Pubdate: Sun, 4 July 1999
Source: Auburn Journal
Copyright: 1999 Auburn Journal (CA)
Contact:  1030 High St., Auburn, CA 95603
Author: Pat McCartney, Auburn Journal City Editor


We will find out this month whether Placer County prosecutors continue to
pursue criminal charges against medical marijuana patients, or attempt to
come to grips with California's medical marijuana law.

The District Attorney's Office is due in court Thursday to announce whether
it will retry Rocklin dentist Michael Baldwin and his wife Georgia on
cultivation of marijuana for sale.

Some thought the D.A. would drop the remaining counts against the Baldwins
in April after Superior Court Judge James Garbolino dismissed cultivation
charges against them.

Garbolino reviewed Proposition 215, the 1996 Compassionate Use Act approved
by California voters, and other legal precedents, and ruled that the
medical marijuana initiative protected the Baldwins from prosecution for

But county prosecutors pursued cultivation for sales charges against the
Baldwins, basing their case solely on the number of plants they grew and
their possession of turkey basting bags.

A jury deadlocked 6-6 on Michael Baldwin's guilt and voted 7-5 for Georgia
Baldwin's acquittal on May 12 before Garbolino declared the case a mistrial.

On July 19, jury selection will begin on what is already a highly
publicized medical marijuana case - the prosecution of Steve and Michele
Kubby of Olympic Valley.

Steven Kubby was a key leader in California's medical marijuana movement,
and openly espoused the use of pot - cannabis is the scientific term - for
his cancer condition when he ran for governor last year as a Libertarian.

The North Tahoe Task Force investigated the Kubbys for six months after
receiving an anonymous letter that accused Kubby, who publishes an online
adventure magazine, of growing marijuana and selling it to raise funds for
his campaign.

The Kubbys never made any secret of their growing pot. They had obtained
the proper legal and medical paperwork and, once they knew they were under
surveillance, left flyers in the trash informing police of their status as
medical marijuana patients.

When the task force raided the Kubbys on Jan. 19 - complete with battering
ram and body armor - they confiscated the couple's computer (their
livelihood), personal papers, autographed books, posters, all keys, bank
records, petty cash and even the $200 the Kubbys had in their wallets. They
also seized their passports and Social Security cards. (Incidentally, the
Kubbys still have not received a copy of their computer records, despite a
February court directive.)

The Kubbys believe they represent an exemplary test case to establish the
legitimacy of Prop. 215. They insist prosecutors will have no evidence of
marijuana sales, while the Kubbys will be able to document their medical
need, including Steve's otherwise fatal adrenal cancer.

"What are they going to do?" Steve Kubby asked this week. "Kill me by
sending me to jail, or give me medical marijuana? If they sent me to jail,
Placer County would be accused of human rights violations."

Joe Farina, a Sacramento attorney who represents Michele Kubby, predicted
that Placer County officials will not take Prop. 215 seriously unless they
receive setbacks in court.

"For some people, it takes a series of jury verdicts or monetary awards
before they accept a change," Farina said. "They thought they had Baldwin
dead to rights, but if they couldn't beat Baldwin, they're going to have a
hard time convicting Steve and Michele."

As the high-profile cases head to court, Placer County deputies continue to
bust lesser-known marijuana growers, regardless of whether they have valid
letters from their physicians. Many live in Sacramento County.

Robert De Arkland, 71, is a retired real estate estimator and heavy
equipment operator who lives in Fair Oaks. Placer County investigators
broke down his unlocked door in October and seized 13 plants he was growing
under a physician's guidance.

Sacramento prosecutors dismissed cultivation charges against De Arkland in
April, and the court ordered Placer County to return his plants. But the
feisty retiree hit Placer County with a $25.2 million claim and may file a
lawsuit against the county as soon as this week.

"Placer County has a real weird attitude," De Arkland said Friday. "They
are going out of their jurisdiction and messing with sick people."

One way or another, Placer County will eventually have to recognize the
validity of Prop. 215, and end its policy of arresting first and asking
questions later.
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