02/10/13 Adam Assenberg

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Adam Assenberg of Wash state forces cops to return Med MJ and sues for $6 million, Aaron Sandusky faces 10 years behind bars, deadly pot in Seattle, Doug McVay with Drug War Facts, Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

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Transcript

Transcript

Cultural Baggage / February 10, 2013

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Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.

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DEAN BECKER: We certainly have a good show lined up for you today. Got a couple of segments dealing with marijuana, consulting and autism and that kind of thing but we got this story coming out of Washington State first up.

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DEAN BECKER: Long term listeners to the Drug Truth Network will recognize the voice of our next guest. He lives in Washington State. He had an encounter with the law a couple years back. They wanted to lock him up but things have kind of turned on its head have they not, Adam Assenberg?

ADAM ASSENBERG: Yes they have. I’m going after them now and they’re running for the hills.

DEAN BECKER: Tell us a little bit of background before we get to the current situation. When did this happen? Why and how did this happen?

ADAM ASSENBERG: It happened in May of 2011. It happened because my family had been thrown out of housing. I did a radio show for a while. After that I decided to set up a business and put the police into an entrapment type of situation. The local sheriff fell for it hook, line and sinker.

DEAN BECKER: They came to your house back in May of 2011 and what did they find and what did they do?

ADAM ASSENBERG: When I got pulled over they arrested me and asked me how many thousands of dollars were they going to find and how many pounds of pot. They found 90 dollars cash and 82 plants and 46 of those were in a cloning machine and didn’t even have roots yet.

DEAN BECKER: This was a severe economic and mental impact to you and your family wasn’t it?

ADAM ASSENBERG: I knew that sooner or later I would be busted and that’s why I did all kinds of research on state and federal laws so that I could turn those laws onto the police and use them against the police when I finally got busted. That way I could maybe put an end to this crazy war that we are facing.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s tell folks a little bit about why you use medical cannabis.

ADAM ASSENBERG: I used to be a security officer back in 1985 at a mining company in Corona, California. I got hit in the back with a baseball bat and thrown 15 feet off a bridge onto boulders and left for dead. I ended up breaking 9 vertebrae from my neck down to my tailbone. I was paralyzed for 6 and one-half months. It took 6 years to get off a walker.

DEAN BECKER: The recurring problems, the result of this injury plagued you for years. Tell them about the nature of that the follow up complications.

ADAM ASSENBERG: C7 at the base of my neck is blocking spinal fluid at the top and the bottom of the disc so bad that my doctor wants me to have surgery on it. It puts me into multiple grand mal seizures where I flop around like a fish out of water and blacked out from pain up to 70 times a day.

What it physically feels like is someone pouring gasoline on me and lighting me on fire.

DEAN BECKER: And this was your justification for being a medical marijuana patient, correct?

ADAM ASSENBERG: A friend of mine in Oregon when I was living down there for a while saw me go through one of my seizures, passed me a marijuana joint and said I can’t see you go through this so try this. I was at my wits end at that point, ready to end my life. I thought, “I have nothing to lose.” I’d always been taught that marijuana was bad for you but within just a few inhales of that marijuana cigarette (which I like to use the name cannabis instead of marijuana – the slang name) the seizures went away and I had never felt so much relief from when I originally broke my back.

DEAN BECKER: This was a salvation so to speak. This allowed you to basically begin a new life. Did it not?

ADAM ASSENBERG: Yes it did. Then I turned around and found just how horrific the justice department treats anyone that needs this for medical purposes.

DEAN BECKER: So now the current situation is they overturned your conviction and they gave you back the cannabis that they took from you, correct?

ADAM ASSENBERG: That is correct. I went ahead and won my case on January 4 where the DA dismissed all charges. I went ahead and went back to court and on this last Monday the police went ahead and had to give me back all my cannabis.

I just loved how the sheriff’s department had to stand around and…it looked like they were beaten down when they had to give it to me.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s hope they were. The fact of the matter is this arrest, this situation was a major drain on your finances and just mental…your ability to function in society, right?

ADAM ASSENBERG: I look at it like this, Dean. It was a lot worse breaking my back originally. I look at the outcome of that situation in and upon itself. I discovered later on in life that they did catch 2 out of the 3 people that tried to kill me. It was found out in court that had they gotten a hold of the dynamite that they …it was destined to be used at a grade school in California.

I take a look at my current situation with how the justice department has beaten down me and my family over the medical use of marijuana and I look at all the people that have cancer, AIDS, and other things that are suffering end of life situations and they can handle it a lot less than what I can. All I have is a broken back.

My fight is strong in me. My will to go on is strong. I’ve been dead three times and come back. The last time I died I was dead for 3 minutes and it took the paddles twice to bring me back. There is just no stopping me. I’m going to fight this until patients and providers are no longer beaten down.

DEAN BECKER: As part of that effort, that fight you have filed a lawsuit. Have you not?

ADAM ASSENBERG: I actually go see my attorney tomorrow at 1 p.m. for paperwork on my civil suit. Once that’s done I’ll be taking my fight to federal court.

DEAN BECKER: How much are you seeking?

ADAM ASSENBERG: I am seeking 6 million dollars for the combination of 3 and one-half for the raid itself and then when I went ahead when this first happened and tried to go to the county commissioners they wrote me a letter saying if I tried to ask in a public meeting why is it a state paid sheriff can use state paid tax dollars to try to circumvent voter initiative 692 the county commissioners said that I would be arrested for trespass if I tried to ask that question by the sheriff that I’m complaining about.

DEAN BECKER: Those pesky amendments. What do they mean to elected officials.

Adam, I’m sure you will succeed in this. You have shown the frailty of these law enforcement tactics and you have set them up so to speak for a 6 million dollar payback. Wonderful news.

ADAM ASSENBERG: There’s another thing that’s come out of all of this too. That’s the fact that sheriffs throughout the United States can go ahead and violate voter initiatives, they can go ahead and circumvent any law that they want and violate any law that they want and they are held accountable to nobody.

We need to have someone be a watcher of the watchers because right now they are out of control and this needs to stop. Another issue about this is I found out from the governor’s office on down nobody is keeping track of how many tax dollars are being used to go ahead and prosecute people in states where marijuana is legal.

DEAN BECKER: If for no other reason than the fact that once they threw you in jail, the effects of cannabis wore off and you were flopping around on that concrete floor as you said like a fish, right?

ADAM ASSENBERG: Yes. I went through 10 grand mal seizures while I was in the holding cell at the sheriff’s department, busting my head open on the cement enough to make it bleed. They just sat back on their monitors and watch and never tried to intervene whatsoever to protect my head.

DEAN BECKER: Alright friends we’ve been speaking with Mr. Adam Assenberg out of Washington State. He’s going to teach the cops a lesson I think.

Adam, share your website with the listeners, please.

ADAM ASSENBERG: http://marijuanafactorfiction.net and also .com and .org

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[game show music]

It's time to play Name That Drug by its Side Effects!

Reye’s syndrome, destructive effects on the heart and blood flow of newborn infants, severe constipation, diabetes, dysentery, hemophilia, kidney disease, gout, upset stomach and ulcers…

{{{ gong }}}

Time’s up. The answer, from the manufacture:

Pepto-Bismol…nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea! Pepto-Bismol – it does more than you think.

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Abolitionist Moment.

Prohibition is an awful flop. We like it.

It can’t stop what it’s meant to stop. We like it.

It’s left a trail of graft and slime. It don’t prohibit worth a dime.

It’s filled our land with vice and crime…nevertheless, we’re for it.

Franklin Adams, 1931

Through a willing or silent embrace of drug war we are ensuring more death, disease, crime and addiction.

Some have prospered from a policy of drug prohibition and dare not allow their stance taken to be examined in a new light.

But, for the rest, ignorance and superstition will eventually be forgiven.

What Houston has done, in the name of drug war, will never be forgotten.

Please visit http://endprohibition.org Do it for the children.

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DEAN BECKER: Hi. This is Dean Becker inviting you to join us on the Unvarnished Truth Television program. It airs locally on HMS TV. Check your local cable listings for when. You can check it out online at unvarnishedtruth.org.

We interview people from around the world and provide segments from major broadcasters underscoring the need to end this eternal drug war. unvarnishedtruth.org

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DEAN BECKER: The following interview with Aaron Sandusky who faces 10 years in prison for growing weed courtesy Reason TV.

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AARON SANDUSKY: This is a constitutional battle and we’re going to defend our rights.

REPORTER: And you’re willing to risk jail for that?

AARON SANDUSKY: Absolutely.

REPORTER: In late 2011 the Obama administration’s justice department initiated a major crackdown on California’s medical marijuana dispensaries despite repeated promises to the contrary.

BARACK OBAMA: What I’m not going to be doing is using justice department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.

LAW ENFORCEMENT REPRESENTATIVE: The President said during the campaign, you will be surprised to know, will be consistent with what we will be doing here with law enforcement.

REPORTER: At the time Reason TV profiled Aaron Sandusky who ran several successful dispensaries and a grow house in California’s Inland Empire. He was shocked to have received a threatening letter from the Department of Justice.

AARON SANDUSKY: I turned white. It was unexpected.

REPORTER: During the production of that video Sandusky’s operation was shutdown. All of his assets seized.

AARON SANDUSKY: I got 60 dollars in my pocket. That’s it. I don’t have nothing.

REPORTER: After he and several other operators took their cases to court they successfully won injunctions against cities trying to ban dispensaries and Sandusky re-opened as the case continued all the way up to the California Supreme Court.

But the feds were not happy with this outcome.

ATTORNEY: We’ve been battling the city and actually winning cases including a recent eviction case that G3 won. The federal government has stepped in and shut it all down.

REPORTER: Sandusky has spent the last 7 weeks in county prison awaiting a bond hearing. Now he’s out on bail under house arrest awaiting trial for federal drug trafficking charges.

He agreed to sit down with Reason TV to discuss the situation and the state of medical marijuana in California.

AARON SANDUSKY: This was my first time in prison. I was surrounded mostly by people who were in for parole violations and/or possession of drugs or people who were in violation of parole with drug violations. We’re populating our prisons with people who really shouldn’t be there.

REPORTER: What was it like that first night you spent in jail?

AARON SANDUSKY: That was a cold night. It was sleeping on a steel bed and not knowing what’s going to happen, unable to make phone calls, wondering what really was going on. Nobody treats you through that whole process as if you are any chance of being innocent. You are guilty until proven innocent.

It’s unfortunate that the federal government has taken this type of action against me. I think not only is it an action against me personally I consider it an aggressive action against everybody in our state and especially all of those who voted for medical marijuana. They strategically hit people that are high profile cases to get more bang for the buck.

Our case was being heard in front of the California Supreme Court on whether or not cities can go against the laws of the state. It was a high profile case and it got a lot of media attention.

With our particular situation and our cooperative we had 50 full-time W2 employees that in one day everybody lost their job, had to file for unemployment and lost their medical benefits. 50 employees being put on unemployment was a 70,000 obligation now put on the state for no other reason than local officials requesting this kind of action from the federal government.

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DEAN BECKER: The following segment courtesy KOMO News Seattle.

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MICHAEL VAN DITTO: I’ve never been so sick in my life.

MATT MARKOVICH: A man claims medical marijuana made him seriously ill.

MICHAEL VAN DITTO: Inflamed lungs, total disorientation…I could only get out of bed for an hour or two.

ANCHORMAN: Tonight the Problem Solvers investigate problem pot and why the state refuses to get involved.

DONN MOYER: The state has no responsibility in the regulatory functions of medical marijuana.

ANCHORMAN: 100,000 people in our state have a medical marijuana authorization card that lets them grow marijuana or be part of a co-op that grows and sells it to them but that’s where the protections end.

ANCHORWOMAN: KOMO Problem Solver Matt Markovich went undercover. He found sick people who may rely on medical marijuana have no legal recourse if they get bad pot.

MATT MARKOVICH: Everything about medical marijuana is based on trust.

MICHAEL VAN DITTO: I started smoking it when I became depressed and it helped me tremendously.

MATT MARKOVICH: Michael Van Ditto has been a card-carrying marijuana smoker for years but then he stopped.

MICHAEL VAN DITTO: I’ve never been so sick in my life - total weakness, inflamed lungs, total disorientation. I could only get out of bed for an hour or two.

MATT MARKOVICH: He suspected it was from fungus in marijuana he bought at the North Seattle Collective.

MICHAEL VAN DITTO: I only became ill when I started shopping at this particular marijuana medical shop.

MATT MARKOVICH: He says his doctor couldn’t identify his illness but his symptoms were akin to fungal pneumonia. For people with compromised immune systems fungus in pot could lead to a deadly infection called Aspirgoelosis.

RANDY OLIVER: Basically the fungus takes up residence instead of on the plants suddenly it’s growing on your lungs.

MATT MARKOVICH: Van Ditto considered the medical pot he bought a health hazard and wanted it tested by authorities but he quickly realized a predictiment facing all medical marijuana users – there’s no public agency he can turn to.

DOUGLAS HIATT: People think it’s legal for all these other purposes but it isn’t.

MATT MARKOVICH: Van Ditto asked for help from the Problem Solvers. We wanted to test the marijuana the collective was selling so we outfitted Van Ditto with a hidden camera because he’s authorized to buy medical marijuana. Only members are allowed in the collective’s bud room.

With more than 30 strains to choose from Van Ditto let an attendant choose a strain for him – Grand Daddy Haze. We then turned to the state agency charged with protecting residents from health hazards – the Department of Health. We wanted them to test the pot for fungus but the Department of Health says it legally cannot do so issuing a statement saying, “The Department of Health has no authority to inspect or check quality of marijuana.”

We then went to the State Liquor Control Board – the agency that will oversee the upcoming so-called legal recreational use and sale of marijuana and that includes consumer safety.

PAT KOHLER: We’re supposed to set a quality of standards making sure that consumer safety is involved in this.

MATT MARKOVICH: But here’s the irony: It cannot legally set up protections for medical marijuana users – sick people who may need it the most.

PAT KOHLER: The state has no responsibility in the regulatory functions of medical marijuana and Initiative 502 doesn’t impact medical marijuana either.

DOUGLAS HIATT: It’s sending the wrong message to people.

MATT MARKOVICH: Doug Hiatt is an attorney representing users and growers of marijuana. He blames the mixed messages on conflicting and poorly written laws and believes the state won’t ever get involved in pot testing because the federal government sees marijuana as illegal.

DOUGLAS HIATT: You’re subjecting state employees to federal criminal law.

RANDY OLIVER: This should catch almost everything that’s growing…

MATT MARKOVICH: So concerned users are leaving it up to an industry of private laboratories like Analytical360 in North Seattle to perform quality testing on pot.

RANDY OLIVER: There is an issue with things being tainted. I’m crushing it up here.

MATT MARKOVICH: Analytical360 tested the pot for fungus immediately after Van Ditto bought it.

RANDY OLIVER: You can’t tell what it is by smelling it or tasting it. You have to actually have a chemical analysis done.

MATT MARKOVICH: The lab says it exceeded the acceptable range of fungus for therapeutic marijuana. At this rate smoking it could lead to fungal pneumonia and sick people shouldn’t be smoking it.

We wanted another test. A month after the first buy Van Ditto went back to the dispensary buying some A-Train – another strain of marijuana the attendant suggested. Analytical360 tested it. The fungus levels were lower than the first sample but still above the acceptable range for therapeutic marijuana.

We then told North Seattle Medical Collective of our hidden camera investigation.

LISA DANK: We inspected all of the products and it seemed OK to us and we smoked it obviously because we try everything.

MATT MARKOVICH: The collective uses ultraviolet light to test the marijuana it gets from growers.

LISA DANK: If there was anything that was moldy it would show up green.

MATT MARKOVICH: But after viewing Analytical360’s results online it’s Grand Daddy Haze and A-Train are…

LISA DANK: …no longer available. Growers have been alerted that it’s not acceptable.

MATT MARKOVICH: Dank says because of our investigation they will now offer full microbial testing on all of its products.

[speaking with Lisa Dank] Because we came in with our camera that you are now going to do microbial testing instead of this?

LISA DANK: Absolutely.

MATT MARKOVICH: So it comes down to this. The business of medical marijuana is all about trust because the user has no legal protections from buying bad pot.

LISA DANK: We operate on a certain level of trust. If there is something wrong or they’re experiencing side effects they should come and tell us.

MATT MARKOVICH: Van Ditto says he’s not going to smoke marijuana anymore or not until there’s a quality control system in place that he trusts.

MICHAEL VAN DITTO: I don’t want to take the chance of getting deathly ill again.

MATT MARKOVICH: In Seattle, Matt Markovich, KOMO 4 News.

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DOUG McVAY: The University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future project has released its “National Results on Adolescent Drug Use: Overview of Key Findings, 2012.” According to the survey, quote: “Marijuana use, which had been rising among teens for the past four years, continued to rise in 2011 in all prevalence periods for 10th and 12th graders; but in 2012 these increases halted. The recent rise in use stood in stark contrast to the long, gradual decline that had been occurring over the preceding decade. (Although use among 8th graders had been rising, annual prevalence decreased after 2010.) It is relevant that perceived risk for marijuana has been falling for the past six years, and disapproval declined for the past three to four years. These changes would normally portend a further increase in use.

“Of particular importance, daily marijuana use increased significantly in all three grades in 2010, rising further in all three grades in 2011, and leveled in 2012. Daily use now stands at 1.1%, 3.5%, and 6.5% in grades 8, 10, and 12. In other words, roughly one in fifteen high school seniors today is a current daily, or near-daily, marijuana user.” End quote.

Further, they note that, quote: “Most of the other individual illicit drugs showed no significant change in use between 2011 and 2012. Only ecstasy, salvia, heroin used without a needle, Vicodin, and Oxycontin showed statistically significant declines this year. Both of the licit drugs, alcohol and tobacco, also showed some further decline in 2012, though the story for alcohol is mixed. ” End quote.

The report notes that, quote: “Among 12th graders, binge drinking peaked with overall illicit drug use in 1979. Binge drinking then declined substantially from 41% in 1983 to a low of 28% in 1992, a drop of almost one third (also the low point of any illicit drug use). Although illicit drug use rose sharply in the 1990s, binge drinking rose by only a small fraction and was followed by some decline at all three grades. By 2012, proportional declines since the recent peaks reached in the 1990s were 62%, 36%, and 25% for grades 8, 10, and 12, respectively. However, in 2012 binge-drinking rose significantly among 12th graders, from 22% to 24%. ” End quote.

They further note that, quote: “It should be noted that there is no evidence of any displacement effect in the aggregate between alcohol and marijuana­a hypothesis frequently heard. The two drugs have moved much more in parallel over the years than in opposite directions, at least until the past four years, during which time alcohol continued to decline while marijuana reversed course and rose. Moreover, these two behaviors have consistently been positively correlated at the individual level. ” End quote.

The displacement effect hypothesis is that increased availability and use of legal marijuana will lead to reduced use of alcohol. Controversial yet plausible, and it's an idea to which a lot of reformers have pinned their hopes. The old prohibition model for marijuana exacts too high a social and economic cost, even with so many states having decriminalized or adopted treatment alternative schemes for drug offenders. The real political question has always been, can the social benefits of marijuana legalization outweigh the potential social costs? Monitoring the Future, indeed.

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay with Common Sense for Drug Policy.

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BORAD: Hello, this is Borad. Please tell your children to buy my opium and heroin so my children can live long enough to grow enough for harvest. Thank you.

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TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

Our Governor wants to pass a law that requires people on welfare or receiving government financial aid to pass a drug test before they can qualify for the aid. Not to mention that the program was a total failure in Florida and finally declared unconstitutional the people most affected by this punishment will not be the ones testing positive for drugs. Many of the people on aid have families with small children. So if the mom or dad test positive the ones punished most are the kids that are innocent. That is the one of manyh problems with drug laws...they damage the people most that they allegedly are designed to protect.

Incarcerating a drug offender and leaving his kids without one of their parents or placed into foster homes is not in the best interest of all Texans. These kids, according to statistics, have about a 25% chance of going to prison themselves. And we all know
that to keep a person in prison costs way more than the financial aid does.

This is just one of many examples of why we really need to change our drug prohibition laws. They cause far more harm than they do good and they are not cost effective. I wonder why we are willing to pay 25 to 50 thousand dollars a year to incarcerate someone but are not willing to spend half that amount helping them overcome their situations and become more productive citizens. Contrary to what some believe all people receiving aid are not deadbeats and many are there due to circumstances that they were unable to control. Loss of job, injury, sickness, etc.

LEAP is not for drug abuse of any kind but we are for drug legalization and for a system of regulation and control . We are not for drug legalization because we want less control of dangerous drugs...we are for legalization because to regulate and control anything it must first be legal. And the decriminalization models that have been tried have reduced drug abuse but decriminalization leaves the drug gangs and cartels in charge of the distribution...in charge with their death and destruction and beyond control of law enforcement.

Please let your elected officials know that you want them to fix problems and not contribute to them. It way past time that we address the issue and fix the problem regarless of how much money drug testing brings to their campaign contributors, how much money they make off of private prisons, how much money they make confiscating property and money from our citizens. Many of you may not know it but drug laws have made it possible for the police to take your money or property without you ever having been convicted of anything. Let’s stop this madness before it becomes your problem too. Because it will not always be the other guy that get caught up in the drug law web.

This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.leap.cc signing off. Stay safe.

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We are the plant police
With each arrest we bring peace
We fight eternal wars
So you can never score
Yes, we are the plant police

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DEAN BECKER: Reporting on the drug war is like shooting fish in a barrel after you’ve drained the water and the fish are dead just lying there real still.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org