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By Steve Kubby

Police say things like, "We don't make the laws, we just enforce them," and, "If you don't like the law, then change it." In 1996, Proposition 215 was placed on the California ballot and approved by 55.6 percent of voters.

We soon learned that police do enforce the laws- but do NOT tolerate people changing them. The California attorney general, and the police establishment originally campaigned against our initiative, using
public money; they also issued the following warning about Prop. 215 in the official Voter Pamphlet: "This initiative allows unlimited
quantities of marijuana to be grown anywhere ... without any regulation or restrictions. ... It is marijuana legalization."

However, once the initiative passed, the same officials announced that Prop. 215 is "only an affirmative defense."

Outraged by these efforts to gut 215, I decided- with the help of friends- to run for governor so I could speak out about this assault on American values and principles. The Libertarian Party graciously accorded me their first-ever unanimous nomination, so I campaigned for governor of California, hounding my opponent, Attorney General Dan
Lungren and faulting him as a Republican who ignored states' rights and sought to undo the results of an election.

Trials and Tribulations

We were soon under surveillance. We would learn later that four agencies began investigating us on the basis of an unsigned letter alleging no more than we had stated publicly: we were growing our own medical marijuana. Friends warned us to be careful; word was out that the police intended to punish us. Angry that such tactics would be used against us, we decided to turn the tables and create a test cas upholding 215 and exposing rogue police and prosecutors in the process.

With the help of attorneys and activist friends, we carefully documented the medical marijuana garden Michele and I were cultivating; we even sent a note- via the garbage we knew they were searching-
informing them I had cancer; we both had doctor recommendations, and were growing our medical marijuana as provided by the new law. Our "trash note" even invited the police to inspect our crop.

Although later admitting they had read the note in our trash, our status as patients meant nothing to them; they continued to spy until Jan. 19, 1999, when a 20 member SWAT team in body armor and carrying laser guided rifles raided our home. We can only wonder why such force was needed against an unarmed couple and a child.

We had based our garden on guidelines adopted by the Oakland City Council,- based in turn on the 7.1 pounds of medical marijuana the federal government provides annually to each of eight recognized patients.

Those guidelines allow 144 plants each, or 288 indoor plants, which were expected to produce a one-year, 7-pound supply. On walls leading to the garden we posted a copies of 215 and the Oakland Guidelines, as well the attorney general's notice that patients presenting a credible physician's recommendation should have their gardens left intact after photos and samples had been taken.

Instead, the prosecutors had the police arrest us; we were treated as common criminals, and $200,000 bail requested. Although not disobeying any law, we were treated as if guilty and stripped of virtually every protection guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

It's been 614 days since our arrest; although we managed to have bail waived, the police took virtually everything we owned, including the equipment essential to our business; we were forced into bankruptcy.
We have also been forced to deal with my cancer and obtaining the medical marijuana that keeps me alive. To defend ourselves, we have had to retain eight different attorneys to defend our constitutional rights against seven different judges- most of whom wanted to disallow a 215 defense, because it would, "confuse the jury!" For the past 560 days
our family (now four) has been forced to live in other people's homes.

We have raised and spent about $200,000 through our defense fund and finally have the attorneys, defense,and witnesses needed to take this issue back to the people, and accomplish in the jury box what was denied at the ballot box -- implementation of our rights. We are halfway through a three month trial and confident that the jury already
sees our innocence. Further, people are beginning to understand this issue is no more about marijuana than the Boston Tea Party was about tea

It's about freedom, the Bill of Rights and using juries to force the government to respect those rights, just as Thomas Jefferson and the Founders intended.