Canadian Immigration authorities had a “Removal Order” dated January 12, but Steve Kubby and his family remain north of the border while Judge Yvon Pinard considers their last, desperate appeal. Kubby, 58, suffers from a rare form of adrenal cancer that has been in remission for decades thanks to cannabis use. He fears that a return to California -where he faces jail time- could be a death sentence.
Kubby is an activist who played a key role in getting Prop 215 on the ballot in 1996. He and his wife Michele were busted in January ’99 and charged with growing 265 indoor plants at their home in Squaw Valley. Placer County prosecutors charged that the plants were for sale to Bay Area clubs; the Kubbys maintained they were for personal use (and that more than half were unsexed seedlings).
Kubby’s defense included a letter from Vincent DeQuattro, MD, the USC Medical Center cancer specialist who in the early 1980s diagnosed Kubby’s condition as Pheochromocytoma, a cancer that stimulates overproduction of adrenaline (inducing heart attacks and strokes). DeQuattro was surprised to learn that Kubby had survived when in 1998 he saw his name listed in the Voter’s Handbook as the Libertarian Party candidate for governor of California.
“I contacted him to determine how it was that he had survived all these years,” DeQuattro recounted. “He told me that he was treating himself with the advice of his physicians in northern California with marijuana and has been taking no other medical therapy for several years.” DeQuattro consulted another specialist who confirmed “that every patient other than Steve with Steve’s condition had died during this interval of time. Steve was the only survivor.”
DeQuattro hypothesized that “in some amazing fashion, this medication has not only controlled the symptoms of the pheochromocytoma, but in my view, has [also] arrested its growth.” He also advised the court that a very sharp spike in Kubby’s blood pressure during his three-day imprisonment following the bust suggested that the cancer, though in remission, was still present in his adrenal system.
“Please consider the consequences of Steve’s condition not being controlled,” DeQuattro wrote. “His tumor is manufacturing large quantities of norepinephrine (noradrenaline) and possibly epinephrine (adrenaline). Either compound in minute quantities could kill him instantly by causing sudden cardiac death due to arrhythmia or acute myocardial infarction, or sudden death due to cerebral hemorrhage or cerebral vascular occlusion.”
A mostly female jury acquitted 11-1 on the sales charges but found Steve Kubby guilty of misdemeanor possession of a peyote button and a psilocybin mushroom turned up during the raid. (Kubby claimed they’d been left by a guest.) Rather than risk four months’ incarceration, he left with his wife and children for British Columbia, and was declared a fugitive by Placer County.
In 2002 Kubby got permission from Health Canada to grow 117 plants and to possess 12 pounds for personal medical use; but he was denied refugee status by the Immigration and Refugee Board in December 2003 on the grounds that he would not be “at risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment, or a risk to his life” back in the U.S. The ruling by Adjudicator Paula Jones was seen as a signal to U.S. marijuana users not to consider Canada a political haven. Prohibitionists on both sides of the border feared a wave of political immigrants reminiscent of the war resisters (many of them active-duty military personnel) who streamed north during the 1960s.
Kubby filed for judicial review by the federal court in Canada. In connection with his appeal he was examined by Joseph M. Connors, MD, Chair of the Lymphoma Tumor Group and the Research Ethics Board at the BC Cancer – who confirmed that marijuana use was apparently protecting Kubby from a fatal heart attack or stroke. Again the legal authorities chose to ignore the medical expert. An attorney for Immigration Canada, Keith Reimer, argued successfully that there was no proof Kubby would be arrested if returned to the U.S., and, anyway, prisoners in the U.S. get adequate medical care. (Reality: U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson has ordered a receiver to take control of California’s prison health care system and correct conditions of “outright depravity.”)
Kubby’s key contribution to the passage of Prop 215 came back in January, 1996, when Dennis Peron had just about given up hope of obtaining enough signatures to get an initiative on the ballot. Kubby had a connection to George Soros’s lieutenant for drug-policy reform, Ethan Nadelmann. At Kubby’s suggestion, Nadelmann flew out to SF, assessed the situation, and decided to underwrite a professional signature drive. Not at Kubby’s suggestion, Nadelmann hired a professional campaign consultant from Santa Monica named Bill Zimmerman, who hired a signature-gathering firm in Venice, and for about $800,000 they obtained 735,000 signatures by April. Republican secretary of state Bill Jones then decided to recognize Zimmerman rather than Dennis as the Yes-on-215 campaign manager, and the co-optation process was well underway.
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Robert “Duke” Schmidt reported to Leavenworth Pentitentiary Satellite Camp (minimum security) on Jan. 6 to begin serving a 41-month sentence. His friend Terre Worden and her husband drove him to the Oakland airport at 3 a.m. Terre says, “He got a letter from the Bureau of Prisons a few days before. They were sending him to Kansas. We were all just blown away. We expected him to go to Lompoc. Another friend donated the money for a ticket and he flew back and took a taxi to the prison. He was very depressed. Actually, I was very depressed, he was in pretty good spirits, considering everything. All of his friends are just so sad, because he really does not belong in prison.”
In 1999 Schmidt had founded a non-profit dispensary, Genesis 1:29, which he ran out of his home in Petaluma. As membership grew, he supplemented his homegrown with cannabis produced at other sites. Schmidt was convinced he had DEA approval because he had filed an application -Registration Form 225- to grow legally and they had cashed his check for several years in a row.
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Dear Rich Pothead,
“You’re invited to the Playboy Mansion!” So begins the invitation from the Marijuana Policy Project to prospective donors. “Come out and mingle with Playboy Playmates at the Marijuana Policy Project’s party at the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles on March 30, 2006. Click here to buy your tickets now – and get a tax-deduction at the same time! Playmates will give tours of the mansion grounds, as partiers enjoy the mansion’s pool area, with its lagoon-shaped swimming pool, waterfalls, and the famous grotto – an underground cavern complete with love seats, flickering candles, and three jacuzzi pools. The night will also include music, comedy, and an open bar. This is an exclusive event with limited capacity – we are selling only about 200 tickets – so please buy your tickets now! If you buy your tickets right away, you can even give them to your friends or family as an unforgettable holiday gift. Tickets are $500 each if purchased by February 28. After that, tickets will be $650 each. All proceeds from the event will support MPP Foundation’s work to end marijuana prohibition in the U.S. Please click here to reserve your tax-deductible tickets today. I look forward to seeing you at the mansion in March. ALIGN RIGHT Sincerely, Rob Kampia Executive Director Marijuana Policy Project” END ALIGN RIGHT
Kampia’s invitation was forwarded to Keith Stroup, the founder of NORML, who ruefully remarked that Hugh Hefner, NORML’s original backer, is now supporting MPP, his arch fundraising rival.
Don’t gnash your teeth, Keith
What Hef digs was/is unhip
Embrace your class fall.
FRED GARDNER is the editor of O’Shaughnessy’s Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org