Fled to Canada in 2002 after facing marijuana charges
Medicinal marijuana advocates across the U.S/Canada border were left feeling sick after the Canada Border Services Agency took Steve Tuck from his gurney in St. Paul's Hospital and handed him to U.S. authorities this weekend.
Tuck, an American citizen who fled to Canada after facing state charges in California in 2002 for using pot, was in hospital Friday afternoon when his time in Canada ran out.
Tuck was handed over to authorities at Bellingham's Whatcom County jail, and later transferred to the King County jail in Seattle, where he was refused medical attention, said Seattle criminal defense attorney Douglas Hiatt.
"This is just an outrage having this guy in jail. The idea we're now ripping people out of the hospital to toss them in jail is crazy," said Hiatt, adding Tuck was taking heavy doses of morphine to help with chronic pain from several back surgeries and needed marijuana to combat nausea.
According to public records, Tuck fought his deportation by claiming he would be jailed and denied marijuana in the U.S., putting his life at risk.
Tuck's refugee status claim was denied Feb. 17, 2004, when the Immigration and Refugee Board decided Tuck would not face personal risk or cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if returned to the U.S.
The CBSA, which carried out Tuck's deportation, told 24 hours the same rules apply to everyone: when you're time is up, is doesn't matter where you are, you're leaving Canada.
"One of the roles we play is to ensure that individuals who are not eligible to remain in Canada are removed as soon as possible. It's practical and it's a responsibility that we have," said Paula Shore of CBSA.
The case is now in the hands of the U.S. Attorney's Office, which is deciding whether to charge Tuck with a federal crime.
The U.S. Attorney's Office did not respond by 24 hours' presstime.