Skip to comments.The Crimes of Pot Justice - When marijuana arrests might be death sentences
Posted on 02/09/2006 10:22:20 PM PST by neverdem
Reason Foundation free minds and free markets
February 6, 2006
Last week a man was shivering and vomiting in a cold cell in Auburn, California, at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas in Placer County, his urine bloody, the medicine he needs denied him.
His name is Steve Kubby. He was the Libertarian Party's 1998 gubernatorial candidate, and a major player in the crafting and passing of California's Proposition 215, the 1996 initiative that legalized medical marijuana in the state.
Kubby did not enjoy the protection of the law he helped pass. Prompted by an anonymous tip, police in California's Placer County began surveilling Kubby's home near Lake Tahoe in 1998, including digging through his garbage. Eventually on January 19, 1999, 12 armed officers raided his home and arrested him and his wife, claiming to have found 265 pot plants. (More than half, Kubby insists, were unsexed seedlings, and California law does not have a specific numerical limit on personal use marijuana growth for medical marijuana patients.) The warrant was obtained partially on the basis of claims that a journalist who had been seen visiting the Kubbys' home was in fact a known Jamaican drug smuggler, according to a DEA report later found not to exist; Kubby is certain his prominence in the pro-marijuana movement made him a target.
Kubby is struggling with a rare and usually fatal form of adrenal cancer, pheochromocytoma, which he has suffered from since the late 1960s. A doctor who helped treat him for the condition in the 1970s, Vincent DeQuattro of the University of Southern California, was amazed, upon seeing Kubby's name in California's voter guide during his gubernatorial race, to discover that his old patient was still alive. As High Times reported:
"In some amazing fashion," DeQuattro 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."
Kubby insists the only treatment he's taken in a long while for the cancer—whose effects include sudden rushes of adrenalin and noradrenaline, resulting in high blood pressure spikes, headaches, and panic attacks—is marijuana; that it, and only it, had kept him alive this long; and that without it, as he now is in Placer County lockdown, he'll likely die.
Is he right? Even with the grim reports of his vomiting, chills, and bloody urine this past week in jail, it's hard to be sure. He's merely one anecdote, and concerted research into such questions of marijuana's medical efficacy are hamstrung by restrictive federal regulations and supply constraints. But right now his Placer County jailers are conducting a very dangerous experiment to test Kubby's theory. A Canadian doctor, Dr. Joseph M. Connors, chair of the Lymphoma Tumor Group at the British Columbia Cancer Agency, has testified that without his pot, Kubby is at high risk of suffering potentially fatal heart attacks, seizures, or strokes from his cancer's effects.
Kubby was acquitted of the pot charges arising from the raid, but convicted in 2001 for some peyote buttons and a psychedelic mushroom the cops also found. Before serving his term, he and his family left for Canada, where they've spent the past five years. He, his wife Michele, and his two daughters were finally deported back to the U.S. last week. They were met at the San Francisco airport by a gang of officers, Kubby was handcuffed and taken away, avoiding the press and well-wishers awaiting him in the airport, and ended up in Placer County jail.
Kubby has become something of a cause célèbre because of his intimate connections with the libertarian and medical marijuana communities. But he's not the only one suffering in prison because of lack of marijuana. In a similar situation—ill, in prison, denied marijuana that helps them cope or survive their illness—are Joe Fortt (in jail in Fresno, his T-cell count plummeting, he'd been using pot to cope with AIDS while free), Robert Schmidt (currently in Leavenworth, a prison under full "lockdown," denied both medicine and visitors), and many others. Prisons in California may, at their discretion, but are not required under the law, provide inmates with their medical marijuana-and generally don't.
As of this writing, Kubby is being permitted the use of marinol, a pharmaceutical synthetic THC, though not the whole marijuana plant. His blood pressure has stabilized and the blood has left his urine. (When he refused to take standard blood pressure medicine, inappropriate for the spiked variety of high blood pressure his adrenal problems caused, they made him sign a waiver absolving his jailers of all responsibility for what might happen to him.) His pre-trial hearing on a charge of failure to appear for probation is scheduled for February 15.
The Kubby case presents many unresolved controversies; is it really the marijuana that has kept his adrenal cancer from killing him? Did his status as a felony fugitive arise from judicial misconduct? (His conviction was originally for a misdemeanor, raised to a felony level by a judge during his appeals process, which is what made his lack of appearance at a hearing because he was in Canada a crime. Kubby has filed a complaint with California's Commission on Judicial Performance, alleging the judge, who had been earlier recused from his case, was acting illegally.)
Whatever the final resolution of those questions, in Auburn, California, a man is in jail ultimately for growing a plant he believes helps him, suffering from cancer, his vitals erratic, deprived of medication that makes his life bearable. He has harmed no one, and is being harmed for it.
Brian Doherty is a senior editor of Reason and author of This Is Burning Man, (Little, Brown), whose paperback edition will be released by BenBella Books in summer 2005.
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Copyright © 2005
Donno -- It was probably the Peyote...
Either way, it was the culture of drugs that put him in prison. I wonder what other banned drugs they found in his house..
Not smoking dope isn't making this guy vomit blood or whatever claim they are making.
As far as the PC12 cells. PC12 is a common cell line used in labs. The same studies are and can be done in other cells and affect on microtubules is not specific to PC12.
I guess peyote or mushrooms will cure his "cancer" too.
It's interesting how the 60's drug sub-culture/new left tries to pass itself off over the years. Now they're going for the Reasoned libertarian scam.
You don't think they know how to diagnose a pheochromocytoma? He should have died quite a while ago.
"Kubby was acquitted of the pot charges arising from the raid, but convicted in 2001 for some peyote buttons and a psychedelic mushroom the cops also found."
So what is the peyote and mushrooms for? Legal dementia?
A logical and rational layperson could posit that a lifetime of multi-drug use is the root cause of his many physical ailmnents.
A pot-promoting doctor claimed that Kubby would die within four days of not smoking marijuana.
Kubby was also caught with hypodermic syringes, hundreds of pot plants and evidence of payments from "clinics" that were reselling pot for hundreds of dollars an ounce.
And how did he survive this fatal diagnosis, just spontaneous remission I suppose, or if there was Divine intervention, why would this evil doper receive it?
No, it was actually a hung jury and a mistrial.
Thanks for the link. A pathologist should have confirmed the diagnosis after surgery, and MRI or CT imaging studies should document recurrence of the malignancy.
You are taking at face value that there ever was a fatal diagnosis.
I don't believe it.
But let's say it's so. There are huge numbers of people who smoke pot who get cancer. They die like everyone else. If pot killed cancer Bob Marley'd be alive today.
Marijuana or components in marijuana very well may have legitimate medical use. But this whole medical marijuan thing is a big ruse. It has been cooked up by the same old counter culture that advocated rug use in the 60's and 70's. It's their latest tact to try and make drugs more readily available. And the main stream media plays along with them just like they do with most liberal endeavors.
At this point, I'm taking the pertinent statement in Mojave's link in comment 9 at face value, for which I thanked him/her, and which I italicized in comment 13 as the pertinent medical history. If there were no medical errors, he should have been dead decades ago with that diagnosis.
I fully understand the arguments in both sides of the WOD, which makes as much sense as alcohol prohibition. My interest is understanding medicine. The WOD has not been helpful in that respect to understanding the endocannabinoid system or optimum medical therapy.
I confess that I glanced over that remark. Cancer isn't a real diagnosis in that the term describes over 200 specific diagnoses which vary greatly in numerous medical criteria. It's obvious that your perspective is political. If a political story involves medicine, I can't ignore medical facts.
I do as well. That post came after my comment where I stated don't believe it. I fugured he was never diagnosed. It turns out he got conventional treatment.
The claim of dope-smoking curing his cancer is a big lie.
Do you actually take this Kubby seriously?
From the source that contended Kubby would be dead in four days without smoking pot.
Posted by CN Staff on December 08, 2003
By The Canadian Press
Kubby, who once made an unsuccessful run for governor of California, was granted permission by Health Canada to grow and smoke pot for medical reasons in August 2002.
Apparently Health Canada concurred with the diagnosis.
A cancer specialist told the hearing that Kubby, who suffers from adrenal cancer, would die within four days of not smoking marijuana.
The prognosis for any individual's diagnosis is notoriously unreliable. Mortality estimates are derived from averages of large numbers. You get statements like: "Five year survival are X percent." Pheochromocytomas are relatively rare. The active ingredients in marijuana have a long half-life because they are fat soluble.
Dr. Joseph Connors of the B.C. Cancer Agency said in April that Kubby has a large malignant tumour resulting from the cancer and that pot helps lower the excessive level of a chemical called catecholamine in his blood.
That implies that an MRI or CT had been performed at the time.
Kubby was diagnosed with cancer in 1968 and given only a few years to live. He had surgery to remove an aggressive tumour and also received chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
I don't know what was done at the time. The current standard of care would be for the surgeon to have removed the mass with a pathologist examining "frozen sections" of it almost simultaneously to assure the surgeon that all of the tumor was removed. It's not a guarantee, hence the subsequent chemotherapy and radiation, but the examination of the "frozen sections" and other histological methods by the pathologist should have confirmed the diagnosis.
Either he has the diagnosis, is a medical anomoly and should have died, or there is either fraud or gross incompetence because whether he has a recurrent pheochromocytoma is easily confirmed or not..
Another objective story from an objective source.
See comment 20.
The pertinent point: If you believe Connor's testimony, then you have to believe Kubby has died already
Doctors never make mistakes? Doctors make prognoses based from population studies. Not long ago the average life expectancy of someone with a new diagnosis of AIDS was ten years. Some died in a year or less. Some lasted up to twenty years. How helpful is that for any particular individual?
The first question is, "Does Kubby have a pheochromocytoma"? If he does, why wasn't he dead long ago? Was it due to smoking marijuana like a chimney? Urine and blood tests can confirm a tumor seen in imaging studies is a pheochromocytoma.
Yep. Medical marijuana, for instance. (Though that crowd seems to have a lot of homeopaths, osteopaths, acupuncturists, etc.)
Yep. Medical marijuana, for instance. (Though that crowd seems to have a lot of homeopaths, osteopaths, acupuncturists, etc.)
Medical marijuana has been used for millenia. Have you ever entered endocannabinoids or endocannabinoid receptors into PubMed? It's a long list. I would start with the review articles.
Homeopaths and acupuncturists have limited medical privileges. An osteopath, i.e. a D.O., is a licensed physician with the same privileges as any allopathic physician, i.e. a M.D. Ronald Blanck, D.O. was a recent Surgeon General of the Army.
But what does mentioning their credentials have to do with whether Kubby has this particular diagnoosis, or not?
And dogs eat grass when they feel sick.
This preposterous quackery flourishes lushIy in the back reaches of the Republic, and begins to conquer the less civilized folk of the big cities. As the old-time family doctor dies out in the country towns, with no competent successor willing to take over his dismal business, he is followed by some hearty blacksmith or ice-wagon driver, turned into a chiropractor in six months, often by correspondence. In Los Angeles the Damned, there are probably more chiropractors than actual physicians, and they are far more generally esteemed. Proceeding from the Ambassador Hotel to the heart of the town, along Wilshire boulevard, one passes scores of their gaudy signs; there are even chiropractic "hospitals." The Mormons who pour in from the prairies and deserts, most of them ailing, patronize these "hospitals" copiously, and give to the chiropractic pathology the same high respect that they accord to the theology of the town sorcerers. That pathology is grounded upon the doctrine that all human ills are caused by pressure of misplaced vertebrae upon the nerves which come out of the spinal cord -- in other words, that every disease is the result of a pinch. This, plainly enough, is buncombe. The chiropractic therapeutics rest upon the doctrine that the way to get rid of such pinches is to climb upon a table and submit to a heroic pummeling by a retired piano-mover. This, obviously, is buncombe doubly damned.
Both doctrines were launched upon the world by an old quack named Andrew T. Still, the father of osteopathy. For years the osteopaths merchanted them, and made money at the trade. But as they grew opulent they grew ambitious, i.e., they began to study anatomy and physiology. The result was a gradual abandonment of Papa Still's ideas. The high-toned osteopath of today is a sort of eclectic. He tries anything that promises to work, from tonsillectomy to the x-rays. With four years' training behind him, he probably knows more anatomy than the average graduate of the Johns Hopkins Medical School, or at all events, more osteology. Thus enlightened, he seldom has much to say about pinched nerves in the back. But as he abandoned the Still revelation it was seized by the chiropractors, led by another quack, one Palmer. This Palmer grabbed the pinched nerve nonsense and began teaching it to ambitious farm-hands and out-at-elbow Baptist preachers in a few easy lessons. Today the backwoods swarm with chiropractors, and in most States they have been able to exert enough pressure on the rural politicians to get themselves licensed. [It is not altogether a matter of pressure. Large numbers of rustic legislators are themselves believers in chiropractic. So are many members of Congress.] Any lout with strong hands and arms is perfectly equipped to become a chiropractor. No education beyond the elements is necessary. The takings are often high, and so the profession has attracted thousands of recruits -- retired baseball players, work-weary plumbers, truck-drivers, longshoremen, bogus dentists, dubious preachers, cashiered school superintendents. Now and then a quack of some other school -- say homeopathy -- plunges into it. Hundreds of promising students come from the intellectual ranks of hospital orderlies.
Such quackeries suck in the botched, and help them on to bliss eternal. When these botched fall into the hands of competent medical men they are very likely to be patched up and turned loose upon the world, to beget their kind. But massaged along the backbone to cure their lues [syphylis], they quickly pass into the last stages, and so their pathogenic heritage perishes with them. What is too often forgotten is that nature obviously intends the botched to die, and that every interference with that benign process is full of dangers. That the labors of quacks tend to propagate epidemics and so menace the lives of all of us, as is alleged by their medical opponents -- this I doubt. The fact is that most infectious diseases of any seriousness throw out such alarming symptoms and so quickly that no sane chiropractor is likely to monkey with them. Seeing his patient breaking out in pustules, or choking, or falling into a stupor, he takes to the woods at once, and leaves the business to the nearest medical man. His trade is mainly with ambulant patients; they must come to his studio for treatment. Most of them have lingering diseases; they tour all the neighborhood doctors before they reach him. His treatment, being nonsensical, is in accord with the divine plan. It is seldom, perhaps, that he actually kills a patient, but at all events he keeps any a worthy soul from getting well.
The osteopaths, I fear, are finding this new competition serious and unpleasant. As I have said, it was their Hippocrates, the late Dr. Still, who invented all of the thrusts, lunges, yanks, hooks and bounces that the lowly chiropractors now employ with such vast effect, and for years the osteopaths had a monopoly of them. But when they began to grow scientific and ambitious their course of training was lengthened until it took in all sorts of tricks and dodges borrowed from the regular doctors, or resurrection men, including the plucking of tonsils, adenoids and appendices, the use of the stomach-pump, and even some of the legerdemain of psychiatry. They now harry their students furiously, and turn them out ready for anything from growing hair on a bald head to frying a patient with the x-rays. All this new striving, of course, quickly brought its inevitable penalties. The osteopathic graduate, having sweated so long, was no longer willing to take a case of delirium tremens for $2, and in consequence he lost patients. Worse, very few aspirants could make the long grade. The essence of osteopathy itself could be grasped by any lively farmhand or night watchman in a few weeks, but the borrowed magic baffled him. Confronted by the phenomenon of gastrulation, or by the curious behavior of heart muscle, or by any of the current theories of immunity, he commonly took refuge, like his brother of the orthodox faculty, in a gulp of laboratory alcohol, or fled the premises altogether. Thus he was lost to osteopathic science, and the chiropractors took him in; nay, they welcomed him. He was their meat. Borrowing that primitive part of osteopathy which was comprehensible to the meanest understanding, they threw the rest overboard, at the same time denouncing it as a sorcery invented by the Medical Trust. Thus they gathered in the garage mechanics, ash-men and decayed welterweights, and the land began to fill with their graduates. Now there is a chiropractor at every crossroads.
I repeat that it eases and soothes me to see them so prosperous, for they counteract the evil work of the so-called science of public hygiene, which now seeks to make imbeciles immortal. If a man, being ill of a pus appendix, resorts to a shaved and fumigated longshoreman to have it disposed of, and submits willingly to a treatment involving balancing him on McBurney's spot and playing on his vertebra as on a concertina, then I am willing, for one, to believe that he is badly wanted in Heaven. And if that same man, having achieved lawfully a lovely babe, hires a blacksmith to cure its diphtheria by pulling its neck, then I do not resist the divine will that there shall be one less radio fan later on. In such matters, I am convinced, the laws of nature are far better guides than the fiats and machinations of medical busybodies. If the latter gentlemen had their way, death, save at the hands of hangmen, policemen and other such legalized assassins, would be abolished altogether, and the present differential in favor of the enlightened would disappear. I can't convince myself that would work any good to the world. On the contrary, it seems to me that the current coddling of the half-witted should be stopped before it goes too far if, indeed, it has not gone too far already. To that end nothing operates more cheaply and effectively than the prosperity of quacks. Every time a bottle of cancer oil goes through the mails Homo americanus is improved to that extent. And every time a chiropractor spits on his hands and proceeds to treat a gastric ulcer by stretching the backbone the same high end is achieved.
But what does mentioning their credentials, or now attacking chiropractors, have to do with whether Kubby has this particular diagnosis, or not? This is just ad hominem. Adios
Quacks in general.
I wish all the phoney conservatives who are all for the original Constitution but become states-be-damned commerce clause nazis as soon as drugs are mentioned would just learn to mind their own dam business.
I'm available to discuss medicine, not quackery.
Medical marijuna is quackery.
Was that supposed to be a rebuttal?
If you say so, it must be true. Could you describe your credentials for the rest of the peons?
Congress, DEA, AMA...
Show me where the Constitution grants any authority regarding medicine to Congress or the DEA. As for the AMA, the following statement is the most recent that I could find. If you can find one that is more recent, I would appreciate it if you would show me the link.
The AMA calls for further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy and the application of such results to the understanding and treatment of disease; (2) The AMA recommends that marijuana be retained in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act pending the outcome of such studies. (3) The AMA urges the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to implement administrative procedures to facilitate grant applications and the conduct of well-designed clinical research into the medical utility of marijuana. This effort should include: a) disseminating specific information for researchers on the development of safeguards for marijuana clinical research protocols and the development of a model informed consent on marijuana for institutional review board evaluation; b) sufficient funding to support such clinical research and access for qualified investigators to adequate supplies of marijuana for clinical research purposes; c) confirming that marijuana of various and consistent strengths and/or placebo will be supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to investigators registered with the Drug Enforcement Agency who are conducting bona fide clinical research studies that receive Food and Drug Administration approval, regardless of whether or not the NIH is the primary source of grant support. (4) The AMA believes that the NIH should use its resources and influence to support the development of a smoke-free inhaled delivery system for marijuana or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to reduce the health hazards associated with the combustion and inhalation of marijuana. (5) The AMA believes that effective patient care requires the free and unfettered exchange of information on treatment alternatives and that discussion of these alternatives between physicians and patients should not subject either party to criminal sanctions.
Medicine as commerce.
I'm 100% for legalizing marijuana and treating it similar to the way we treat alcohol. I think our current marijuana laws are stupid. Still, I have a hard time getting worked up over this man's fate. He was growing way more pot than he possibly could have consumed himself. He knew he was breaking the law. He got off easy with a 120 sentence. Why doesn't he quit his whining and "take his medicine."
"He got off easy with a 120 sentence."
Should say: "He got off easy with a 120 _day_ sentence."
Gerry Cooney used to hit guys in the liver and for about five seconds the hit fighter would go on about his business throwing punches, then this look of wonder, then pain, then unconsciousness would come over him.
Your response to neverdem reminded me of those five seconds when fighters didn't realize they'd been knocked out.
Conservatives don't ask the government to intervene and prevent other people's minor pleasures.
Our government's response to marijuana is akin to using a A-bomb to kill an ant. Overkill out the wazoo.
If you want pot legalized there is nothing stopping you from changing the law.
I am not in the interim going to be hoodwinked or put up with the lies of the doper crowd I am quite familiar with.
Still woozy, eh?
It was very responsive.
What was your response?
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