Pot advocate faces trial

AUBURN, Calif. - The trial of a former California gubernatorial candidate arrested for growing marijuana is scheduled to begin Tuesday.

Steven Kubby, the 1998 Libertarian candidate for governor, and Michelle Kuby, face 19 criminal counts alleging the 265 marijuana plants found growing in their Olympic Valley home were not for personal medical use. Since their Jan. 19, 1999 arrest, the Placer County District Attorney's Office has aggressively pursued the case against the couple, both significant players in passing the Compassionate Use Act of 1996,.

Last week, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Cattran revealed the prosecution has records from a personal bank account that show an influx of more than $100,000 during an 18-month period. The money is mostly cash with a few checks, he added. The name connected with the money is Jeff Jones of the Oakland Cannabis Club.

The Kubbys vehemently denied the prosecutor's implication the money is connected to drug sales. They said the funds were raised for political campaigns, such as Steven Kubby's gubernatorial race and the passage of Proposition 215. Jones served as their political treasurer, the Kubbys said.

"That was a cheap shot, absolutely false and we'll prove it in court," a visibly angry Steven Kubby said after the hearing.

During the time the case has bounced around the Placer County court system, it has encountered more than its fair share of delays. Superior Court Judge John L. Cosgrove denied two defense motions that would have further delayed a trial.

A motion for a continuance was filed by the defense to allow time to investigate a prosecution expert witness whose name was revealed only two weeks ago. The prosecution's original expert witnes, Mick Mollica, a 20-year state narcotics officer with the Drug Enforcement Agency, was relieved of official duties roughly three months ago for undisclosed reasons.

"The (prosecution's) tactic, in essence, has been to accuse people of selling marijuana through witnesses who said they had too much," said J. David Nick, attorney for Michele Kubby. "I'm put in a position where I cannot conduct a cross-examination of the most important centerpiece of the prosecution's case."

Cosgrove also denied an emergency motion for a continuance filed because San Francisco attorney J. Tony Serra, whose firm represents Steven Kubby, is working through an attempted murder trial involving an in-custody client. Cosgrove also would not allow Carolyn Hagin, an associate in Serra's firm who has handled the pretrial motions, to withdraw as attorney of record.

"I hope so," Hagin said after the hearing when asked if she could handle trying the case. She added Serra might be in Auburn for the start of the trial. If he doesn't make it, Hagin will begin her trial career with the state's highest-profile case testing the limits of Proposition 215.

Additionally, Hagin requested a shortened trial day of between four and five hours to accommodate Steven Kubby's medical condition. Kubby suffers from malignant pheochromocytoma, a rare form of adrenal cancer that causes the amount of adrenaline in his body to rise to life-threatening levels.

Kubby maintains that medical marijuana, for which he possesses a doctor's recommendation, keeps in check his adrenaline levels. In March, former attorney Dale Wood said Kubby must medicate - smoke marijuana - roughly every hour-and-a-half.


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