Kubby Mistrial; Clinton Hypocrisy
Hung jury ends Kubby medical marijuana trial
WASHINGTON, DC -- The medical marijuana trial of Steve and Michele Kubby has ended in a mistrial after a "hopelessly deadlocked" jury voted 11-1 in favor of acquitting the former Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate and his wife.
After deliberating for 21 hours over five days, the eight- woman, four-man jury in Auburn, California said on Thursday it could not reach a verdict on the most significant charges against the Kubbys -- conspiracy, cultivation, and possession of marijuana with intent to sell.
After the trial, a jury spokesman said even though there was overwhelming consensus that the Kubbys were not guilty of the marijuana charges, one lone juror refused to agree, and "there was no way she could be convinced."
However, Steve Kubby was convicted of what a local newspaper called "comparably minor" drug charges of possession of a controlled substance, psilocyn and peyote. Michele Kubby was acquitted of those charges.
During the four-month trial, the Kubbys had argued they were legitimate medical marijuana patients who took the drug under doctor's orders, and were protected by Proposition 215, the state law that legalized medical marijuana.
"We stood and fought and defended the rights of sick people," said Steve Kubby after the trial. "We hope this [decision] creates a bright line for law enforcement."
Steve Kubby was the LP's gubernatorial candidate in California in 1998, and sought the party's vice presidential nomination in 2000. He also played a key role in Proposition 215, which was passed by voters in 1996.
The 11 members of the jury who voted to acquit were apparently swayed by the so-called Oakland Guidelines. Written by the city of Oakland, the guidelines allow patients to grow up to 144 marijuana plants for medical reasons.
"The important thing is the jury upheld the Oakland Guidelines," said Steve Kubby. "Everything else is really superfluous."
Other California counties have more restrictive medical marijuana guidelines, and the failure to convict the Kubbys could convince them to reconsider those policies, said the Kubbys' lawyer, J. Tony Serra.
The mistrial decision was "mostly good news" for the medical marijuana movement, said Libertarian Party National Director Steve Dasbach.
"It's great news that 11 of 12 jurors voted in favor of medical marijuana, and voted against the government's effort to put sick people in jail," he said. "It's bad news that the 12th juror didn't have the good sense or compassion to agree, and refused to acquit the Kubbys of all charges.
"But after spending two years attacking the Kubbys, and hundreds of thousands of dollars on the trial, the hung jury will make prosecutors leery about arresting and charging future medical marijuana patients."
California Libertarians have a "mixture of elation, disappointment, and caution" after the Kubby mistrial, said LP State Chair Mark Hinkle.
"We extend congratulations to Michele for her acquittal, but today's outcome is a mixed blessing," he said. "We share outrage with thousands of others over Steve's conviction on two senseless charges.
"We are very pleased and encouraged that in a county as politically conservative as Placer -- where Proposition 215 was rejected by 52% of voters -- 11 jurors would vote to follow the law approved by all Californians four years ago. The real tragedy is that countless other Americans continue suffering due to the government's failed drug policy."
Hinkle also predicted that the Kubbys would be found innocent if the case went back to trial.
"As far as we're concerned, Steve and Michele Kubby's use of medical marijuana has been vindicated," he said. "There is no doubt in our minds that Steve and Michele were using medical marijuana lawfully.
"There is no doubt that Steve was targeted by law enforcement authorities following his high-profile gubernatorial campaign -- in which he openly testified that taking marijuana was the only thing keeping a rare form of cancer from killing him. And there is no doubt that he will eventually be completely exonerated."
Prosecutors have not announced whether they will retry the case.
"Considering [the] 11-1 outcome, they would be foolish to retry the case," said Hinkle.
Steve Kubby is scheduled for sentencing on February 2 for the psilocyn and peyote charges. He faces a maximum of three years, eight months in prison, or a minimum of probation.
The Kubbys' long legal odyssey started on January 19, 1998, when police raided their Olympic Valley home and arrested them.
Both pleaded not guilty to all charges, arguing that they used marijuana in accordance with the law -- Steve Kubby to treat adrenal cancer under doctor's orders and Michele Kubby to alleviate irritable bowel syndrome.
Attorney J. Tony Serra suggested during the trial that the Kubbys were targeted for prosecution because of their political activity.
Steve Kubby is "a lightning rod for medicinal marijuana activism," he said. "He was, and is, a symbol of medical marijuana -- and a symbol of false prosecution."
After 4 million arrests, Clinton is a 'shameless hypocrite' on legalizing pot
WASHINGTON, DC -- President Clinton is a "shameless hypocrite" for advocating the decriminalization of marijuana in a new Rolling Stone magazine interview -- after he stood by silently as 4 million Americans were arrested on marijuana charges during his administration, the Libertarian Party said today.
"Shame on Bill Clinton for remaining silent for so long," said Steve Dasbach, the party's national director. "Where was this shameless hypocrite for the last eight years, as millions of Americans were arrested -- and tens of thousands were jailed -- for using a drug that Clinton himself used, and now admits should be decriminalized?"
In the December 28 issue of Rolling Stone, Clinton strongly criticized the War on Drugs in general and marijuana laws in particular.
In the interview, conducted days before the November election, the president asserted that "we really need a re-examination of our entire policy on imprisonment" of drug users, and said marijuana use "should be decriminalized."
The remarks are "frankly, shocking," said Dasbach, because Clinton has waged a more vicious War on Marijuana than any other president in U.S. history.
* Since Clinton assumed office, 4,175,357 Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges, according to FBI figures -- 88% of them for simple possession.
* The number of people arrested for marijuana increased during seven of the eight years that Clinton has been president, climaxing in a record 704,812 arrests in 1999.
* Approximately 36,560 people are in jail today after being convicted solely of marijuana charges, according to the Washington, DC- based Marijuana Policy Project.
* Clinton has "even taken the lead in prosecuting AIDS and cancer victims who use medical marijuana, and the doctors who prescribe it," said Dasbach. After California voters passed a statewide medical marijuana initiative in 1996, Clinton ordered his drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, to threaten California doctors with federal prosecution and loss of their licenses if they recommended the drug to their patients.
Given these facts, said Dasbach, it's odd that Clinton chose to speak out against marijuana laws just a few weeks before he left office.
"Why did Clinton remain uncharacteristically silent for eight years as more than 4 million Americans were arrested, handcuffed, and hauled down to the police station?" asked Dasbach.
"And why did he continue his silence as thousands of Americans every day watched their lives, families, and careers destroyed by a crime that Clinton now admits shouldn't be a crime at all? Perhaps because Bill Clinton always cared far more about his own political viability than he ever did about doing what's right -- which makes him a coward with a capital C."
However, it's not too late for Clinton to redeem himself, said Dasbach.
"Instead of simply suggesting a re-examination of drug laws, Clinton should spend his remaining days as president trying to repair the damage he's done -- starting with a public apology and a presidential pardon for every American who has been victimized by marijuana laws," he said. "If Clinton really means what he said, it's his last chance to put justice above politics."