HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Petaluma Pot Grower Seeks Asylum In Canada
Pubdate: Sat, 06 Jul 2002
Source: Press Democrat, The (CA)
Copyright: 2002 The Press Democrat
Author: Jeremy Hay


A Petaluma man wanted by federal authorities on marijuana trafficking and 
money laundering charges has applied for political asylum in Canada.

Kenneth E. Hayes, who successfully fought Sonoma County pot charges last 
year, would face persecution for his political opinions should he be forced 
to return to America, his Canadian attorney said.

Hayes, 34, was arrested in April in Vancouver, British Columbia, for 
alleged immigration violations.

His attorney, Alex Stojicevic, said U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration 
agents were present when Hayes was arrested and asked to interview him, but 
Hayes refused.

Hayes fled to Canada in January, shortly before DEA agents seized 200 pot 
plants from his northwest Petaluma ranch.

The DEA operation included raids on a San Francisco marijuana buyers club 
that DEA agents said was a front for "large-scale" drug dealing. Hayes 
supporters say the club -- which continues to operate -- supplied pot under 
Califor-nia's medical marijuana law.

Stojicevic said Hayes sought asylum "because he's being persecuted for his 
actions and singled out."

Canadian immigration authorities will hold hearings in the next six to 12 
months to determine whether Hayes is a political refugee under the 
guidelines of the U.N. convention on refugees, Stojicevic said.

The charges against Hayes carry possible sentences of 20 years to life in 

Stojicevic represents two other California men who face U.S. charges and 
have applied for political refugee status.

Steve Kubby, the 1998 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, and former 
Humboldt County medical marijuana activist Steve Tuck also applied, 
Stojicevic said.

"They have a well-grounded fear of persecution," he said.

All three men claim to need marijuana for medical purposes. Hayes and Tuck 
said they also grow pot for use by other medical users.

Kubby, 56, was convicted of misdemeanor possession of peyote and acquitted 
of marijuana charges in Placer County two years ago. He faces a four-month 
sentence but says he would die without access to marijuana.

The state Justice Department is trying to upgrade his conviction to a felony.

Tuck, 36, faces six felony marijuana trafficking charges in Humboldt 
County, where authorities rejected a medical claim he had successfully used 
in a separate, earlier case.

Hayes and Kubby also face lesser charges of pot cultivation in Canada that 
are awaiting outcomes in British Columbia courts.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Beth