California medical marijuana activist and patient Steve Tuck, who fled the United States to avoid prosecution as a marijuana trafficker, was handed over by Canadian immigration officials to US authorities last Friday. Canadian officials dragged Tuck, who suffers from injuries incurred as a member of the US armed forces, from his hospital bed in Vancouver and drove him to the border, catheter still attached, where US officials took custody of him.
Tuck had been hospitalized for prostate problems and was on a long-term morphine prescription for pain from his old injuries. He also uses medical marijuana to relieve the nausea from his pain medications. But the Associated Press reported he has been untreated in the US, first at the Whatcom, Washington, county jail and now at the King County Jail in Seattle, where he is being held pending transfer to Humboldt County, California.
Tuck faces charges in Humboldt County over marijuana grow busts in 2000 and 2001. He also faces federal charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Tuck and his partners said they were doing medical marijuana grows for a large number of patients, but Humboldt County prosecutors charged him as a trafficker anyway. He fled to Canada nearly five years ago, but his efforts to stay there to avoid persecution in the US have been rejected by Canadian immigration officials. Other American marijuana refugees, including Steve and Michelle Kubby and Rene Bojee face similar fates.
At a Wednesday hearing in federal court in Seattle, Tuck appeared still fitted with the catheter he was wearing when deported. "This is totally inhumane. He's been tortured for days for no reason," said his defense attorney, Douglass Hiatt, referring to Tuck's inability to get his medications. US Magistrate Judge James Donohue ordered Tuck released to go to a hospital for treatment, but King County Jail officials refused, saying they had received a hold from Humboldt County.
Marijuana activist and journalist Richard Cowan was present at the hospital in Vancouver when Tuck was taken. "I would not believe it unless I had seen it," Cowan told the AP. "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."