Even Mason Tvert, the fiery advocate behind the state’s pot-legalization measure, buried his head in his hand and cringed at the pro-marijuana rhetoric of Steve Kubby.
“They really are crazy,” said Kubby, a candidate running for the Libertarian Party’s 2008 presidential nomination, about those who still want to keep pot illegal. “There’s nothing we can do but hope they die.”
Some gasped, most giggled, at the flailing-arms candidate as he screamed about how messed up – he used a punchier word for “messed” – the country currently is to a crowd of about 30 students and community members in the Clark Building on Thursday night.
It’s easy to believe Kubby is on the fringes, but it appears he’s a viable candidate for his party’s nomination.
He ran for the vice presidential Libertarian Party nomination in 2000, and was defeated 418 to 338. Two years prior, he was the party’s candidate for governor of California.
His appearance Thursday night touched on several Libertarian principles and stances, but the focus, days before Coloradans decide whether to blaze the national trail and legalize possession of small amounts of pot, was on the benefits of the drug and the harm of prohibition.
“Don’t tell us you’re a free country if a plant can put you in jail,” he said.
Tvert, the campaign director of the gritty legalization group SAFER (Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation), has maintained that pot has its ills, but that they aren’t nearly as harmful as those of alcohol.
Kubby, who wasn’t affiliated with SAFER, on the other hand, portrayed cannabis as a wonder drug that can be the cure for several of the human body’s ills – from stress and nausea to high blood pressure and spasmodic problems.
“I want you to leave this room and understand that cannabis is not a medicine, but the medicine,” he told the crowd gathered in Clark C142, which consisted of a mix of fresh-faced students clad in neon “Yes on 44” shirts and scruffy old men.
Kubby is a cancer patient who has smoked plenty of pot – he said sometimes up to an ounce a day, whether he was joking was unclear – since he was diagnosed in the late ’60s.
“One of the things he pointed out was that there may be some benefits to marijuana,” said Seth Anthony, chair of the CSU Libertarian Party. “It’s research that should be pursued.”
Kubby even had some health tips for pot smokers. He said he never smokes from bongs, pipes or vaporizers. Rather, he sticks solely to well-rolled joints, which are healthier, he claims. And he never smokes the “roach,” or the last half-inch of the joint.
“Thirty years, heavy smoking, joints only, and I don’t show any evidence of lung damage,” he said.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse would disagree. The federal drug research group states that marijuana users often develop the same sorts of breathing problems that smokers have.
Nicholas Hoogendyk, a junior pre-med student, said he supports Amendment 44, the Colorado legalization measure, and agrees with the claim that pot isn’t as harmful as alcohol, but didn’t care for Kubby’s crude presentation.
“I don’t appreciate it when a politician comes in and swears,” he said.
The CSU student added that Kubby’s attacks on those he disagreed with wouldn’t convince anyone who didn’t already share his viewpoint.
But for fleeting moments on Tuesday night, Kubby seemed to be in his own zone, a man possessed; no one or no thing could stop him.
Whether he was guilty of intolerant political ideology or entertaining showmanship was for each audience member to decide.
It’s time to “get rid of those ugly Republicans and get their fat carcasses out of the way,” he said, causing more giggles. “I don’t think it’s about right or left.I think it’s about freedom.”
Kubby directly addressed students: “You have this opportunity in Colorado to change the world you live in.”
News managing editor Vimal Patel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.