Thursday, October 27, 2005

Taken from Vancouver Hospital to face U.S. Marijuana Charge

by "Captain"

PEJ News

Cotober 17, 2005

"Totally out of control" is how one writer describes US and Canadian law enforcement, after an outrageous incident in which the RCMP enabled the "kidnapping" of a Vancouver hospital patient, who was turned over to US officials at the border to face marijuana charges.

According to an AP story that appeared late last week, a US army veteran, Steven W. Tuck, who fled to Canada to avoid prosecution for growing marijuana to treat his chronic pain, was taken from a hospital, driven to the border with a catheter still attached to his body, and turned over to U.S. officials.

According to his lawyer, he then went five days with no medical treatment and only ibuprofen for the pain. Tuck, 38, was still fitted with the urinary catheter when he shuffled into federal court last Wednesday for a detention hearing.

"This is totally inhumane. He's been tortured for days for no reason," the lawyer stated.
U.S. Magistrate Judge James P. Donohue issued a temporary release order so that Tuck could be taken to a hospital for treatment. But by the time the judge issued his order, King County jail officials had received a detainment request from Humboldt County, California, so Tuck was not released.

"I can't believe we've run into another snag here," the lawyer said.

Tuck suffered debilitating injuries in the 1980s when his parachute failed to open during a jump. Those injuries were exacerbated by a car crash in 1990, said the lawyer, and Tuck was using marijuana for chronic pain.

In 2001, while living in McKinleyville, California, his marijuana operation was raided for the second time. He fled to British Columbia to avoid prosecution but asylum was denied. Tuck checked into a Vancouver hospital for prostate problems and was arrested there by Canadian authorities shortly thereafter.

Richard Cowan, a friend, said he was with Tuck at the hospital when authorities arrested him. "I would not believe it unless I had seen it," Cowan said. "They sent people in to arrest him while he was on a gurney. They took him out of the hospital in handcuffs, put him in an SUV, and drove him to the border."

Tuck was turned over to Whatcom County Jail officials, who called federal marshals. The marshals took him to the King County Jail in Seattle.

Although Tuck has taken morphine -- as prescribed by doctors -- for about 16 years to help with his pain, he was given no painkiller or treatment at the jail other than ibuprofen, the lawyer stated. Tuck appeared emaciated in court, and the lawyer explained he had been sick from morphine withdrawal.

King County Jail officials did not return a call from AP seeking comment, and the RCMP had no comment.

Tuck is charged federally with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Judge Donohue agreed to release him on the condition that he face the charge in California upon his release from the hospital.

The conservative (and becoming more so) US Supreme Court ruled last June that people who smoke marijuana to ease pain, even on on the advice of their physicians, can still be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws, even in states like California that have laws permitting medical marijuana use.

But where does it say in Canadian law that a hospital patient may be kidnapped by our law enforcement authorities and, without an extradition hearing, returned to the US?

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