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Author: Wayne Wilson

His load lightened by a judge's order dismissing three lesser counts, attorney J. Tony Serra formally opened Steve and Michele Kubby's defense Tuesday by telling a jury the couple's marijuana garden complied with the law.

"This was a medical marijuana grow. It was never intended for sale," Serra declared as he extolled his client's dedication to the cause of Proposition 215, the initiative legalizing pot for medicinal use in California.

Serra said Steve Kubby was the movement's charismatic "fund-raiser" and spokesman.

"He could speak and they would donate. He raised thousands of dollars for medical marijuana. ... Proposition 215 would never have occurred without Steve Kubby," Serra said.

The Kubbys are on trial in Placer County Superior Court, charged with two counts of conspiracy, cultivation and possession for sale, and four counts of simple possession involving marijuana, hashish, a psychedelic mushroom stem and a minute quantity of mescaline.

Three additional counts -- alleging possession of an ingestion device by both Kubbys and unauthorized possession of a hypodermic needle by Steve Kubby -- were dismissed Tuesday by Judge John L. Cosgrove, who said no evidence had been offered by the prosecution to sustain those allegations.

About half the jurors and a few of the Kubbys' supporters in the gallery showed up for trial Tuesday in Halloween garb or makeup, a celebration approved beforehand by the judge. But the mood generated by Serra's opening statement was serious.

And it set the stage for what promises to be an aggressive defense.

Serra said the Kubbys had a sincere, 100 percent belief they were operating within the law when they grew the 265 plants that were seized by sheriff's deputies on Jan. 19, 1999.

They consulted with doctors and their attorneys long before their arrests and were assured their indoor grow was legal, Serra said.

Steve Kubby's initial efforts as a gardener were not successful, Serra told the jury. Invasions by spider mites and mold wiped him out in the beginning.

But Kubby studied growing techniques, purchased the necessary equipment and concentrated on the strains of marijuana that would assist him in his fight against adrenal cancer, Serra said. "One witness will come before you and testify that he saw Mr. Kubby burn 10 pounds of marijuana because it wasn't the strain that helped his kind of cancer," Serra told the jury.

Is that the act of a marijuana merchant? Serra asked.

The Kubby trial will return to Cosgrove's court Nov. 14 and is expected to be concluded by Thanksgiving.

MAP posted-by: Don Beck
Newshawk: Jay Bergstrom
Pubdate: Wed, 01 Nov 2000
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2000 The Sacramento Bee
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