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The Kubby Story
(and why it matters)
 


THE WRITER: David F. Nolan, is a founder of the Libertarian Party, the third largest political party in the United State and was recently honored as one of the "2000 Leading Intellectuals of the 20th Century," by the International Biographical Centre.




I first met Steve and Michele Kubby in February 1998, at the annual convention of the Libertarian Party of California.  They were there because Steve was seeking the Libertarian nomination for Governor, and they wanted to meet the convention delegates.  Steve was already fairly well-known in Libertarian circles because of the role he had played in passing Proposition 215 two years earlier, but few at the convention knew where he stood on other issues.

Proposition 215 was a ballot referendum allowing people who were using marijuana for medical purposes to obtain and use the herb legally in the state of California, and it passed by a wide margin: 55.6% in favor to 44.4% opposed.  Steve Kubby was active in the campaign for 215 because he is a medical marijuana user himself --- an adrenal cancer patient who had smoked several grams of pot each day for nearly 20 years.  He firmly believes that this is what kept him alive far longer than any doctor had expected him to survive.

The great majority of Libertarians had supported Proposition 215 with some enthusiasm, although many felt that it did not go far enough. The Libertarian Party's platform calls for the complete decriminalization of all drug use, on the grounds that no government has the right to prohibit any activity that is peaceful and voluntary.  Drug use may be stupid and personally destructive, Libertarians argue, but it's not the government's business to protect us from ourselves.

Thus, the question on many delegates' minds was "is Steve Kubby a real Libertarian who supports individual liberty across-the-board, or is he just a one-issue candidate?"  By the end of the convention, there was no doubt in their minds. Both Steve and Michele were consistent defenders of liberty. In addition, they projected a wholesome, all-American image: an attractive, outgoing couple whose appearance and behavior belies the United States government's ongoing campaign to depict all drug users as goofballs, losers and an all-around menace to society.

Steve secured the Libertarians' gubernatorial nomination by a unanimous vote, and proceeded to hit the campaign trail.  As with everything he does, Steve campaigned with a "take no prisoners" intensity; there is never any doubt where he stands on any issue.  He never missed an opportunity to take a shot at the Drug Warriors in California and at the national level. They were the enemy, he stated, contemptible because of their continuing persecution of sick people.

The results on Election Day were disappointing. Steve received only 73,845 votes out of nearly 8.4 million cast for the office of Governor. This was due in part to the fact that a better-known Green Party candidate also made marijuana decriminalization an issue in his campaign. Additionally, Steve did not receive the financial backing he had expected from people who had contributed heavily to the campaign for Proposition 215 two years earlier.

Unfortunately, while he failed to gain the attention of most California voters, Steve Kubby was being watched intently by the very people he was attacking in his campaign speeches.  The house where he and Michele were living near Lake Tahoe had been placed under surveillance, and his remarks on the campaign trail were being followed and recorded by the Drug Warriors.  This is the sort of thing one would expect in the old East Germany or the former Soviet Union, not what we like to believe occurs in modern-day America.

On January 19, 1999, two months after the campaign ended, twenty heavily armed officers from the Placer County sheriff's department raided the Kubbys' home. The invading officers found a number of marijuana plants under cultivation - in a room where copies of Proposition 215, which made this legal, were prominently posted.

Steve and Michele were carted off to jail, where they were detained in a poorly heated cell.  Steve was not allowed to use any medication, and his health began to deteriorate rapidly.

If you are like most people, you will be shocked and disgusted by the persecution that the Kubbys have endured because Drug War zealots have steadfastly refused to obey the laws of the State of California, choosing instead to persecute sick people and advance their own agenda.

In the words of Michele Kubby, there is little doubt that the actions taken against Steve - and the extraordinary lengths that State and Federal prosecutors have gone to in their pursuit of the Kubby family - were "politically motivated and amounted to persecution for [Steve's] role in legalizing medical cannabis use in California."

The story of the Kubbys' ordeal is at once horrifying and inspiring.  It is horrifying because it illustrates how far things have gotten out of hand in the United States of America; how the insane "War on Drugs" has become an all-purpose weapon to silence and destroy those opposed to those in power, and has pushed America to the brink of becoming a police state.  Whenever a government has the power to arrest and punish people simply for owning and peacefully using any item or substance (drugs, firearms, gold, reading material, etc.) the rights and liberties of the people are in peril.

Steve and Michele Kubby, like all Libertarians, understand this principle. And their great personal courage in defending their rights is what makes their story inspiring to all who love liberty.