Medical Marijuana Crusader to Face Jail

January 26, 2006

, Associated Press

Medical marijuana crusader Steve Kubby, a key figure behind California's voter-approved medical marijuana law, is back in the United States to face jail time on a drug conviction after spending years as a fugitive in Canada.

Kubby was arrested Thursday at San Francisco International Airport on a flight from Vancouver to face a 120-day jail sentence he received in 2001 in Placer County for possession of the hallucinogen mescaline, found in peyote, and psychedelic mushroom.

The case also included marijuana charges, but they were dropped after Kubby argued medical necessity.

Kubby said he needs marijuana to curb symptoms of a rare type of adrenal cancer and that he would suffer and die without it in jail.

Kubby fled to Canada after the 2001 conviction and repeatedly sought refugee status, claiming he was persecuted for his advocacy of medical marijuana use.

But a Canadian court rejected Kubby's appeals earlier this week and he was ordered to return to the U.S.

Following his arrest, he spent one night in San Mateo County jail on a no-bail warrant before being picked up Friday morning by Placer County authorities, said his defense lawyer, Bill McPike.

A hearing is set for Tuesday in Placer County, though McPike said he was not sure if Kubby would face additional charges for fleeing the country.

McPike said he plans to file a motion to allow Kubby to use medical marijuana in jail.

"The officials in Canada might be sending him back to a death sentence," McPike said.

Large crowds of medical marijuana advocates greeted Kubby at both ends of his flight, with supporters in San Francisco carrying signs that read "Welcome Home Steve Kubby" and "Free Steve Kubby."

Kubby, the 1998 Libertarian candidate for governor, gained attention when he helped write and lobby for the state's medical marijuana law. The law, approved by voters in 1996, decriminalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes under state law, but it remains illegal under federal law.

In rejecting his refugee claim, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board agreed that marijuana helps control Kubby's cancer symptoms but didn't believe his life would be at risk if he was returned to the United States.



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