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How To Murder A Medical-Marijuana Political Prisoner
FILED 01/18/00

Over just three days in jail, Kubby suffered a series of classic hypertensive crises. He could have had a crippling stroke, or died from cardiac arrest. And the police knew all about his condition.

Barely a month before his medical-marijuana trial, due to start on February 15 in Auburn, CA, Steve Kubby is methodically arranging to put his arresting officers and prosecutors themselves in the defense dock after him. Last week the 1998 Libertarian Party candidate for California Governor filed charges of attempted murder against several individual Placer County law officers, detailing in graphic, prosecutorial detail how close they came to killing him after his arrest there on January 19, 1999.

Steve and Michele Kubby with 'Anna Boyce, RN', Founders of the American Medical Marijuana Association.
Kubby, current national director of the American Medical Marijuana Association, specifies in his complaint how the Placer County authorities had to be aware when they arrested him that he suffers from a malignant form of adrenal-gland cancer which, if left unmedicated for only a few hours, could cripple or kill him by a sudden hypertensive stroke or heart attack. During the three days they kept him unmedicated in the Auburn jail after his arrest, Kubby suffered a series of classic hyertensive crises, vomiting uncontrollably and going blind in one eye. Repeated written appeals he made went ignored, Kubby states, by his keepers at the jail. In fact, as the complaint details, Kubby and his wife Michele (also a medical patient) were viciously mocked and taunted by Placer County officers during their arrests, and afterward in custody.

Mockery of patients by arresting officers, and refusal of medications while incarcerated, are hardly unusual in California medical-pot prosecutions, and in fact appear to be a premeditated police routine in many rural jurisdictions like Placer County. In the case of Steve Kubby, however, the evidence is clear that his prosecutors had to be explicitly aware in advance that his particular medical condition could easily have killed him while in their custody unmedicated. Moreover his sole medication--cannabis--is uniquely efficacious at treating his unique condition, as attested by his physicians. And how should the cops have known that? Because Kubby advised them of it himself, weeks before he was arrested, in his garbage.

A Political Bust Uncovers A Medical Miracle
The investigation of Steve and Michele Kubby at their Squaw Valley home in Placer County was predicated on an anonymous letter, accusing them vaguely of being pot users, which was received in mid-1998 by the sheriff of El Dorado County, far downstate. This letter was routinely "handed off" to Placer County authorities by an El Dorado detective who clearly cautioned, "The information is weak and non-specific." Nonetheless, Placer authorities used this anonymous accusation as the pretext to open a case on Steve Kubby, who at the time was running for governor on the Libertarian Party platform, hotly criticizing the erstwhile Republican Attorney General of California, Dan Lungren, for prosecuting medical-marijuana patients in contravention of the state's 1996 medical-marijuana law. Since Lungren and his family were (and are) long-term residents of Placer County, and politically very influential in the GOP-dominated administration there, Kubby has always viewed his prosecution as basically a political "payback" for helping to unseat AG Lungren and the rest of the Sacramento GOP administration in the November 1998 elections.

Of course, not everyone in the Placer County administration is a card-carrying Republican, and within days after the police there opened their case on Kubby, he got wind of it, he explains in his court challenge. Aware that the police would be snooping through his garbage (which in fact they were doing), he purposely left messages they could not possibly have overlooked, identifying his medical condition and outlining the consequences if his medication routine were interrupted even for a few hours.

Kubby's specific condition, which is described at length in medical documents in his court papers, is a malignant form of "pheochromocytoma," involving cancerous forms of adrenal-gland cells which migrate through the body, producing uncontrollable blood levels of powerful adrenal hormones like adrenaline (epinephrine), and norepenephrine. Persons afflicted with malignant pheochromocytoma typically die within months after diagnosis, usually from extreme hypertensive crises like cerebral stroke or cardiac arrest, caused by overwhelming sudden bloodstream surges of epinephrine and NR.

Cops And Docs Converge On Kubby
Steve Kubby, however, is still alive and in excellent health nearly 16 years after his initial diagnosis with malignant pheochromocytoma: the only such case on medical record, in fact. Ironically, the doctor who diagnosed him in 1984 with this notoriously terminal condition--Dr. Vincent DeQuattro, now a leading adrenal-cancer expert at the University of Southern California Medical Center--had no idea that he'd somehow survived with this deadly illness, until DeQuattro saw Kubby's picture and biography in the official California Voter's Guide to the 1998 elections. Astonished, DeQuattro contacted Kubby before the election and arranged to have him examined--at about the very same time, ironically, that the Placer County authorities began surveilling the Kubbys' Squaw Valley home for evidence of marijuana cultivation.

The North Tahoe Task Force
And so it happened that when the paramilitary North Tahoe Task Force raided Kubby's home on Jan. 19, they found plenty of notices posted in clear view on the premises, entitled ATTENTION LAW ENFORCEMENT, that detailed the nature of his illness, his legally authorized use of marijuana for it, and the likely consequences for him of incarceration without medication. It will be interesting to see, then, what defenses these officers may raise in answer to Kubby's allegations of attempted murder.

72 Hours of Unmedicated Incarceration
"During the entire three days I was incarcerated in the Auburn jail," Kubby details in his complaint, "my tormentors mocked me and my wife as medical-marijuana patients, going out of their way to punish us. Both of us were exposed to freezing conditions, and my wife contracted pneumonia as a result.

"I spent the entire night shivering and vomiting and could not even get a second blanket for my concrete holding cell. I recall one of my tormentors was a tall, muscular deputy named 'Davis,' who threatened me physically because I was too sick to complete the intake procedure.

"On January 21st, I was in my cell vomiting into the toilet and, against my repeated objections, I was forced to attend breakfast where my bouts of vomiting could be witnessed by the rest of the inmates who were trying to eat their meal. I recall this deputy had a name similar to 'Zanzabar,' and he insisted on me attending breakfast despite my written objection. I also filed a written objection about my left eye going blind, and not receiving even a medical examination."

They Didn't KNOW?
In their defense, it could be argued that Kubby's jailhouse keepers, at least, could have been ignorant of his unique medical history. Dr. DeQuattro, examining Kubby nearly 16 after his terminal diagnosis, securely determined that over all that time, marijuana was the only medication he'd been taking. Having undergone initial remission after "chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and all other known drugs" specific for pheochromocytoma, Kubby determined that for the long run, "only marijuana has helped, and I depend on it to stay alive."

"In some amazing fashion," Di Quattro subsequently advised the judge in Kubby's case, "this medication has not only controlled the symptoms of pheochromocytoma, but in my view, has arrested growth" of the cancer. "Every other patient than Steve, with Steve's condition, has died in the interval of time [that Kubby has had the disease.] Steve was the only survivor."

DeQuattro's letter to the judge, attached as an exhibit in Kubby's complaint, calls his survival "a miracle," and stipulates that "this miracle, in part, is related to the therapy with marijuana. Marijuana contains many substances which can neutralize the effects of epinephrine and norepenephrine on the heart and vascular tissue. Several are important anti-oxidants, like vitamins C and vitamin E."

That is, some of the cannabinoids in marijuana have long been shown to have the same effects as vitamins in counteracting the generation and spread of cancerous "neoplasms" in the human body, like the rogue adrenal cells produced in malignant pheochromocytosis. And cannabinoids have also been shown to counteract the hypertensive effects of the stimulant hormones overproduced by those rogue adrenal-cancer cells.

And what happens if those cannabinoids aren't available? Kubby's condition will go on erratically producing surges of NR, Dr. DeQuattro's letter warns, and possibly epinephrine as well: "Either compound in minute quantities could kill him instantly by causing sudden cardiac arrest due to navythmia, sudden cardiac death due to acute myocardial infarction, or sudden death due to cerebral hemorrhage or cerebral vascular occlusion."

Preston Peet - Special to HT News