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:

CANDIDATE KUBBY (continued from Part 1)


It would have taken a miracle to persuade NTTF officers not to arrest
the Kubbys on January 19.

Officers say the home's large basement was subdivided into rooms
containing sophisticated lighting, carbon dioxide and horticultural
equipment. They initially overestimated the number of plants found,
finally settling on an approximate figure of 256 plants, more than
half of which Kubby says were seedlings. Police dismantled or seized
thousands of dollars worth of grow apparatus and plants; they claimed
Kubby's crop was worth almost half a million dollars. They also took
almost everything else of value out of his house: computer, money,
family photos, letters, cameras, even some of his clothes.

"They ruined our on-line magazine business by stealing our computer.
They tried to bankrupt us by stealing every cent of our cash. Most of
it goes into their asset seizure fund. They left our second-hand
furniture," Kubby quipped.

During the search, police reports indicate that Kubby repeatedly
informed cops that he was only a medical grower and user. He also told
officials he was an officer of the Oakland Cannabis Buyer's
Cooperative (OCBC). 'Officers of the Cooperative are considered immune
from federal prosecution," Kubby explained, citing the City of
Oakland's policy regarding OCBC president Jeff Jones and other Club
employees. 'But police told me that I was living in Tahoe, not Oakland.'

Even though OCBCís claimed immunity did not prevent federal officials
from closing it in late 1998, Kubby hoped his medical credentials
would prevent officers from arresting him. "I think they were just
going to leave," Kubby says, "until the district attorney showed up
and ordered us arrested. I asked if I would be allowed to bring my
medicine to jail. They said there was a no smoking policy, so I
wouldnít be able to.'

Little Brooke was ripped away from her parents and hastily bundled off
to a day care provider; Michele and Steve were transported to jail,
charged with multiple high-penalty felonies including cultivation for
sale and conspiracy to distribute marijuana. They were inadequately
dressed for the cold journey to jail, but were refused blankets and
forced to sit in an unheated police vehicle for nearly an hour. The
shaken couple began talking about their situation, until they realized
police had left a hidden tape recorder in record mode nearby.

They were taken from one jail facility to another. Bail was set at
$100,000 each, an amount the Kubbys say would have taken them forever
to raise.

"I have never been in jail before," Michele said, "I was scared to
death. Steve needs his medicine, and wasn't getting it. He began to
have blood pressure and eye problems, and was nauseous. They refused
to give him medical care. We were afraid he'd have a stroke."

As word of the Kubby's arrest spread through the internet, Placer
County authorities began receiving a flurry of emails and phone calls
condemning their decision to arrest the couple. Initially, jail
authorities were cocky. "Proposition 215 doesn't work up here in the
hills. It's only good for the fags in San Francisco," a sheriff told
Steve Kubby. But when the couple finally appeared before a judge after
three days of hell in jail, the magistrate immediately reduced bond to
zero and freed the pair against the frenzied objections of the
district attorney.

"I donít know if I could have handled another minute of jail," Michele
Kubby said. "I was in despair: crying, sobbing, wanting to die. All
around me were people jailed on drug charges. Most of them have
medical, emotional or educational problems. Some have medical
conditions that warrant the use of marijuana. They need help from
nurses, counselors, teachers, friends, family. Instead, they're
mishandled by people with guns and badges, which causes more injury.
Managing the nation's drug problem by using prisons, cops and courts
is an ugly business that perpetuates abuse. Steve always said the
system is a waste of tax dollars. Now I know first hand."


Michele Kubby's ideas about government are heavily influenced by
husband Steve's embrace of Libertarianism, a third party political
movement that is gaining ground in the United States and Canada. One
of the Kubby's heroes is fellow libertarian Marc Emery, seedmeister
extraordinaire and publisher of Cannabis Culture.

"Marc Emery displays a stroke of genius with his overgrow the
government campaign," Steve Kubby explained. "Revolutions usually
involve blood and bullets, but Marc has almost single-handedly turned
Canada into a worldwide resource for marijuana genetics and personal
freedom. He is spreading the finest cannabis across borders, in spite
of desperate efforts by the corrupt, constipated old regime, and he is
doing it with a smile on his face. He has shown us how to win a war by
planting seeds - millions of them - and every time a seed is planted
somebody makes a clear connection with their own power and freedom.'

Libertarian ideology sometimes sounds like anarchism, but it stops
short of saying all government is bad. We might need government to
repair the streets and maintain a skeletal military adequate to defend
our borders against aggressors, Kubby says, but we donít need a
government that "inserts itself into every aspect of your life like a
doctor inserts his finger into you during a gynecological or prostate

As Kubby explains it, American Libertarians are true patriots who
believe that the US constitution is a noble document that enshrines
personal freedom by limiting government power. He believes America's
current government is a form of tyranny that in no way resembles what
the country's founders envisioned.

"Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and most colonial farmers grew
cannabis," Kubby says. "Today, they'd all be in jail along with me.
The revolutionaries who won this land from the British werenít afraid
to take up arms to overthrow a government that interfered with their
inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They
would never accept a government outlawing people's right to grow
plants or ingest them. They would never accept a government that
legislates what citizens do within the sovereign borders of their own

As angry as he is at the government, Kubby subscribes to a utopian
humanist philosophy that assumes humans will "do the right thing if
given the freedom to do so." Instead of believing that government is
the glue that holds society together, he says government actions make
problems worse rather than better.

Although candidate Kubby said he wanted a healthy environment, good
schools, modernized technology and infrastructure, he steadfastly
denied that government intervention can achieve those goals.

"The government is the biggest polluter, the best friend of greedy
corporations, the worst enemy of personal freedom," Kubby asserts.
"People can solve their problems amongst themselves through dialogue,
negotiation and consensus. When the government gets involved, common
sense, choice, and efficiency go out the door."

Kubby's pro-freedom agenda created an unruly coalition of supporters.
Gun lovers, fundamentalist Christians, feminists, drug users,
prostitutes, private property advocates, porn stars, loggers,
capitalists and other independent-minded folk rallied around his
promise of an unregulated society.

"Human society will never be perfect," he admits, "but I trust
individuals more than I trust government. I'd rather give people too
much freedom than too little. I'd rather see them empowered to believe
in themselves and accept the consequences of their choices, rather
than think that the government can make decisions for them and save
them if they fail. I think people have a right to spend the money they
earn rather than have it confiscated as taxes. The government coerces
taxes from Michele and I, then they use it to fund police who come
here to terrorize and rob my family. Thatís democracy?"

Kubby's belief in the goodness and wisdom of his fellow Americans is
heartening, but his police file reveals that non-police Americans
helped bust him. A lot of people - garbage company employees, workers
for Sierra Pacific Power Company, neighbors and associates - knew
about or participated in his investigation and arrest. Several power
company employees were listed as official members of the police raid
team, and Kubby was charged nearly $200 to pay a power company worker
who disconnected his grow room's carbon dioxide system.

"I forgive them, said Kubby. "Theyíve been raised to obey without
question. They're sheep, living in fear of their own government.
They've been brainwashed into believing that my family deserves to be
robbed and put in a cage. The schools they were forced to attend are
nothing more than state-run indoctrination centers. I blame the
government, not them."


Repercussions from Kubby's arrest have hit California like an
earthquake, shaking the medical marijuana community and revealing
fault lines of power, fear and ego.

Libertarians, cannabis activists, and friends have created a firestorm
of protest around his arrest. Kubby, who earned nearly 70,000 votes
last year in his run for governor, is again the darling of a sizable
portion of the factionalized Libertarian Party.

Activists from around the world, including a man from Slovenia,
offered condolences and support. Feeling the heat, Placer County's
district attorney convened a grand jury to indict Kubby rather than
just file and prosecute the charges all by himself. Kubby says he will
force officials to dismiss charges against him and Michele, as well as
several other medical marijuana defendants in Placer County, one of
many Northern California jurisdictions known for hard-line antagonism
toward medical marijuana users.

But behind the scenes in Californiaís medical marijuana community,
Kubby's arrest triggered gossip and debate. Some people criticize
Kubby, the OCBC and other marijuana cultivators, claiming he was
growing too many plants for personal use and chiding him for "hiding
behind Prop 215 when he was probably growing a cash crop."

One activist commented: "I hate seeing anybody get busted. The plant
should be totally legal for whatever we can use it for. Growers should
be able to make as much money off it as possible with the market
setting the prices, just like for any other commodity. On the other
hand, people like Kubby and [Todd] McCormick make it hard for police
to believe in 215. They keep seeing big grows and unexplained income
and guys who claim that 4,000 plants in a mansion were medical. You
see why cops think the whole medical thing is just a front. It's not
for me to say if he was growing too many, but I think everybody who
grows pot should defend the right to make money off of it. It's the
drug war that's immoral, not people who make money for their labor and

Kubby vehemently denies that his grow room was a for-profit

"We never sold any. Michele and I have a ten-year-old car. We live in
a rental house. We had very little money in the bank. Instead of
attacking us, people should be directing their anger at the police and
prosecutors," Kubby says. "A prime tactic of fascists is to get
citizens to turn against each other. As an American of Russian Jewish
descent, I am a child of an ethnic culture that has been stigmatized,
demonized, criminalized, arrested and sent to concentration camps, so
I am a bit more sensitive than most people to the threat of corrupt
governments. I know how bad it can get. We donít need to fight each
other, we need to fight the government."


when I heard the Kubbys had been arrested, I was concerned for them,
and immediately began seeking details necessary to update the article
I'd already filed on them for this magazine.

I never expected Kubby's arrest to impact me. I've written about
eco-tresspassers who break laws by preventing loggers from cutting
1000-year-old redwood trees, and lots of other controversial people.
I'm a journalist, I figured, why worry that somebody's legal problems
would become my own?

In retrospect, I should have been more paranoid. I've endured three
years on federal and state probation arising from a previous medical
marijuana conviction, which means police can walk into my home anytime
to do a "probation search.''

Because I break no laws, am a good neighbor and positive member of the
community, I feared no evil. But on January 21, two days after the
Kubbys were raided and the last day of my federal probation, a gang of
armed men stormed my house claiming they were there to do a 'routine
probation search.' As I later determined, the search had little to do
with my probation. I had never even met my probation officer and had
never been probation searched before.

The men identified themselves as members of the Butte County Sheriff's
marijuana eradication unit; they ransacked my home and interrogated me
for several hours. An authentic probation search looks for controlled
substances and guns and then is over, but these cops kept asking me
about people I associated with, my bank accounts, my magazine writing.
They hacked my computer.

When they found a small quantity of medical marijuana in my freezer; I
informed them I was protected by my doctor's recommendation under 215.
Officers reacted with derision, saying they didnít believe in medical
marijuana and alleging that my severe and documented medical
conditions - arising from being injured when I was a high school
teacher several years ago - werenít severe enough for them.

Later, they brought me out on my patio and asked about the more than
40 different house plants there. Pointing to tiny ornamental cacti,
they said they were charging me with felony possession of peyote,
possession of marijuana, probation violation. Unless I could provide
information on a "big bad political person that you have been hanging
out with in the last few weeks," I would be going to prison for a
"long, long time."

A journalist must protect the integrity of his sources. Even though I
don't want to go to prison, informing isnít something I would
consider. I was taken to jail. After spending all the money in my bank
account posting bail, I returned home to find items and cash missing
from my house, my computer broken, my neighbors distraught.

In the days that followed, I've been called and visited by more
police. On the last visit, they hastily rifled through my books and
photos, said they'd made a mistake, and then left.

NTTF's Investigator Lyke called me one morning, introducing himself as
the man who'd ordered me arrested. I told him that what he saw me
doing at the Kubby's was a bona fide journalistic activity. He said
he'd like to read the article when it came out.

At some point in our surreal conversation, I asked Lyke if he enjoyed
using his career to inflict pain on cancer patients. I asked him if he
felt proud, when he went home at night, knowing he'd ordered to be
arrested a non-violent, introspective, partially-disabled writer.

Lyke didn't respond to my challenges in an overtly authoritarian
manner. In fact, we spent 30 minutes engaging in an actual dialogue
about hemp, drug war ethics, and medical marijuana.

For example, Lyke was curious about hemp seed oil found in Kubby's
refrigerator. I told him hemp seed oil was a totally legal product
that was also the most healthful and nutritionally complete seed oil
available. Kubby makes a delicious concoction using garlic, hemp oil,
tofu, lemon juice and spices. His daughter Brooke loved it, I told
Lyke, and love is not yet a crime.


The Kubbys are facing the hardest of times, but say they are energized
by the support and attention they've received after the arrest.

"We're going to be the test case for medical marijuana," Steve Kubby
asserts, 'maybe even for the whole war on drugs.'

Kubby's optimism is based on his "porcupine defense," which he
describes as a booby-trapped grow room that forced police to seize
constitutionalist, jury nullification, medical marijuana literature
and other political writings along with his plants and grow apparatus.

"We'll put the whole corrupt drug war ideology on trial," Kubby said.
"We'll prove that this war is a culture war waged against people who
are tired of corrupt government and the constipated Puritan who run
this country. It isnít just about medical marijuana, it's about our
right to whatever medicine we choose. It's about our right to privacy,
to be in sole control of our homes and bodies. It's about a cadre of
unenlightened, bigoted hooligans who think they can control our
spirituality, our love, our souls by putting guns to our heads."

The Kubbys appear confident, but I'm not sure how I feel. Kubby has
publicly described me as a "totally innocent bystander" who would not
have been arrested if I hadnít visited his house when he was under
surveillance. Yet as I write this, I have not been able to afford a
competent private lawyer who can keep me from going to prison.

"Theyíll love you in prison," a jailer told me. "Youíll get raped, get
AIDS and die. That's what you get for being a druggie."

I would be more optimistic if as a journalist I hadn't written about
so many people sent to prison for legally possessing medical
marijuana. Strange paradoxes occur where I live: a woman who kills her
newborn child gets a year in jail while marijuana growers routinely
get sentenced to two or more years. I now understand what Michele
Kubby meant when she said that being arrested is Re "being robbe4and
raped.' When the drug warriors confiscated my medicine, they stole my
faith in America.

Now, the prosecutor wants to send me to prison, to steal the sunshine
from my eyes, to rob me of the feel of my partner's arm on a spring
day. She wants to cage me, give me such a dire criminal record that I
can never get employment, cause as much anguish as possible. Why?.

I examine my conscience and my actions honestly and objectively trying
to see the evil man that the prosecutor must believe that I am order
for her to be so zealous in her prosecution. I am not perfect - nobody
is - but I cannot see myself as an evil man. Like the Jamaican
smuggler in the DEAís faulty file, he does not exist. The prosecutor
instead is trying to send another harmless, innocent person to prison.
I am scared, heartbroken and angry, but I have no choice but to soldier on.

Kubby, who recently declared bankruptcy and is experiencing health
difficulties, seems at peace with the struggle.

"Once, when I was diving alone," he said, "a Great White Shark menaced
me. I was prepared to die, but I cocked my fist back as I saw its eyes
roll back and its teeth exposed, which means it was going into attack
mode. At the last minute, it veered away. My fist is still cocked.
There are human sharks out there, waiting to take a bite out of all of
us. I hope everyone will wake up and fight for freedom. If we win, we
gain everything. If not, we lose our lives."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake