U.S. man claims he will be persecuted for marijuana use if he's returned to
California

Steve Kubby took a final toke, tucked away the rest of his pot in a pill
bottle and entered the federal building to deliver opening remarks at his
own refugee hearing.

The medical-marijuana crusader is seeking asylum in Canada on grounds he
will be persecuted for pot use if returned to his home in Placer County,
Calif.

"Many people are completely shocked by someone seeking refugee status from
the United States of America," said Kubby, who smokes large quantities of
marijuana to control symptoms of a rare adrenal cancer.

He claims that without toking every hour, he could die.

Paulah Dauns, the Immigration and Refugee Board member presiding over
Kubby's hearing, was sympathetic to his needs and granted him regular smoke
breaks.

Cancer specialists agree Kubby's pot intake reduces his risk of a heart
attack by controlling blood-pressure spikes, rapid heart beats, headaches
and chest pains caused by the over-production of adrenaline.

The medical evidence was convincing enough for Health Canada officials, who
last fall granted him permission to grow and smoke pot for medicinal
purposes.

Kubby claims evidence at his hearing will prove that in the U.S., medical
users like himself are systematically persecuted.

American police, prosecutors and judges "cannot be trusted . . . and have
secretly conspired to violate the law," said Kubby, referring to
California's Proposition 215, which allows for the medical use of marijuana.

Lawyer Gordon Starr, opposing Kubby's refugee bid on behalf of Canada's
Citizenship and Immigration Department, dismissed his claim as preposterous.

"The United States is a free and democratic country," said Starr.

Canada's closest neighbour "does a very good job protecting the rights of
its citizens."

The true reason Kubby fled the U.S. was to escape consequences of a drug
conviction, Starr said.

Kubby was convicted of possessing peyote and one magic-mushroom stem and
found not guilty of any marijuana offences.

The trial was fair, Starr said.

Kubby was dressed in a blue pin-striped suit, but was not feeling well and
wrapped his legs in a ski jacket to ward off a chill. His wife Michelle was
dressed in a red suit and took charge of his case.

The Kubbys' corporate appearance was in stark contrast to their handful of
supporters. Among them were marijuana legalization activist David Malmo
Levine and John West, a hippie from Hornby Island who claims he experienced
"immediate religious experiences" with his first toke.

Steve Kubby's key witness, and the first to take the stand, was Patrick
McCartney, a former journalist from Placer County. McCartney left his job at
the Auburn Journal in 2001 to research a book about the rift between U.S.
federal and state governments over medicinal-use-of-marijuana laws.

Toting a knapsack full of documents, McCartney travelled to Vancouver from
his home near Sacramento, Calif., to assist Kubby's case.

McCartney said his documents show there has been a concerted effort by
federal and state law-enforcement officials to undermine Proposition 215
since the day it was passed.

The strategy involves intimidating doctors who prescribe medical marijuana
and seeking out evidence showing that medical users are trafficking drugs.

The hearing is expected to last eight days.


Pubdate: Thu, 06 Mar 2003
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Webpage: http://mapinc.org/cancom/126d26b9-eca0-4308-8691-8368ac46dac7
Copyright: 2003 The Province
Contact: provletters@pacpress.southam.ca
Website: http://www.canada.com/vancouver/theprovince/