Pubdate: Mon, 09 Aug 1999
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 1999 The Sacramento Bee
Contact:  P.O.Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852
Author: Wayne Wilson
Related: more articles on medicinal cannabis are available at and on the medmj state initiatives at 


Ex-Candidate Sees Courtroom As Forum

As a judge and four attorneys questioned a panel of Placer County citizens,
looking for jurors qualified to hear a drug cultivation and possession
trial, Steven Wynn Kubby discreetly left the courtroom to medicate himself.

Kubby's "medicine" is marijuana. He smokes it about 10 times a day, he
says, to stay alive. His doctor says Kubby's life has been "improved and
extended" by the therapeutic use of marijuana, and an initiative passed by
California voters says it's permissible for him to grow and possess pot for
"personal medical purposes."

But authorities in Placer County contend that Kubby and his wife, Michele,
stepped over the line in January when they cultivated an in-house nursery
of 265 marijuana plants, 110 of them fully grown and budded females, at
their Squaw Valley home.

That's too many to be used strictly for personal medical needs, prosecutors

So the Kubbys are on trial in Auburn, charged with two counts of
conspiracy, possession for sale, cultivation, and possession of various
controlled substances and ingestion devices.

Jury selection began Wednesday, continued Thursday and is expected to
extend into midweek, when opening statements and the presentation of
evidence will be brought before Judge Robert G. Vonasek, a visiting retired
Glenn County judge from Orland.

Kubby, a Libertarian gubernatorial candidate who garnered 65,113 votes in
1998 and has declared that he intends to run again in 2002, said he
welcomes the trial as "an opportunity to educate a largely disbelieving
society that considers this (medicinal use of marijuana) to be some kind of

Kubby said he uses the drug to control hypertension associated with
malignant pheochromocytoma, a usually fatal cancer diagnosed 15 years ago.

But prosecutors Eugene S. Gini Jr. and Christopher M. Cattran contend that
the issue isn't really medical marijuana. It's about growing the drug for
profit, they say.

To law enforcement, the large number of plants being grown, the Kubbys'
connection to a cannabis club in Oakland and a substantial flow of cash to
the couple prove that the crop was not for personal use. At a preliminary
hearing in March, Special Agent Mick Mollica of the Department of Justice
testified that the Kubbys' pot was "definitely possessed or cultivated for
the purpose of sale."

He estimated that each of the plants seized at the Kubbys' home in January,
when harvested, would produce 3 ounces of pot, a total of 49 pounds, 11
ounces, much more than is necessary to maintain a medicinal regimen for two.

Mitch Pier, one investigator who testified at the preliminary hearing,
conceded that searchers found no "dime baggies," no "pay/owe sheets," no
cellular phones or pagers, instruments usually associated with drug sales,
in the Kubby home.

But they did find a daily planner that appeared to contain wholesale prices
for various marijuana hybrids, Mollica testified.

According to investigator Edward C. York, the North Tahoe Narcotics Task
Force started looking at Kubby, 52, an electronic magazine publisher, after
receiving an anonymous tip.

Intercepting the Kubbys' trash, investigators in July 1998 found among the
refuse partial marijuana cigarettes and three fliers, signed by Kubby, that
led with "Attention law enforcement" and went on to describe Kubby's need
for medicinal marijuana to treat a "terminal cancer medical condition."

That didn't deter the investigators. Six months later, the task force
served a warrant on the Kubbys' home, and both Steven and Michele, 33, were

Kubby claimed they had been targeted for political reasons. Long an
outspoken critic of government intrusion, Kubby had written a letter to the
editor of The Bee in July 1993 decrying "government-sponsored terrorism"
and calling for the abolition of the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau
of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Jailed Jan. 19 without access to his "medicine," Steven Kubby said he
became extremely ill and lost 15 pounds in three days. Michele Kubby said
she came down with pneumonia.

Kubby's physician, Dr. Vincent DeQuattro of the University of Southern
California School of Medicine, wrote a letter to the court asking that
Kubby be permitted "sufficient supplies of his specific marijuana product
in order to control his life-threatening disease."

DeQuattro explained that Kubby's tumor is manufacturing large quantities of
compounds that, "in minute quantities, could kill him instantly" if his
condition is not controlled.

And marijuana contains many substances that neutralize the dangerous
compounds in the heart and vascular tissue, DeQuattro wrote.

Rejecting the prosecution's request for a six-figure bail, a judge in
January released the pair on their own recognizance.

Steve Kubby is now legally smoking pot he didn't grow.

Michele Kubby hasn't fired up a joint since she learned she is pregnant
with what will be the couple's second child.

She had been using marijuana, with a doctor's endorsement, to treat a
chronic stomach ailment.

This is Placer County's second high-profile medical marijuana trial this year.

Prosecutors brought a similar case against a Roseville dentist and his
wife, Michael W. and Georgia A. Baldwin, and in May received only 11 of the
necessary 24 votes to convict the pair of possession for sale.

The Baldwins, both of whom had marijuana recommendations from doctors, were
arrested after narcotics agents raided their Loomis home and found 146
marijuana plants.

Midway through the trial, Superior Court Judge James D. Garbolino acquitted
the Baldwins of a separate cultivating count, ruling that the prosecution
had failed to prove they were not growing it for their own use.

As in the Kubby case, cultivation was only part of the action against the

Garbolino let the trial proceed on the possession-for-sale counts because
Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, does not apply to such

After the jury voted 7-5 to acquit Georgia Baldwin and deadlocked at 6-6 on
the ballot of Michael Baldwin, a mistrial was declared, and District
Attorney Brad Fenocchio decided that his office would retry the case in
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