Libertarian politician, medical marijuana user, and author Steve Kubby has filed a landmark lawsuit accusing government officials of violating civil rights and maliciously inflicting harm on him, his wife Michele, and his children during a 1999 drug raid.
Kubby and his wife were charged with nearly two dozen felonies, none of which were sustained by a trial jury.
The suit was filed by a team of attorneys from the respected California law firm of Halpern and Halpern, on June 18, 2001, in Placer County Superior Court. Although other medical marijuana patients have filed suit against Placer County and other government entities and individuals across the country, Kubby’s is the most far-reaching legal complaint, seeking $250 million in damages and compensation.
The document was filed as Kubby engages in a stand-off with Placer probation officials. He has refused to accept terms of probation arising from two misdemeanor convictions for a mushroom stem and a cacti. The misdemeanors arose out of the 1999 raid, which targeted Kubby’s medical marijuana grow room.
Kubby says Placer is threatening to jail him for refusing to pay $4500 in court costs and fines. Several weeks ago, Kubby told court officials he would not accept his convictions or comply with terms of probation, due to bankruptcy caused by the arrest, and because compliance would harm his health and cause him to voluntarily give up his civil rights.
The 53-year-old father of two, whose wife Michele has been a powerful defender of her freedom, husband and family, faces a late July court deadline in California. Kubby says he is unsure if he will return to the US because he might be illegally arrested and detained. He is currently in exile in Canada.
Readers of Cannabis Culture will remember that Kubby was a rising star in the California Libertarian political establishment during the 1998 governor’s campaign. He was a respectable businessman with an all-American family, and was willing to go on television holding a sticky homegrown bud in his hand while proclaiming that the war on drugs was a prime example of why California needed to elect a Libertarian governor.
Shortly after the election, on January 19,1999, 20 armed officers from four different agencies stormed the Kubbys’ Squaw Valley home. Armed with laser guided automatic weapons, body armor and a battering ram, a SWAT team from the North Tahoe Narcotics Task Force blocked off the Kubbys’ street, raided their home, and confiscated almost everything the Kubbys owned.
Kubby alleges that Placer officials violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, committed crimes including assault and battery, trespass and false imprisonment, deliberately inflicted emotional distress, bankrupted them, and violated Prop. 215, the medical marijuana law that Kubby helped pass in 1996.
The suit targets Placer County, sheriff Ed Bonner, District Attorney Brad Fenocchio, prosecutors Chris Cattran and Gene Geni, and lead investigator Michael Lyke. Kubby has reserved the right to sue other officials that are as yet unspecified.
If the lawsuit is not settled out of court and proceeds to trial, Kubby says, a jury will see “that the drug war has made criminals out of people who are supposed to uphold the law, and has made victims out of people who were obeying the law by medically using a healing plant.”
Kubby is battling on several fronts. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer intervened in Kubby’s case, offering unprecedented assistance to Placer officials who want to change Kubby’s misdemeanor convictions into felonies. Convicted felons cannot hold political office. Kubby’s advisors say Lockyer’s actions are designed to stop Kubby from running for governor in 2002.
“When we got arrested, we had no choice but to do what citizens of the United States are supposed to do- vigorously and publicly defend our constitutional rights,” Kubby said on the day the lawsuit was filed. “We do not consider ourselves to be radicals, revolutionaries, martyrs or freedom fighters. What we have done seems revolutionary because so few Americans know what their rights are and so few are willing to go all the way in insisting that those rights be respected. Government officials, and especially police, have to know that if they pursue their drug war, which is a total violation of everything that America is supposed to revere, they will be held accountable. This lawsuit holds them accountable.”
More Kubby on CC