Wife of failed U.S. medical marijuana refugee pleads to stay in Canada

January 08, 2006

, 940 News Montreal

The wife of a California man who uses marijuana to ease his cancer symptoms wept outside Federal Court on Monday after pleading her family's case to prevent his deportation.

"I need to ask the Canadian people for help, because I'm losing the battle against saving my husband's life," Michele Kubby cried. Kubby argued on behalf of her husband Steve, who was too ill to attend the hearing.

"To remove him from Canada is like removing a diabetic from his insulin," Kubby told Justice Yvon Pinard.

Kubby, his wife and two young daughters, had been told to voluntarily leave Canada by Thursday or they will be forcibly removed.

Pinard reserved his decision on the application for a stay of the deportation order without giving a date for judgment, but he confirmed the family wouldn't be removed from the country before he made his ruling.

The Kubbys' application is the culmination of a lengthy legal and refugee claim process the family has been through since arriving from the United States in 2001.

Steve Kubby, who has adrenal cancer, was allowed to smoke medical marijuana in California and was acquitted in a U.S. court when caught growing more than 260 marijuana plants at his home.

However, he was convicted of possessing a small amount of mescaline and one stem from a magic mushroom. He was sentenced to three months of house arrest.

Kubby escaped to Canada shortly after the conviction and made an unsuccessful refugee claim to stay in the country.

Michele Kubby said her husband won't get the care he needs in jail, and certainly won't be able to smoke marijuana while serving his time.

"Protect us from the zero-tolerance policy of the United States that will remove his medicine from him," she said.

Keith Reimer, a lawyer for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, told the court the case comes down to the refugee board's decision.

"It found . . . there is protection for medical marijuana users in the U.S," he said.

"For him to say 'I would be thrown in jail and allowed to die' is speculative."

Michele Kubby said the penalty for fleeing could bring a mandatory three-to four-year jail sentence, on top of his current sentence.

"He will not survive in jail that long. And I am terrified, terrified for my family."

Lawyer Douglas Wiatt, who has defended many medical marijuana patients in Washington state, attended Monday's hearing.

Outside court, he said a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has changed the tone around medical marijuana use.

"The fact that anyone up here in Canada thinks that a medical marijuana patient is going to be treated well in the United States, it's a myth," Wiatt said.

"My prediction for Mr. Kubby is he's a dead man if he winds up going back to the United States, because I don't think they'll get him out of jail fast enough."

One of the couple's two daughters, nine-year-old Brooke, sat in the court gallery while her mother argued before the justice.

Brook was surrounded by a dozen of Kubby's supporters, including Marc Emery, who's fighting an extradition proceeding to the United States where he's charged with operating a marijuana seed growing company.

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