Libertarian politician and medpot patient Steve Kubby and his wife Michele are in court in Placer County, California, on trial for charges arising from a politically motivated pot bust.
Steve Kubby, a cancer survivor and author of an award-winning book called “The Politics of Consciousness,” had just finished a 1998 campaign for governor when 21 police officers burst into his California mountain home in January, 1999.
After being mistreated in jail, Kubby and his wife found their home ransacked, their reputation trashed, their money and magazine business ruined by police.
Instead of giving up or accepting a plea bargain, the Kubbys fought back. They formed the American Medical Marijuana Association (www.drugsense.org/amma), which sponsors media events and legal challenges to prohibition. They networked with Libertarian Party supporters, and at this summer’s Libertarian national convention, Steve Kubby narrowly missed being picked as the party’s vice presidential candidate.
“Steve would have been a great choice,” said David Nolan, who founded the Libertarian Party in the United States. “He has great name recognition, the drug war is the number one symbol of how anti-freedom our government has become, and he and his wife are a courageous couple who have sacrificed a lot to make our country a better place.”
Kubby’s trial has major implications for California, because police and prosecutors continue to arrest sick and dying people, even if they have medical recommendations for marijuana. Kubby has been publicly critical of California Attorney General Bill Lockyer, Placer County authorities, and the federal government.
“The novel thing about AMMA’s approach is that we are holding government accountable for its actions, and asking that the will of the voters be totally respected,” Kubby explained. “In our Placer County case, for example, we will make issue of the fact that Placer authorities failed to inform citizens that the county government’s interpretation of Prop. 215 differed from the perceptions of voters or the written statements of government officials who analyzed the initiative in the 1996 ballot pamphlet.”
At Kubby’s urging, a Sacramento newspaper did a six month investigation of Placer County’s anti-pot police unit, and found that officers conducted illegal searches in a number of cases, some of which were later thrown out due to police misconduct.
“There was also a lot of misconduct in our case,” Kubby said. “We are fortunate to have attorney David Nick, along with Carolyn Hagin, an associate of veteran pot attorney Tony Serra, as our lawyers, and they intend to expose what was done to us. We also have a good judge-he’s fair, bright and honest. Prosecutors here are used to cases where judges are biased in their favor, and where defendants are scared and broke, willing to plea bargain, unaware of their rights. That’s not how our trial is going to be. I have had cancer all these years, and marijuana gave me a better life: I have to stand up for it now.”
Although the Kubbys were found with more than 200 plants in a sophisticated basement garden, their lawyers intend to show that the plants were for personal medical use covered by Prop. 215. They also intend to attack the credibility of the prosecution’s “expert witness,” who is expected to testify about that the Kubbys had too many plants.
“The problem is, the expert witness they were supposed to call was fired because of misconduct,” Kubby said. “They haven’t given us enough time to examine the credentials of whoever the next expert will be. Regardless, police officers cannot credibly claim to know what we intended to use our medicine for. Entire cases have hinged on the testimony of these so-called experts. I am glad to see defense attorneys are questioning this practice, and that these witnesses are being discredited.”
Although the Kubbys have won several key early rulings, including a motion to have court hours limited to four hours per day so that Steve Kubby’s health will not deteriorate further, they are not taking anything for granted. The judge could dismiss all charges before the end of August due to police misconduct, Kubby says, or the trial could last for months.
“The government is wasting its time and the taxpayers’ money prosecuting non-violent marijuana offenders,” Kubby said. “My goal is to win exoneration, regain my health, and then run for state office. The Libertarian Party’s platform says the drug war is THE issue that will show Americans how bad things have gotten. I would love to be able to pardon all the non-violent drug offenders and free them from our prisons. I would love to make sure that Prop. 215 is enforced, and that California’s governor and other elected officials are not influenced by millions of dollars from prison guards and narcotics officers’ lobbyists. People say we can’t make a difference, but I think we can. Last year, we were torn from our homes, thrown in a cold jail cell, and left bankrupt. Today, we are filled with faith, hope and confidence.”
American Medical Marijuana Association website: www.drugsense.org/amma