Medical Marijuana: Steve Kubby Jailed and Suffering in California 2/3/06

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His four-year odyssey as a medical marijuana refugee ended by a Canadian government deportation order last week, Steve Kubby returned to his home state of California to begin serving a 120-day jail sentence he said he feared would be the death of him. Kubby suffers from a rare form of adrenal cancer that causes adrenaline production to spike, threatening him with strokes or other life-threatening medical consequences. He left for Canada in 2001 after being raided for his medical marijuana garden and ultimately being convicted of possession of a peyote bud and dried magic mushroom stems.

He was arrested last Thursday night when he flew into San Francisco and is now housed at the Placer County Jail in Auburn, just east of Sacramento. He is being prescribed Marinol, the synthetic cannabinoid medication, but says that it does not have the same alleviating effect as marijuana. Marinol contains only one of the hundreds of cannabinoids found in raw marijuana.

"The Marinol does not provide the level of protection that I receive from cannabis," Kubby said Wednesday, "but it provides enough protection so that I have not had any more full-blown, hypertensive paroxysms."

In phoned conversations from the Placer County Jail made available online, Kubby described health problems, but said he respected the medical staff and felt he was "in good care." He complained of blood in the urine last Friday: "They checked me in on Friday, and I had just had one of the worst blood-pressure attacks of my life, which is what probably started the bleeding in my urine from the kidneys. I come in there. I'm 170 over 120, I've got chest pains for the first time in my life, scared silly to be honest with you, and I'm pissing blood. And I don't get any medical care until Monday, I don't see anyone until Monday. Well, that was bad. But once they found out what was going on, they were all over me, doing everything they could do to help me. These are actually very dedicated, very qualified people. The jail people are really treating me well." By yesterday, Kubby reported improvement. "The swelling and agonizing pain of my kidneys is finally, finally letting up, and I'm not passing any more blood. So, that alone is enough to make me feel a lot better. It's very disconcerting to see blood coming out your urine. Pink on few occasions, red on a few occasions."

Kubby appeared in state court Tuesday to ask for house arrest or to be allowed to use medicinal marijuana while jailed. Although California law recognizes medical marijuana, no correctional facility in the state allows prisoners access to this particular medicine. The hearing also addressed the issue of whether Placer County would attempt to try Kubby for probation violation for fleeing the state. He could face up to three additional years in prison if tried and convicted on that charge.

"It may be that we will force the courts under a writ of mandamus to uphold the law as it is written, that I am entitled to marijuana in jail," Kubby said in a Tuesday call. "And if they want to play games with me, fine. At least I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that hundreds of thousands of prisoners, who deserve their medical-marijuana rights to be upheld, will be upheld once we establish this important precedent. So, they may succeed in killing me, but they're going to have to deal with medical marijuana statewide in all the jails before they're successful."

Joining Kubby in court were his attorney, Bill McPike, and dozens of supporters and well-wishers. Kubby supporters have been loud in demanding he be treated properly while imprisoned and have demonstrated in front of the court house, as well as repeatedly calling the jail to gain reassurance that his health remains intact. Those protests, and numerous calls to the jail about his health paid off, Kubby said, adding that no one need call the jail anymore.

"He looked really bad," McPike told reporters and supporters outside the courthouse. Kubby has complained of weight loss since jailed, but was buoyed by the outpouring of support, McPike said.

Among Kubby advocates was Clark Sullivan of Hemp Evolution, who has been key in organizing support for the coauthor of California's medical marijuana law and former Libertarian Party candidate for governor. "I'm an advocate for a lot of medical marijuana users and don't always know who they are," Sullivan said. "I'm here to support Steve and to demand that the Placer County authorities allow him to use medical cannabis as his doctor has prescribed."

Kubby will be back in court today to see if the judge has ruled on his request for house arrest, his request to be allowed to medicate with marijuana while in jail, and whether he will face additional charges. Stay tuned.

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Issue #421 -- 2/3/06

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Feature: Afghan Opium Conundrum -- Four Years On, the West Searches for Answers | Feature: SSDP Sues Department of Education in Freedom of Information Act Dispute | Feature: Drug Policy Alliance Issues First Congressional Drug Policy Voter Guide | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Medical Marijuana: Steve Kubby Jailed and Suffering in California | HEA Reform: Congress Passes Partial Reform to Law Barring Financial Aid to Students with Drug Convictions | Medical Marijuana: New Mexico Bill Clears Senate, Heads for House as Clock Ticks | Marijuana: Alaska Governor's Bid to Recriminalize Marijuana Backfires as House Rejects Combined "Methijuana" Bill | Europe: Italy Poised for Giant Step Backward on Drug Policy | Latin America: Mexico's Drug War Erupts Bloodily in Acapulco | Web Scan: Richard Paey on Sixty Minutes, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Opportunities: Drug Policy Alliance, Full-Time Legislative Assistant and Part-Time Office Manager | Job Opportunity: Publications Coordinator for Students for Sensible Drug Policy and DanceSafe | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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