YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Home is where the high is

February 02, 2003|Eric Bailey

To see the Sechelt, B.C., home of expatriate California activist Steve Kubby is to understand the depth of the man's passion about medical marijuana.

Up on the top floor, the cumulus of medicinal cannabis smoke is often so thick that it has been declared off limits to 6-year-old Brooke and her sister, Crystal, 3. This level is also nerve center for Team Kubby. A trio of computers generates mass e-mail chatter to cannabis constituents. The Kubby Web page bristles with written commentary, news articles and family photos. A copy of the U.S. Bill of Rights resides beside an unabashed pitch for donations--all major credit cards accepted. The open hand works. A Libertarian in San Francisco gave the Kubbys $20,000 for their legal defense.

Family life plays out one floor down. Kubby, a big hugger around wife and kids, isn't above hitting the carpet on all fours to goof off with Crystal. An exception to suburban status quo is the breakfast nook, set up like a network news studio: anchor desk, TV camera on a tripod, klieg lights, blue-cloth backdrop.

From this hutch, the Kubbys tape a half-hour news program several times a week for Pot-TV, an Internet streaming video site run out of Vancouver's B.C. Marijuana Party headquarters. Each episode of Pot-TV News--positioned beside programs such as "Hollyweed" and "Marijuana Man Grow Show"--starts with reggae's cannabis anthem "Smoke Two Joints," then shifts incongruously to the smiling, clean-scrubbed Kubbys. He favors a corporate blazer and tie of red, white and blue. Michele, a blond and stylish woman raised in coastal Orange County, used to work at a San Francisco securities firm before she married Steve in 1995, and her life changed forever. Now, hair coiffed, makeup expertly applied, she handles the news updates--often a litany of the latest busts back in the States.

Her husband dishes up scalding commentary. Consider the day a Canadian research team questioned pot's efficacy for the terminally ill. Kubby treats such doubt like a fastball under his chin. "Shame on these doctors for making these fraudulent, ignorant and biased statements," Kubby growls, concluding that the researchers are "quacks."

Pot-TV news not only qualifies the Kubbys for Canadian work visas, it earns them $25,000 a year. But what puts marijuana into Kubby's cigarettes is on the bottom floor, in the two-car-garage-turned-greenhouse. The couple's old Subaru sits on the driveway to make room for an indoor plantation of medicinal pot. Nursery lights blaze overhead. A blower pumps carbon dioxide to the fragrant crop. "They're all thoroughbreds," Kubby says of his plants, pointing out the different varietals: Island Sweet Skunk, a narrow leaf of deep green; Williams Wonder, broad and fat. Years of experimentation have taught Kubby what works best to ease his symptoms and pain while avoiding psychoactive jags and the munchies. His personal favorite, Celestial Temple Sativa, is an Ecuadorean native Kubby regards as "the most extraordinary pot I've ever experienced. You can smoke all day and be cerebral."

Kubby calls this garage full of high-grade weed his "victory garden." In September, despite the deportation wrangling, he won a medical marijuana exemption from Health Canada, a government agency that has issued only a few hundred of the permits across the country. Kubby's laminated medpot card is his hall pass to travel anywhere in Canada with 360 grams, enough dried cannabis to nearly stuff a one-pound coffee can. He can also grow 59 plants and store nearly six pounds in his home.

It is truly a North American paradox: This man U.S. law officers called a drug trafficker is considered by Canadian health officials simply to be a very sick fellow.

-- E.B.

Los Angeles Times Articles