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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Steve Kubby’s Canadian adventure

Steve Kubby is making news this weekend as a candidate for leader of the Libertarian Party of the United States, a contest that was settled only hours ago at the Party’s annual convention in Denver. Former Republican congressman Bob Barr won a very close sixth ballot decision, edging out author and libertarian activist Mary Ruwart.

Kubby was forced out of the race after coming last on the second ballot -- and, in his consolation speech, he mentioned his “return from Canada”:

"It has been such an honour and such a pleasure to return from Canada to the warm embrace of fellow libertarians...."

So what was Kubby doing in Canada? Well, he was on the run from Johnny Law.

I met Kubby in Vancouver in 2003. He was a so-called drug war refugee from the US seeking a safe haven in Canada with the support of Cannabis Culture magazine publisher and marijuana legalization activist Marc Emery.

I was an executive with a polling company at the time and wanted to measure Canadian attitudes toward drug war refugees like Kubby, an issue the Western Standard has covered in the Renee Boje case in 2005 and the Marc Emery case in 2007.

Here’s the polling question:

Steve Kubby is an American businessman who uses medical marijuana to treat a rare and deadly form of adrenal cancer. He came to Canada three years ago to avoid marijuana related charges in the United States. He is now one of hundreds of people in Canada for whom it is legal to grow and use marijuana for medical reasons - a right he would not have if he was forced to return to the US. The Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board must now decide whether or not to send Steve Kubby back to the United States to face marijuana related charges. Should the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board send Steve Kubby back to the United States to face marijuana related charges or should they allow him to continue to stay in Canada where he has legal access to medical marijuana?

It’s a bit of a loaded question, but here are the results, never before released, compiled by pollster Dr. Faron Ellis:

28.7 per cent responded that we should “send him back” to the US to face charges. 58.9 per cent responded that we should “let him stay” in Canada, and 12.4 per cent were undecided.

You can get the complete results here:

Download jmck_polling_steve_kubby_poll_august_2003.pdf .

Almost 60 per cent of Canadians opposed the extradition of Steve Kubby. So what happened?

After numerous appeals, Kubby was forced to leave Canada in January 2006 and, after arriving in the US, was incarcerated in San Mateo County Jail in Redwood City, California. According to Wikipedia, Kubby was allowed access to a drug called Marinol, a THC synthetic which, while lacking the cannabinoids found in marijuana, did keep him healthy until his release on March 6, 2006.

And that’s the story of Steve Kubby’s Canadian adventure.


Oh, and here's another attempt at a Canadian angle on this convention coverage. Before the convention began, I asked the Chairman of the Party what he thought of Marc Emery's possible extradition, to which he replied:

Mr. Johnston:  The Libertarian Party of the United States does not have a formally adopted position on this case, but I assure you that nearly all--and probably all--Libertarians would be adamantly opposed to Mr. Emery's extradition to the United States. 

William Redpath
Libertarian Party of the United States

No surprise here.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on May 25, 2008 in International Politics | Permalink


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At least he is able to grow and use marijuana, I who live in Iowa suffer from Diabetic Neuropathic Gastro Paresis (paralyzed stomach muscles) resulting in chronic nausea and vomiting. There is no safe drug to control chronic nausea. Regalen/Metroclopramide is most often prescribed and continued use causes irreversible Parkinson like shakes and tremors, and this is Legal??? Get with Congress legalize Medical Marijuana at the very least and get government the hell out of medicine. Politicians are liars and thieves you can't trust a one of them, except Ron Paul. Sen Tom Harkin (D-IA) says marijuana is as addictive as heroin, cocaine and meth. What an ignorant, prejudiced politician. He must be killed...in the next election for Senate.

Posted by: Jeff | 2008-05-25 9:04:38 PM

This site has turned into a friggin' pothead site. Libertarians, Paulnuts,whatever....I'm out of here.

Posted by: Markalta | 2008-05-25 9:45:38 PM

So he did his time, then returned to Canada? Was that for access to medical marijuana?

Sounds like he's still American at heart.

We've seen a new generation of politicians who admit to experimenting with pot. Pretty soon the last of the old boys will be gone, and there'll be no one but a few Mormans who refuse to admit trying a puff. Then the talks will begin in earnest.

Posted by: dp | 2008-05-25 10:00:39 PM

dp, he was an American fleeing incarceration on marijuana related charges. He was forced to return to the US to face prosecution in 2006. He stayed in the US once he got out of jail.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-25 10:04:42 PM

I am a physician who has seen first hand that marijuana can be an effective medication (after all, it used to be in the US Pharamacopeia, prior to getting pushed off of it by the US congress, responding to the demands of unemployed federal law enforcement officers and agencies, after prohibition, for a new substance to policy).

I can only laugh condescendingly at users like "Jeff" who fart loudly in the face of serious libertarians concerned about real issues like the freedom of sick individuals to use the effective medication of their choice freely.

Jeff, please do, get the hell out of here (and try not to come back, either).

Posted by: Tom | 2008-05-28 10:41:29 PM

Tom -- Thanks for your comments, but I think you should be directing your final remarks at Markalta, and not Jeff.

I personally hope Markalta comes back to join the diverse discussions on the Shotgun, even if we disagree about marijuana legalization.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-05-28 10:59:46 PM

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