He referred Kubby to other doctors
after the tumor entered Kubbys liver, and lost touch with his patient.
Based on his experience with other patients, DeQuattro believed Kubby
had died, and was surprised to see in the 1998 California voter's
pamphlet that his former patient was alive and a candidate for governor.

After hearing of Kubby's arrest, DeQuattro wrote an impassioned letter
to the Placer County Superior Court judge handling Kubbys case. In the
letter, the physician says Kubby could have died by being incarcerated
for three days without marijuana after his arrest. He begged the judge
to allow Kubby to continue using medicinal marijuana, and vows to
begin extensive scientific studies on Kubby to test his thesis that
medical marijuana is primarily responsible for Kubby's survival, which
he calls "nothing short of a miracle.'

[Continued in Part 2]

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