Applause erupted in a Placer County courtroom Friday when a judge reduced t=
misdemeanors the felony drug convictions of medical marijuana activist Stev=
Kubby and dismissed all the remaining pot counts against him.

Kubby, 54, who now resides in Lake County but plans to move to British
Columbia as soon as he fulfills the conditions of probation, was fined
$2,700 and ordered to serve 120 days of alternative sentencing.

"The jail would not be an appropriate place for Mr. Kubby," said Judge John
L. Cosgrove, acknowledging Kubby=B9s claim that he needs pot to keep a rare
form of cancer from taking his life.

Loudly expressing their appreciation for the judge=B9s rulings were a couple
dozen proponents of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, the law that permits
seriously ill Californians to cultivate and use marijuana for medical

They had filled Cosgrove=B9s courtroom in support of their standard-bearer,
Kubby, the Libertarian Party=B9s candidate for governor in 1998.

And it turned out to be a banner day for the movement locally.

In addition to asking the judge to drop the marijuana case against Kubby an=
his wife, Michele, District Attorney Bradford Fenocchio also filed a motion
to halt the pending retrial of Roseville dentist Michael A. Baldwin and his
wife, Georgia, on similar charges.

Both couples were arrested after raids on their homes turned up gardens of
marijuana plants in various stages of cultivation.

And both claimed medical exemptions, citing doctors=B9 recommendations that
they use marijuana to treat physical ailments that had disrupted their live=
for years.

The Baldwins=B9 trial ended in May of 1999 with the jury deadlocked, leaning
slightly toward acquittal.

And the four-month Kubby trial concluded in December with the jury hung at
11-1, the majority voting that the Kubbys=B9 265-plant grow was for medicinal
use only. But that same panel returned guilty verdicts against Steve Kubby
for possessing minute quantities of psilocybin and mescaline found during
the Jan. 19, 1999, search of his home.

The psilocybin was contained in a single mushroom stem that Kubby said he
had obtained and studied years ago for a book he wrote on the religious
significance of psychedelic mushrooms.

And the mescaline was in the form of a "peyote button" that Kubby claimed h=
had never seen and must have been left in the house by a visitor.

The probation officer=B9s report noted that the amount of illegal narcotics
recovered was "extremely small" and that Kubby=B9s explanation for their
presence was "believable."

And Judge Cosgrove said those factors, along with Kubby=B9s "impeccably clean=
prior record, persuaded him to treat both offenses as misdemeanors.

But Kubby didn=B9t escape unscathed.

He will be subject to search and seizure for the three years he is on forma=
probation and will have to serve 120 days in an as-yet-to-be-determined
alternative sentencing program.

In the motion to dismiss the remaining counts against Kubby, Deputy Distric=
Attorney Christopher M. Cattran said the prosecutorial decision was "not a
comment on guilt or innocence, but rather an indictment of the vagueness,
whether intentional or unintentional," of the new law relating to medical

Cattran said the request to dismiss in no way reflected a lack of confidenc=
in the investigative efforts of the North Tahoe Narcotics Task Force or the
Placer County Sheriff=B9s Department.

But "because of the vagueness (of the law), inconsistent court rulings
interpreting the section and the remaining conflict with Federal law, a
second trial on the remaining counts is not prudent," Cattran wrote.

On behalf of DA Fenocchio, Cattran asked the California legislature "to
establish specific guidelines with respect to the amount of marijuana
appropriate for medical use."

And he pledged that, "Until the legislature speaks," the Placer County
prosecutors=B9 office "will work with law enforcement, citizens and health
care providers of this county and neighboring counties to establish
guidelines that provide guidance for law enforcement and a basis for
evaluation of each case."

Pubdate: Sat, Mar. 3, 2000
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2001 The Sacramento Bee
Address: P.O.Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852
Author: Wayne Wilson, Bee Staff Writer
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