Medical pot user yanked from hospital bed

October 12, 2005

Gene Johnson, Associated Press

An Army veteran who fled to Canada to avoid prosecution for growing marijuana to treat his chronic pain was yanked from a hospital by Canadian authorities, driven to the border with a catheter still attached and turned over to U.S. officials, his lawyer says.

He then went five days with no medical treatment and only ibuprofen for the pain, attorney Douglas Hiatt said.

Steven Tuck, 38, was still fitted with the urinary cath-eter when he shuffled into federal court for a detention hearing Wednesday, Hiatt said.

"This is totally inhumane. He's been tortured for days for no reason," Hiatt said.

U.S. Magistrate Judge James Donohue ordered Tuck temporarily released so he could be taken to a hospital for treatment.

However, by the time Donohue issued his order, King County Jail officials had received a detainment request from Humboldt County, Calif., so Tuck was not released.

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

In 2001, while he was living in McKinleyville, Calif., his marijuana operation was raided for the second time. He fled to British Columbia to avoid prosecution but asylum was denied.

Last week, he checked himself into a Vancouver hospital for prostate problems, and it was there that he was arrested. He was handcuffed, put in an SUV and driven to the border.

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

Though 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, Hiatt said. Tuck appeared emaciated in court, and Hiatt said he had been sick from morphine withdrawal.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that people who smoke marijuana because their doctors recommend it to ease pain can be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws, even in states like California that have laws permitting medical marijuana use.

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