Ever since Libertarian politician and medpot cancer patient Steve Kubby and his wife Michele were arrested and charged with nearly two dozen drug crimes, including cultivation of marijuana, in their California home in January 1999, they have been living embodiments of non-violent, direct action civil disobedience (CC#18, Candidate Kubby).
The Kubbys faced years in prison. They went bankrupt. They suffered physical and emotional injury because prosecutors wanted to prove that Kubby’s medical marijuana garden was a commercial garden.
After a lengthy trial that ended in December 2000, Steve Kubby was found guilty of possessing a one-inch mushroom stem and four tiny cacti buttons (CC#30, Med-pot on trial).
While awaiting sentencing on the two felonies, Kubby visited BC Marijuana Party president and candidate Marc Emery, also known as a pioneering cannabis seedmeister who has inseminated the world with the finest cannabis genetics.
Emery and Kubby, who share freedom-loving political views, agreed to have Kubby and his wife Michele produce hard-hitting news shows for Emery’s Pot-TV Internetwork.
In March, Kubby returned to California to face sentencing. Judge John Cosgrove granted Kubby’s request that the felonies be reduced to misdemeanors, but sentenced Kubby to 120 days house arrest, three years probation, and several thousand dollars in fines.
Kubby decided that the sentence violated his constitutional and human rights.
He delivered the following letter to Placer authorities on the first day of spring, March 20, 2001:
“The real power of the state lies not in its guns or jail cells but in the confused willingness of individuals to subordinate their legitimate rights and voluntarily give up their property, their money and their liberty. The threat of danger is their means of coercion. The greater the threat, the less the objection to giving up liberties. Ayn Rand characterized this phenomenon as the “Sanction of the Victim,” a process by which the state coerces citizens to sanction the very injustice that is perpetrated upon them. After becoming aware of the incredibly strict limitations of house arrest, we have concluded that 120 days of house arrest, as well as three years formal probation ordered by Judge Cosgrove, is a real and direct threat to my life.
“Furthermore, we believe that sentencing me, when I am medically disabled and suffering from terminal cancer, to conditions that threaten my life, for misdemeanor possession of a mushroom stem and some tiny cactus buttons, is a violation of my Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment. As a result, I am notifying the probation department and other authorities that I cannot agree to the terms of electronic monitoring, probation, or the payment of any fines.”
After Kubby delivered the letter, he heard from the head of Placer County’s probation department. Instead of being angry and dictatorial, Kubby said, the bureaucrat was pleasant and open-minded.
“He told me that the probation department didn’t want me to go to jail,” Kubby said. “I told him I couldn’t comply with the terms of probation because the state had so damaged my family that we were left without enough money to supply myself with the house in which to serve out my house arrest term. I couldn’t pay the fine or probation costs that had been ordered, because the police and prosecutors bankrupted my family by falsely arresting me for growing medical marijuana. I couldn’t serve three years of formal probation because while a person is on probation, they have few if any legal rights, and it would only be a matter of time before a medical pot patient like me would be visited by police exercising their ‘right’ to a warrantless probation search. The entire sentence would have been like living in a prison.”
People who know the Kubbys were not surprised by Steve’s defiance. The Kubbys never admitted wrongdoing. They refused to accept plea bargains. They publicly protested the actions of police, prosecutors, and the state attorney generals. They instigated a recall campaign against the Placer County district attorney. Their definition of justice: full acquittal on all charges.
“The police stole two years of our life,” Michele Kubby said. “They owe us more than an apology. At sentencing, everyone should have said to us, ‘We’re sorry we ruined your life. We will compensate you for what we did. We won’t ever treat anybody else the way we treated you.’ Instead, we were given a three-year leash to choke on. Steve and I agreed it was better to get this settled right away.”
And now, Kubby has done what many marijuana defendants have longed to do: he has told the government he will not obey its commandments or be intimidated by its threats.
In early April, Kubby appeared in front of Judge John Cosgrove in the Auburn, California courtroom where he had been on trial. Representing himself without benefit of attorney, Kubby asserted that California’s newly-passed Proposition 36, which mandates treatment instead of jail or probation for drug offenders, should be applied to his misdemeanor convictions.
Cosgrove told Kubby to appear at a late April meeting regarding his status. At the hearing, a Placer County jail spokesperson told the court that the jail’s medical personnel would not be able to provide Kubby with medical marijuana or synthetic THC (Marinol) during the 120 day sentence Kubby would have to serve.
Kubby had been ordered to surrender himself for incarceration on May 11, but Cosgrove extended the deadline to July 20.
Cosgrove said that Kubby’s bid to be sentenced under Prop 36 was invalid because offenders sentenced to court-ordered drug counseling must totally abstain from using marijuna.
Kubby insists that serving jail time, and being deprived of marijuana, is “a death sentence.”
“The medical marijuana initiative passed by voters wasn’t difficult to understand, and the jury found that I was in legal possession of marijuana for medical purposes. Placer County officials are out of touch with their constituents, and they seem unwilling to accept, understand or accommodate Prop 215,” Kubby complained.
The 52-year-old author and advocate says he plans to run for California governor on the Libertarian ticket next year ? but only if he is alive.
“I wrote a book called The Politics of Consciousness, and part of it discussed courageous people who fought for freedom during the early days of the American Revolution,” Kubby says. “My feelings about this situation are best summed up by words uttered centuries ago by one of those revolutionaries who sacrificed his life to defeat tyrants: ‘Give me liberty, or give me death.'”