03/20/11 Sanho Tree

Sanho Tree of the Institute for Policy Studies in DC, Adam Assenberg reports DEA theft of Social Security funds for running compassion club in Wash state

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Sanho Tree
Institute for Policy Studies



Cultural Baggage / March 20, 2011


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!”


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.


Hello my friends, welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. Here in just a moment we’re going to bring in our guest, Mister Sanho Tree. But first I want to share this little message with you and then we’ll be back with Mister Tree.


(Serene music)


Teaching the choir to sing…



This is indeed the Drug Truth Network. I’m Dean Becker and I am proud to have you listening to us proud to have all of the listeners across the US and Canada tuning in. The time has come to change our focus, to change our direction and change the procedures in “waging this Drug War.” Let’s welcome our guest. Sanho, are you there, sir?

Sanho Tree: Yes Dean. Good to be with you.

Dean Becker: Yes, thank you, Sanho. Yeah, I wanted to talk with you about this situation. You’ve been at this for quite some time. You’re still with the Institute of Policy Studies there in Washington, DC, right?

Sanho Tree: Yes, uh huh.

Dean Becker: You’ve toured the country. You’ve toured at least Central and South America trying to discover the facts about this Drug War but the truth of the matter is, it seems to be clinging to belief that it is worth continuing. Too many of our politicians seem to have that belief. Do they not?

Sanho Tree: Well, I don’t know if it’s a question of whether they actually believe what they are voting in or they are too afraid to say what is really on their minds. I think when I first started in this field more than a dozen years ago, you might have found perhaps a majority of the members of Congress actually believing in the Drug War.

Now, I think after all these years of failure both in Columbia, Afghanistan and Mexico, not to mention domestically, whether a majority still really believes that. They continue to vote for it however and that’s the problem.

Dean Becker: Isn’t it though. The fact of the matter is I think you’re hitting the nail of the head. I think the majority of the populace, the voters, realize that this Drug War is not working out.

Sanho Tree: Yes.

Dean Becker: I think they’re afraid to speak and up afraid to challenge their elected officials to make that change because of that same inherent fear of rattling the cage, I guess, right?

Sanho Tree: Yeah, I think the voters are well ahead of politicians and so are the media. I think the last demographic that will speak the truth on this issue are politicians who still have to worry about getting re-elected and for them they perceive this to be some kind of third rail issue but I think they have—a lot of politicians have a very reptilian memories.

Dean Becker: (Laughs)

Sanho Tree: That is to say, “Fire burned. Bad. Stay away!”

Dean Becker: (Laughs)

Sanho Tree: And they think the lessons that they learned from the 1980s and 1990s still apply to today with regard to drugs. We’re living in a totally new atmosphere. It’s a different country now with a different generation in power but a lot of their fear based memories still linger on

Dean Becker: Sanho, I belong to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. We’re a group of current and former cops. Most of us, nearly all of us, have left law enforcement before we dared to join up with LEAP. I think the same holds true for most elected officials, politicians, and criminal justice folk. But in Central and South America there are some ex-presidents who are now calling for a total examination and some calling for a total legalization, right?

Sanho Tree: Yeah, yeah quite a few former Presidents of Columbia, Mexico – two former presidents of Mexico, a former of Brazil. These are not insignificant figures by any stretch.

And even in the US, we have some current politicians who are willing to speak out on this. The most recent is Congressman Jared Polis from Colorado. Not only is he speaking out for it, he’s full out in favor of marijuana legalization and has started a group a PAC called the Fearless Campaign. People should check that out.

It’s he and a few other members of Congress that are not afraid of perceived third rail issues, be it gay marriage, be it drug policy reforms or that sort of thing. They’re taking the bull by the horns and I think they should be supported.

Dean Becker: You know, I can’t think of the gentlemen’s name but a former US Attorney, up in Washington, was also quoted and testified calling for the legalization of marijuana up there, as well, so.

Sanho Tree: Yeah and the Seattle Times also came out in favor of this which, certainly alarmed the Drug Czar’s office, you know, the first major print newspaper coming out for full-on legalization.

Dean Becker: You know, Sanho, I envy you. You’ve had a chance to speak with some former Drug Czars, Gil – I mean uh… I’m drawling a blank.

Sanho Tree: Gil Kerlikowske or McCaffrey?

Dean Becker: McCaffrey! There it is. I couldn’t think. I was going to call him McAlister. Alright.

Sanho Tree: (Laughs)

Dean Becker: And you’ve had a change to sit down with them. Tell us about the discussion or the dialogue during those gatherings.

Sanho Tree: Well, I haven’t sat down with McCaffrey. I’ve sat down with him in Q&A format at the various conferences and things.

Dean Becker: Oh, okay.

Sanho Tree: But the current Drug Czar, Kerlikowske, I’ve met with a couple of times with both he and his senior staff.

Dean Becker: And how did that go? What was the discussion like?

Sanho Tree: Well, the first couple of time he did it when Obama first came into office. It was kind of, very pro-forma. It was the administration and the drug policy formers that had supported Obama. They had to give us a meeting and listen to us and that sort of thing, versus the Bush Administration’s Drug Czar Office had a prohibition against meeting with any of us who were funded by Soros or any of that kind of stuff.

So, we had meeting with Kerlikowske’s office. We exchanged pleasantries and we told them our critiques and they gave us some of their defenses. They changed some of their rhetoric in their national drug control strategy and ending the—dropping the phrase “War on Drugs” but their budgets didn’t change a whole lot.

This year it’s starting to change a little bit more and also they’re listening more. I mean, before I thought they were just kind of like making nice-nice with us but now listening.

My most recent meeting last month or this month actually, I got to talking about Mexico and they actually, this time, took lots and lots of notes because I think they realize they’re in a very sticky situation.

They have a bunch of tactics that they have no grand strategy and they’re— I mean talk about all the conflicts we’re in with no exit strategy right now. I think people are really reluctant to get deeper into wars without figuring out exactly what it is that we are after.

Dean Becker: Yeah, you think if we hadn’t of been hip deep with in Afghanistan and Iraq, we might have helped those Libyans to fight Kaddafi a little sooner.

Sanho Tree: Yeah.

Dean Becker: Or we would have thought about it sooner. I’m sure.

Sanho Tree: Yeah.

Dean Becker: Once again folks, we’re speaking with Mister Sanho Tree of the Institute of Policy Studies based in Washington DC. Now, Sanho, besides your work with Institute of Policy Studies are you still doing work with Al Jazeera?

Sanho Tree: Oh, I’m a regular commentator on their shows, the same with Russia Today and some of these international cable news channels. They’re – they seem to be far more willing to talk about drug policy reform and take it more seriously than more of our domestic cable news channels.

Dean Becker: But again, I think they, meaning our domestic networks, are being to at least delve into it. Maybe not putting forth any answers necessarily but starting to show the depth of the problem, right?

Sanho Tree: Yeah. I mean I would— like MSNBC for instance needs to do more on this issue. CNN has done some stuff on it but when you think about the kinds if issues that they are covering, with all of the conflicts around the world, we’re up to 36,000 dead in Mexico because of the Drug War. Why is that hot worthy of full-on coverage, the way that were covering conflicts in Afghanistan and in other places?

Dean Becker: It does make you wonder why the— just that carnage is not recognized for what it is. It’s the deadest war on the planet right now

Sanho Tree: Well, certainly Ciudad Juarez is one of the most deadliest cities on the planet but it’s not a narrative that lends itself to easy news reporting. There are no easy answers in this conflict.

I think the lack of a “good guy” or Americans like to think of who do we support? Who are the good guys? Which team do we route for? Is it option A or option B? We like to think of terms of black and white or good and bad. When it comes to shade of grey and spectrum of possibilities, the narrative gets much murkier for a lot of the TV programs to follow. For instance—

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Sanho Tree: So, we have tactics in Mexico. We’re fracturing the drug trafficking organizations. That seems to be the buzz word going around, we’re going to either fracture or break them up into smaller units, etcetera. But that’s not really an end game, it doesn’t get us anywhere.

If you look at the history of this tactic, we’ve been fracturing drug trafficking organizations in Columbia for more than twenty years where has that gotten us?

Today – back when Plan Columbia was still being debated back in 2000 and 2001, more the 90% of our cocaine in the United States came from Columbia. Today, it’s about 97% originating from Columbia.

Dean Becker: Lordy! (Laughs)

Sanho Tree: This policy isn’t working.

Dean Becker: Ugh.

Sanho Tree: Granted, there may be slightly less cocaine coming into the United States but there’s a drop in all kind of spending. There’s drop in caviar consumption in the United States. No one has any money in this economy.

Dean Becker: If I dare say, also the divesture or the branching out if you will of these cartel drugs has really expanded, being routed through Africa now into Europe and Asia, right?

Sanho Tree: Yeah, In fact, there’s high consumption in cocaine, particularly in Europe and as the consumption in the United States drops and the currency, you know, the US dollar isn’t that valuable anymore, it make perfect sense for traffickers then to reroute their drugs into Europe where there is— law enforcement is less strict and the prices are much higher and the consumption is higher. It’s fashionable in a lot of Europe countries.

So, those traffickers are routing their cocaine across the South Atlantic into West Africa where it can then get shipped into Europe. This is having devastating effects on West African countries, which are already very fragile states to begin with.

They’re being asked to fight this problem, when some of these countries don’t even have working jails because they are that poor. These traffickers can bribe government officials and law enforcement with very little money

Dean Becker: Yeah. Yeah, it brings to mind the fortieth anniversary of the declaration of Drug War by President Nixon is coming up on this summer and right now in the fiftieth anniversary of the global war on drugs, I guess though the auspices of the UN. I have a goal for myself, as we move forward with the Drug Truth Network programs.

For years we’ve been talking about individual problems, the component problems of the Drug War but what we need to talk about, I think, is an comparison of the harms of drug use as compared to the harms of Drug War itself, all of the horrible blowback that comes forth from, well, despite our policy. Your thoughts there, Sanho?

Sanho Tree: Yeah, if you look at just the sheer body count of what’s going on across the border of Mexico just 36,000 dead since the beginning of 2007. How many people could possibly overdose on cocaine in the United States compared to that kind of number? Is that fair? Is it justified in any way, shape or form?

Think about all this bloodshed, not just in Mexico but in Columbia, South and Central America, people are killing each other over the right to sell minimally processed agricultural commodities that cost, in reality, pennies per dose. It’s the global regime of prohibition that gives this astronomical price support to these substances that ought to be relatively worthless.

Dean Becker: Right

Sanho Tree: It’s a self-inflicted wound.

Dean Becker: Indeed. I saw a report that I don’t know if it was from the ONDCP or who talking about the price of drugs that is $2480 bucks per kilo gram in Columbia and $10,000 per kilo in Mexico, $20,000 on this side of the border, up to $180,000 per kilo gram here in the US. The truth be told, the $2400 amount in Columbia would be 1/10th of that amount if it were allowed to be built truly en masse by a legitimate pharmaceutical company. It would indeed be pennies per dose, right?

Sanho Tree: Yeah and I spent a fair amount of time working with peasant farmers in Columbia, the ones who grow the coca. If people want, they can go to the web and look at a video I made called, Shoveling Water.

Dean Becker: Hm.

Sanho Tree: Just google “Shoveling Water” and “Sanho” and you’ll find it. Basically, I spend the day with Columbian cocaleros, coca farmers, turning the coca leaves, a couple of big sacks of coca leaves into coca paste using what they call a laboratory, which is basically a shack and a few basic chemicals.

You can create a kilo of this paste, which is what the middle man, these traffickers will then purchase and refine into pure cocaine and it’s a very simple backyard process. There’s nothing exotic about these plants. There is no reason it should be worth this much money but it’s the Drug War that gives it the price support, the subsidy, if you will.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Sanho Tree: And it’s not that these farmers are getting rich, by the way, these farmers are taking a tremendous risk but they have no other economic alternatives. So, they’re trapped in the system and they get very little money as a result of it. It’s the middle men and the smugglers who really get the lion share of the profits here.

Dean Becker: Right. Now Sanho, I want with you and members of Witness of Peace to Bolivia. It’s now been five six years ago, I guess.

Sanho Tree: Yeah.

Dean Becker: And while we were there we went to a prison I believe it was in Coche Bomba?

Sanho Tree: Um, hum.

Dean Becker: There were people in that prison, not necessary for coca or coca paste but sometimes for having too much toilet paper or steel wool.

Sanho Tree: Yeah.

Dean Becker: And tell us – that was just still shocks me to this day, the conditions in that prison, yeah.

Sanho Tree: Yeah, but things have gotten better under the new government of President Morales, Evo Morales, who’s a former coca grower— he’s a current coca grower himself, actually.

Dean Becker: Yeah.

Sanho Tree: And he represented coca grower’s unions. Yes, there are legacies of US – the Drug War and that law in Bolivia and there’s a similar one in Ecuador, I believe -- or there was – that was forced on these countries by the US embassies essentially and strong armed into adopting these very draconian laws, presumption of guilt rather than presumption of innocence, that rounded up lots and lots of low level people.

It’s horrendously brutal and absolutely unconstitutional by any stretch of the imagination. If these laws were ever applied in the United States – but not only low level coca paste smuggling but they go after precursors. So, toilet paper is used in the processing of coca leaf, to dry the stuff or too much baking soda. If you have a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda that basically virtually everyone has in this country has in their fridge, you would go to jail, because that can be used in the manufacture of coca paste.

Dean Becker: Man!

Sanho Tree: So, people have to justify why they need toilet paper or how much they have or how much gasoline they have, because it’s also used in processing. There’s a whole list of these substances that people can be thrown into jail for and it can be years before you can even see a judge or are even properly charged.

Dean Becker: Yeah. Once again, folks we’re speaking with Mister Sanho Tree from Institute of Policy Studies. Sanho, I’ve been talking about this for a couple of weeks. It’s getting to be more prevalent on every news show, nearly every news show and nearly every entertainment program, there’s something about drugs, drug use or maybe just part of the story, maybe something to laugh at or to cry about but it’s in every story.

I’m looking at yesterday’s [Houston] Chronicle. There’s a story in here; Most Mass Overdose Victims are released from Hospital. A bunch of kids took a fake drug, 2CE. One of them died and then today the Chronicle it says, From East End thugs to modern-day Mafia, How a group of small time criminals hit the big time on the streets of Houston and again smuggling drugs into the US for those enormous profits that were talking about.

I guess what I’m leading up to Sanho is that it seems to me at some point, it becomes overkill. We become inundated. We become swamped with this and we will have to face it at some point, will we not?

Sanho Tree: Absolutely, the cost of incarceration, not so much at the federal level but at the state level, is really killing a lot of state budgets. So, it’s forcing states all over the country to reexamine how we treat people who violate laws and whether those laws are really necessary or need to be revised.

Dean Becker: Yeah, yeah.

Sanho Tree: Because it’s costing too much.

Dean Becker: Sanho, I want to ask you to tell us about your most recent travel. You, as I said earlier, go to Central and South America a lot. What was your most recent trip you took?

Sanho Tree: Oh, it’s been a while. Funding is difficult in this environment right now.

Dean Becker: Oh yeah.

Sanho Tree: I’m telling you. Next month, for the first week of April I’ll be in Boulder, Colorado for the Conference of World Affairs and the third week of April, I will be on a speaking tour in Oregon and Washington State. So, people can follow me on Twitter, if you’d like. Check @SanhoTree for details.

Dean Becker: Okay, Sanho, we’ve got just a couple of minutes left, I want to ask you, if you will, to talk to my listeners to motivate them because that’s what this show is all about. It’s to embolden people. It’s to get them fortified with knowledge and set them to work and help bring an end to this madness. You’ve got about a minute. Please talk to my audience.

Sanho Tree: I’m a former historian and I’ll tell you, history is made by those who show up. The greatest way to make sure that nothing ever changes is to stay on your couch.

The squeaky wheel gets the oil and that is to say you have to express your views to your elected representatives, otherwise they assume you’re fine with what’s going on. You can’t just shout at your TV. They can’t hear you.

Dean Becker: (Laughs)

Sanho Tree: It’s not 1984. The TV doesn’t work two ways. (Laughs)

Dean Becker: Right

Sanho Tree: So, we have a passive culture. We’re taught to “shut up, shop and behave, take a pill to chill out” or whatever but in fact we need to be much more active consumers of Democracy.

Dean Becker: Yeah. No. Very strong points, my friend. Well Sanho, we will be following you on your travels and I want to thank you once again for being our guest and just for being somebody I admire, somebody whose courage and commitment in exposing this Drug War gives me hope.

Sanho Tree: Well likewise, Dean. Thank you very much

Dean Becker: Okay, Sanho. Well, have a great evening then and we’ll be talking to you soon my friend.

Sanho Tree: You too. Take care.

Dean Becker: Bye, bye.


(Game show music)

It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, itching, hair loss, sweating, swelling, thirst, vertigo, inflammation of the lung, kidney disease, congestive heart failure and headaches.


Time’s up!

The answer: Aleve, for headaches.


Dean Becker: You know, of late we’ve been talking about a lot of positive things happening in regard to marijuana, medical marijuana, even some good things potentially up in Washington State.

But here to tell us about some of the drawbacks of trying to follow the law, working in a compassion club is a gentleman who runs Marijuana: Fact or Fiction, another radio show up that way, is Mister Adam Assenburg. What in the hell’, going on up there?

Adam Assenburg: Well, I’ll tell you what Dean after doing my radio show for just a little over more than three years, I decided to go ahead and helping patients directly, hands on when I saw so many people skimming so much money off of patients. I wanted to do it directly for Compassion for Patients.

So, I went ahead a business license in Olympia and filed with the Department of Revenue, so I could pay my taxes properly. I opened up Compassion for Patients and Adam’s Incredible Medables in January of this year.

I just ended up finding out from my wife the other day when she tried to get groceries at the grocery store that our bank account was locked up where she could receive no funds. It was discovered that it was Bank of America that had closed our—not only family account but our business account for running a medical marijuana dispensary. There was plenty of evidence to show that with the family account it was direct deposit with Social Security checks and nothing else was going into it.

Dean Becker: Adam, this brings to mind that they don’t care about the fact in regards to money either. They just said we’re going to take it, without even telling you about it?

Adam Assenburg: That is correct. We have received no notification from the DEA, the bank or anything else. My wife’s first notification if it was when she went to the grocery store. No forward notice whatsoever and when I found out about this, I contacted several other dispensaries out in Spokane and found out the six other dispensaries have had their account frozen as well.

Dean Becker: Now Adam, you’re in a state where they’re even talking in the legislature about legalizing marijuana and you know, a year ago Obama said that as long as people are following state law they’ll be left alone but the truth of the matter is, they were lying.

Adam Assenburg: The truth of the matter is that two years ago, there was a gentlemen by the name of Scott Shupe that was running a dispensary called Change in Spokane, located over at the old address of 1514 West Northwest Boulevard and he got raided and just got done going to trial over this last Friday.

They took him to a state court, a superior court and he was convicted on all three counts: manufacturing, growing and distributing marijuana for medical patients and he was helping one patient at a time. It wasn’t like he had a huge crowd in there at any one time and they say he was a kingpin and they convicted him.

Dean Becker: A kingpin, huh? Well, you know the truth of the matter is, they have so much egg on their face about the real kingpins in Mexico, South America, Afghanistan and just getting away with it and fleecing us because of our ignorant belief in Drug War for hundreds of billions of dollars a year and yet they go after little folks like ya’ll. It’s preposterous.

Adam Assenburg: It’s not just a little folks like dispensaries. I mean, I help maybe ten patients a month with my center. It’s not like I do or anything else. I make medicated food for three centers out in Spokane. I make maybe about $1000 a month with what I call—what I sell it for but it costs me almost that much to make it and my gasoline to deliver it.

I’m making nothing on this. I’m doing this strictly for the patients. So, that way the patients are cared for now not only are we going to have to pay for it but the patients themselves are going to have no access to medicine, especially the ones that are in third stage cancer and other problems, where they cannot grow for themselves or are not in an area for a care provider. These are seriously sick people who are now going to have to suffer at the hands of our government.

Dean Becker: I’m flummoxed. I don’t know what to say other than God bless you my friend. Adam, share your website where folks can keep up with the news in this regard.

Adam Assenburg: Well, my website is marijuanafactorfiction.net. My direct phone number, where you can reach me directly over this issue of the raids is (509) 288-4799. Please people get a hold of me because of you keep silent now; you’re the ones who are going to suffer.

Dean Becker: A little bit of warning if you have any involvement with a cannabis dispensary get your money get your money out of the bank tomorrow because if you wait around too long, the DEA is hungry for cash and they’ll come and take it.


(Spanish acoustic music)

Announcer: He once won a debate with the Drug Czar with a single word:

Man: …Recognize.

Announcer: When quizzed about the use of clandestine methodry. He has a strong opinion.

Man: Hm. Uh….

Announcer: He is the most interesting man in the world…

Man: I don’t always do drugs but when I do, I prefer marijuana. Stay informed, my friends.


(Machine and rumbling sounds)
The last bastion of the drug warriors is that using marijuana requires you to smoke it. Vapormed out of Germany has now produced a machine that takes the smoking out of smoking marijuana. It’s called, the Volcano!
(Eruption sound)
They say the vaporizing method involves permeating the herbs with hot air.
Their website: vapormed.com.

Dean Becker: Alright, I hope you enjoyed our program today. Be sure to join us next week. Our guest on Cultural Baggage will be Mister Martin Lee. He’s author of Acid Dreams. We’ll be talking about the passage of Stanley Augustus Owsley.

Century of Lies next week will feature Doctor Tom O Connell. Lots of advice on the marijuana Drug War overall and that’s about it. As always, I remind you that because of prohibition, you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please be careful.


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.

Drug Truth Network programs are stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Policy Studies.

Transcript provided by: Ayn Morgan of www.eigengraupress.com

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.