HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Drug Refugees
Pubdate: Mon, 24 Jun 2002
Source: Report Magazine (CN AB)
Copyright: 2002 Report Magazine, United Western Comm Ltd
Contact:  http://www.report.ca/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1327
Author: Marnie Ko

DRUG REFUGEES

Canada's Softball Narcotics Laws Are Drawing A New Type Of Immigrant

For more than 20 years, Steve Kubby has suffered with a rare and usually 
fatal form of adrenal gland cancer.

Early on, doctors gave him six months to live, but 1998 found him still 
alive, the Libertarian Party's candidate for Governor of California. 
Meanwhile, he built a reputation as an outspoken advocate for medical 
marijuana and told countless newspapers and television programs that the 
weed has prolonged his life. According to his wife, Michelle, marijuana 
"shrinks the tumor in his body. This is not for pain. It is literally to 
hold the cancer at bay." To hold the law at bay, Mr. Kubby, 56, has had to 
move north.

He now lives in Sechelt, on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast, where he has joined a 
growing population of U.S. drug law refugees.

Steve Tuck, another ex- Californian, estimates the number at more than 100, 
drawn by Canada's softer drug laws. "Refugees" is not a metaphor: both men 
have claimed legal refugee status to help them stay here. Mr. Kubby took 
refuge in Canada to escape American jail time. Auburn, California 
authorities had little sympathy for his medical condition, and charged him 
with marijuana possession and possession for sale, both felonies in the 
U.S. At Trial, a doctor from the University of Southern California swore 
that regular marijuana use was the only reason Mr. Kubby was still alive.

He was acquitted of the felony charges, but convicted on one misdemeanor 
count of possessing a hallucinogenic mushroom.

He was sentenced to 120 days in jail, and authorities would not allow him 
to bring his pot. Deciding the 120 days amounted to a "death sentence" 
without his marijuana, he decided to flee the U.S. with his wife and two 
small daughters. Denied permanent entry into Canada last month because of 
his California drug conviction, Mr. Kubby filed a refugee claim.

He will remain in Canada until his immigration hearing, which may not be 
until next year. He also faces Canadian charges of cultivating marijuana, 
and possession for the purpose of trafficking, allegedly in connection with 
160 marijuana plants found in his possession. That trial has also been 
adjourned, possibly until next year. Mr. Tuck, a disabled army veteran, 
recently allowed reporters to take a photo of the 115­square­foot room in 
his house that he uses to grow marijuana, which he smokes for pain and 
muscle spasms caused by a spinal injury.

Soon after, he was arrested by Canadian authorities. Last month he was 
ordered to leave Canada voluntarily. He filed a refugee claim instead, and 
can remain in Canada until his hearing. Another American, Ken Hayes, faces 
several charges in the U.S. for growing pot and selling it through 
marijuana clubs.

He was reportedly acquitted in 1999 on other charges relating to possession 
of 899 pot plants he planned to sell through a club. He too lives in B.C. 
and has filed a refugee claim. Whether the claims will succeed is anybody's 
guess, but Renee Boje, another Sunshine Coast resident who said she uses 
marijuana for strictly medicinal purposes, is optimistic. "Canada," she 
told reporters, "has a history of protecting people from their own 
governments."
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