Activist arrives, is jailed

January 26, 2006

Herbert A. Sample and Art Campos, Sacramento Bee

Having exhausted all appeals to remain in Canada, medical marijuana activist Steven Wynn Kubby returned to the United States on Thursday evening, only to be whisked away by police before a crowd of more than two dozen supporters could greet him.

Kubby, 58, was removed from the Alaska Airlines jet by San Francisco police officers at the request of sheriff's officials in Placer County, where he faces a 120-day jail sentence for a drug conviction in 2000. He was then taken through secure areas of the airport to a squad car, and transported to the Redwood City jail.

His lawyer, Bill McPike, said he had already arranged for Kubby to turn himself in to the Placer Superior Court on Tuesday.

Kubby ran for governor of California in 1998 on a pro-medical marijuana platform and helped write Proposition 215, the 1996 voter-approved law allowing the medicinal use of marijuana. He contends he will die in jail if he is not allowed to use marijuana to keep his rare form of adrenal cancer in remission.

"He's under extreme stress," McPike said. "What that stress will do to his organs, I can't tell you.

"It could be a death sentence if he doesn't get his medication," McPike added.

Under normal circumstances, Kubby ingests marijuana in one form or another every 30 minutes, McPike said.

Waiting to greet Kubby were several medical marijuana advocates, many of whom use it on a daily basis. They held signs that read: "Welcome Home Steve Kubby" and "Free Steve Kubby."

As San Francisco Police Sgt. Mike Hughes explained how Kubby was taken into custody on his plane, someone yelled, "Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the dead."

"I think it's really an injustice," said Walter Henry Jones, 61, of San Francisco. Jones said he uses marijuana regularly to aid a bipolar condition and a heart ailment, adding, "I can't get out of bed without it."

Dale Gieringer of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws said Kubby "exemplifies what Proposition 215 was about. He is somebody who really relies on marijuana for his life. And it would really be a crime for Placer County to deprive him of his medicine."

McPike said Kubby was met at the Vancouver, British Columbia, airport by Canadian authorities, who searched his luggage and met with him privately for more than an hour.

Hughes said Kubby was cooperative when he was arrested. "He was very polite. He knew we had the warrant," Hughes said. "There was no problem at all."

McPike said he immediately called Kubby's wife in Canada, "She's crying and everything else, worried about his health," he said.

While Hughes said his department was asked to arrest Kubby, Lt. George Malim of the Placer County Sheriff's Department suggested earlier Thursday that the decision to arrest would be up to San Francisco.

"We've left it up to them as to whether they want to arrest him when the plane lands," he said.

Kubby had sought refuge in Canada in 2001 after his drug conviction in Placer County.

Canadian courts, however, ordered him out of the country earlier this week, rejecting his appeals to be granted status as an American cancer patient and medical marijuana refugee.

Kubby's case in Placer County dates back to 1999 when sheriff's deputies raided his Olympic Valley home near Lake Tahoe, finding 265 marijuana plants that Kubby said he needed to treat his cancer.

The officers also found small amounts of mescaline, the active ingredient in peyote, and hallucinogenic mushrooms that contain the banned substance psilocyn.

The charges of marijuana possession and cultivation were dismissed after a jury voted 11-1 for acquittal, but the panel found him guilty of felony possession of the mescaline and psilocyn.

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