Weed Watch

War on drugs hits new low

The federal war on medi-pot patients hit a new low last month when Royal Canadian Mounted Police nabbed 38-year-old Steven W. Tuck from his Vancouver, B.C., hospital bed, whisked him to the border, and relinquished him to the custody of U.S. officials, who wanted him on charges related to a 2001 marijuana bust in California. Tuck, an Army vet, uses marijuana to help treat chronic pain associated with injuries he received in a parachuting accident back in the 1980s (reportedly his parachute failed to open during a jump). In 2001, after his marijuana-growing operation in California was busted, Tuck fled to Canada in an effort to avoid prosecution, reports The Washington Post. For four years, he had been navigating the Canadian system, seeking asylum, but was abruptly, and surprisingly, denied that safe harbor last month, says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML.

Police arrested Tuck on Oct. 7 after he checked himself into a Vancouver hospital seeking treatment for prostate problems. According to friend Richard Cowan, Tuck was on a gurney, fitted with a catheter, when RCMP nabbed him, cuffed him, and put him in an SUV bound for the border. "I would not believe it unless I had seen it," Cowan told the Post.

Tuck was turned over to authorities and thrown in jail, where he remained for five days with the catheter in place and with only ibuprofen for his pain – pain for which he'd been prescribed morphine and Oxycontin, among other narcotic drugs, says St. Pierre. He was finally taken to court on Oct. 12. "This is totally inhumane," Tuck's lawyer Douglas Hiatt told the Post. "He's been tortured for days for no reason." U.S. Magistrate James P. Donohue re-leased Tuck, at least temporarily, so that he could be taken to a hospital. Tuck's trip to the hospital was waylaid, however, by law enforcement officials who immediately picked him up on a detainer issued by Humboldt Co., Calif., officials in connection with state drug charges related to his growing medi-pot for him-self and others. (Although Tuck is a California state-registered medi-pot patient – meaning he's authorized under state law to possess and grow marijuana for medical purposes – he was also growing for others. At the time, California law enforcers were working under a patchwork of local regulations that defined who could grow for dispensary purposes and exactly how much each person could grow. Tuck had been busted in two different California jurisdictions for growing more than the local law allowed.)

After a flurry of phone calls, Tuck was taken to the hospital, and since then his attorneys have negotiated his release from jail – with the promise that he'll make his various California state court appearances. Sources tell "Weed Watch" that given Tuck's medical condition and the current state of California's medi-pot laws, his supporters are cautiously optimistic that the state charges against him will be dropped. If that happens, whether Tuck will face any prosecution will be left solely up to the feds, who want him on one count of unlawful flight to Canada to avoid the California charges. Whether the federal narcos will exercise their right to bully the sick remains to be seen.

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