SEATTLE – 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 (search) said.
Steven W. Tuck (search), 38, was still fitted with the urinary catheter 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 P. Donohue (search) ordered Tuck temporarily released so he could be taken to a hospital for treatment.
However, by the time Donohoe issued his order, King County (search) Jail officials had received a detainment request from Humboldt County (search), Calif., so Tuck was not released Wednesday, Hiatt said.
"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, 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 (search)., his marijuana operation was raided for the second time. He fled to British Columbia to avoid prosecution but asylum was denied.
Last Friday, he checked himself into a Vancouver hospital for prostate problems, and it was there that he was arrested.
Richard Cowan, a friend who runs the Web site marijuananews.com (search), said in a telephone interview from Canada that he was with Tuck at the hospital when Canadian 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."
He was turned over to Whatcom County (search) 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 (search), Hiatt said. Tuck appeared emaciated in court, and Hiatt said he had been sick from morphine withdrawal.
A message left with representatives of the King County Jail was not immediately returned Wednesday. A spokesman with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (search) in Vancouver said he could not immediately comment on the case.
Tuck is charged federally with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Donohue agreed to release him on the condition that he face the charge in the Northern District of California upon his release from the hospital.
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.