VANCOUVER (CP) - An American refugee who feared being persecuted at home for
smoking pot to fight a rare form of cancer has lost his bid to stay in Canada.

Steve Kubby did not have reasonable grounds to fear cruel and unusual
and therefore does not need protection, the Immigration and Refugee Board ruled
Monday. "There are no substantial grounds to believe that his removal to the
United states will subject him personally to a danger of torture," adjudicator
Paulah Dauns said in her written decision. Kubby's wife Michele and their two
young daughters were also denied asylum in Canada for the same reasons.

Kubby, 57, said he will appeal to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial
review of the case and may hire a lawyer to represent him as he carries on his

The family would otherwise have to leave Canada within 30 days.

"We were just stunned when we saw the decision because it was just completely
contrary to the testimony and the science and the evidence that we introduced,"
Kubby said from Sechelt, B.C., where he and his family sought asylum in May

"We really think this decision is not only erroneous but a bigoted decision."

Kubby, who once made an unsuccessful run for governor of California, was
permission by Health Canada to grow and smoke pot for medical reasons in August

A cancer specialist told the hearing that Kubby, who suffers from adrenal
cancer, would die within four days of not smoking marijuana.

Dr. Joseph Connors of the B.C. Cancer Agency said in April that Kubby has a
large malignant tumour resulting from the cancer and that pot helps lower the
excessive level of a chemical called catecholamine in his blood.

The former Lake Tahoe, Calif., resident often toked up in a parking lot during
breaks in the hearing for which he did not have a lawyer. His wife sometimes
represented him.

Kubby was diagnosed with cancer in 1968 and given only a few years to live. He
had surgery to remove an aggressive tumour and also received chemotherapy and
radiation treatment.

He said his life has been prolonged because he smokes marijuana, something a
friend suggested after Kubby became ill.

Kubby was convicted in the United States of possessing peyote and one magic
mushroom stem and found not guilty of any marijuana offences.

But he said three days in jail without pot almost killed him.

"I am really between a rock and a hard place," he said.

"If I go back to the United States I'm facing an immediate bailiff's warrant.
They'll put me in jail. They're not going to give me marijuana."

California passed Proposition 215 seven years ago to allow medicinal marijuana
but patients who use it are still prosecuted by the United States' federal

"We believe that the United States has become so corrupted by the drug war that
they no longer will pay attention even if the voters pass a law," Kubby said.

"Under those circumstances and under my life-and-death medical necessity for
cannabis my family, my friends and myself, we're not willing to take that risk

"These people seem determined to want to put me in a prison cell to see if I'm
really telling the truth, that I have life and death medical necessity for
medical cannabis."

Kubby's wife Michele said she was disappointed at the decision by "a

"This is my husband's life. We have no other option but to fight. And nowhere
else in the world do we get the access that we do to Steve's medicine like here
in Canada."

Canadian Alliance party MP Randy White said Canada has spent enough time and
effort to reject Kubby's refugee claim.

"What makes it even worse is there are more American refugee applications
pending using the same defence that we as Canadian taxpayers will have to waste
money on, not to mention Kubby's expected appeal."

Lois Reimer, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration, said that if the
federal court rules against Kubby, he would still have the option of providing
more evidence to suggest he would face persecution in the United States.

Source: Canadian Press
Pubdate: December 8, 2003
Author: Camille Bains