Prosecutor's Welcome Decision

Discussion in 'Marijuana News' started by Superjoint, Mar 5, 2001.

  1. By Patrick McCartney, Journal City Editor
    Source: Auburn Journal

    You've probably heard already. Placer County District Attorney Brad Fenocchio threw in the towel against Steve Kubby Friday, ending the county's two-year drugs-for-sale prosecution of the former Libertarian candidate for governor and his wife, Michele.
    Better yet, Fenocchio also made the sensible decision to drop charges against former Rocklin dentist Michael Baldwin and his wife, Georgia. The Baldwins faced a retrial this month on cultivation-for-sale charges, after a jury deadlocked last year on the question of their innocence.

    Facing a recall petition by critics of the county's arrest-first policy toward medical marijuana, Fenocchio offered an olive branch in the motion to dismiss, promising "to work with law enforcement, citizens and health-care providers … to establish guidelines" for the number of allowable plants.

    If that effort leads to a policy all sides can abide by, then Placer County will have taken a giant step toward implementing the will of voters who approved Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act, in 1996.

    But before any such happy ending is possible, Placer prosecutors and law enforcement will go through a rocky year or more, as those who were prosecuted unfairly and others who were targets of ill-advised raids by a sheriff's anti-pot team seek retribution in court.

    At this moment, seven lawsuits are working their way through the court system, with additional suits by Kubby and Baldwin all but a certainty.

    As reported by Journal Staff Writer Gus Thomson on today's front page, Judge John L. Cosgrove reduced the two Steve Kubby's felony convictions – for a mushroom stem and peyote buttons – to misdemeanors.

    In overruling the objections of stalwart Deputy District Attorney Christopher Cattran, Cosgrove called Steve Kubby's felony conviction for possession of the peyote buttons "a little strange," since cultivation of the hallucinogenic cactus – arguably the more serious offense – is now a misdemeanor. (Cattran's response: "Yeah, it does seem peculiar, but there are lots of laws in these [statute] books that seem peculiar.")

    Cosgrove cited Kubby's hitherto spotless criminal record and lack of aggravating circumstances to reduce the psilocybin mushroom charge to a misdemeanor as well, calling it a "common-sense interpretation" of the "wobbler" law against the psychedelic mushroom that allows the charge to be either a felony or a less-serious misdemeanor.

    With his ruling, Cosgrove restored Steve Kubby's political career. And Kubby, who used marijuana to control blood-pressure symptoms from a rare adrenal cancer, has ideas about running for office again.

    Kubby was instrumental in placing Prop. 215 on the ballot, then became an outspoken defender of the medical-marijuana initiative once it came under attack by local police and prosecutors. He finished fourth in California's 1998 race for governor, during which an anonymous letter was sent to Lake Tahoe police claiming that Kubby was financing his political campaign by selling marijuana.

    Too bad the drug task force didn't look for evidence of illegal sales first before turning the lives of the Kubbys upside down in search of clues of possible wrongdoing. The mere confirmation that Kubby was growing marijuana should not have justified police entering their home on a fishing expedition.

    That is a hard lesson for police and prosecutors to learn.

    Take, for example, the astonishing dragnet for possible marijuana growers conducted by the Placer County Sheriff's Office anti-marijuana team.

    As reported by Wally Reemelin in the League of Placer County Taxpayers' bulletin, the team jotted down hundreds of license plates of customers of a Sacramento County nursery supply company, Green Fire.

    The deputies then obtained the customer addresses through DMV checks, acquired their utility bills from PG&E, SMUD and Roseville Electric, then sought search warrants for the residences of those customers with higher-than-expected electricity consumption.

    The scores of raids resulted in dozens of arrests and, now, seven lawsuits.

    I've heard that supervisors ordered a halt to the raids during a closed-door meeting last year, although no county official has made that news public. But one thing is certain: the raids did come to a stop.

    Yet, the supervisors' direction may have come too late to spare the county millions of dollars in potential settlements. Or to spare Fenocchio the anxiety of a possible recall election. (A signature drive is currently under way.)

    But it is a bitter pill for many in law enforcement to swallow. After prosecutors attempted to deny him access to marijuana while serving his probation, Steve Kubby called the request "extreme bad faith."

    "If I can't qualify for medical marijuana, who the hell can?" Kubby asked.

    That's a question best answered, not by law enforcement and prosecutors, but by physicians, scientists and the California Legislature.

    Pat McCartney is the Journal's City Editor.

    He can be reached at 885-6585, ext. 143, or by e-mail at:

    Complete Title: Prosecutor's Welcome Decision First Step in Long Journey

    Source: Auburn Journal (CA)
    Author: Patrick McCartney, Journal City Editor
    Published: March 4, 2001
    Copyright: 2001 Auburn Journal
    Address: 1030 High St., Auburn, CA 95603

    The Kubby Files

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