Monday, April 2, 2012

Feds Raid Oaksterdam

Oaksterdam University - Quality Training for the Cannabis Industry
America's first cannabis college was founded in 2007 to provide students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry. Our faculty is comprised of the most recognized names in the California cannabis legalization movement. Since opening its doors in November of 2007, thousands of students have taken classes with the hope of entering the budding cannabis job field.
This morning around 8am Federal Marshalls raided Oaksterdam University, a cannabis college, medical marijuana training school at the epicenter of the marijuana movement in Oakland, California. Various cars without licence plates swept into the parking lot, armed agents wearing masks entered the building along with a locksmith, other agents roped off the scene with yellow tape while others stood guard outside…hiding behind dark glasses, weapons strapped to their legs. Around the corner, the Oaksterdam University gift shop also had armed Federal Marshalls guarding its entrance. City Council member Rebecca Kaplan said that Oakland Police nor the city were notified of this raid.

more > Federal Agents Raid Oakland's Oaksterdam University | STUFF STONERS LIKE
page includes some youtube videos

Kush Magazine - PRESS RELEASE: Gun Violence Kills 7 as Feds Target Medical Cannabis in Oakland

...The voters of the City of Oakland have repeatedly affirmed their support for the regulated distribution of medical cannabis. In response, elected officials and city staff developed the most successful model of cannabis regulation in the state. This system stands in stark contrast to the failed policies of the federal government.

Oakland's successful system has provided safe access for patients, created hundreds of well-paying jobs, generated millions of dollars of tax dollars, and reduced the burden on law enforcement. It is a system that has benefited all Oaklanders, not just those who rely on cannabis for medicine.

In contrast, if the US Attorneys are successful in their nationwide campaign, millions of patients will be taken out of safe facilities and returned to street dealers, tens of thousands of well-paying jobs will be destroyed, hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue destroyed—and all those assets will be returned to the criminal underground.

It is a policy with all downsides and no upsides; it’s a policy which hurts all Americans, not just those who rely on cannabis for medicine. Medical cannabis patients and their supporters should express their outrage directly to the US Attorneys, who have initiated and are continuing to prosecute this vicious campaign to suffocate safe access....

April 2 (Bloomberg) -- Oaksterdam University, which calls itself the first marijuana "college" in the U.S., was raided by the Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration. Federal agents raided the Oakland, California-based school today to serve a search warrant as part of a continuing investigation, said Arlette Lee, a spokeswoman for the IRS. The warrant was filed under seal in federal court, she said, declining to comment further. Jack Gillund, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag in San Francisco, also confirmed the raid and declined to comment. The school was founded in 2007. It offers classes in the chemistry and growing of marijuana, methods of ingestion, and a class on the legal issues concerning cannabis, including an introduction on the conflict between state and federal laws over the drug, according to its website.

"Agents with the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Internal Revenue Service's criminal investigation division are searching the university, owned by Richard Lee, at the corner of 16th Street and Broadway," the school said on its website.

Conflict Increased

The conflict between California and federal authorities over the enforcement of marijuana sales has increased since last year, when a Justice Department memo to U.S. attorneys said large-scale growers, sellers and distributors of marijuana may be prosecuted in states that have passed laws permitting medical use of the drug. California was the first state to permit marijuana consumption for medical purposes when voters approved a 1996 ballot measure. The dispensaries generate sales of as much as $1.3 billion a year and sales taxes of as much as $105 million annually, according to the Board of Equalization, the state's tax administrator. Last year's Justice Department memo supplemented a 2009 letter advising prosecutors that enforcement efforts against people using marijuana to treat cancer or other serious illnesses in accordance with state laws may not be "an efficient use of federal resources." The 2009 letter was "never intended to shield" larger scale cultivation, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole wrote in last year's memo.

State laws or local ordinances are "not a defense" to civil or criminal prosecution of such cultivation, according to the memo. Lee didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. Some San Francisco supervisors and state politicians planned a demonstration in the city tomorrow to protest federal crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries. Oaksterdam University sponsored a 2010 ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana use in California. The measure failed in a statewide vote.

Oaksterdam Marijuana School in California Raided by U.S.

OAKLAND, California (Reuters) - Federal agents raided a cannabis cultivation college on Monday in the San Francisco Bay area widely known as the "Princeton of Pot" and the "Harvard of Hemp," authorities said, as the U.S. government pressed its clamp-down on medical marijuana.

The sweep turned the college, which offers courses in the growing and dispensing of marijuana, into the latest flashpoint between federal law enforcement and medical cannabis advocates in California and other states where pot has been decriminalized for medicinal purposes.

"This is clearly an attack on regulation," Oaksterdam University Chancellor Dale Sky Jones said. "They just went after a school that tries to teach people how to do things legally."

Several dozen protesters gathered at the school after the raid, some of them openly smoking joints as they carried signs that read "End federal interference" and "Cannabis is medicine."

Oakland police handcuffed at least one demonstrator, but the reason for the arrest was not immediately clear.

Jones said veteran medical marijuana activist and Oaksterdam founder Richard Lee was awakened on Monday morning by federal agents conducting a separate search of his home, but he was not arrested.

Federal authorities said raids at Oaksterdam and other unspecified locations were carried out under a federal search warrant that was sealed by a judge, and they gave few details.

David McCullick, a faculty member at Oaksterdam, said a marijuana museum near the school and a medical cannabis dispensary run by Lee were also raided. He said the school's "grow lab" contained at most 80 to 90 small cannabis plants, while the museum contained a single plant encased in glass.

"Here you've got a school that's licensed by the city," he said. "It's just a school. It's freedom of speech," he said.

Joycelyn Barnes, special agent for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's San Francisco Division, said DEA officers were joined by personnel from the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Marshals Service in the operation...

...The Obama administration has said it would not single out individual patients who possess or grow their own marijuana in states with medical pot statutes. But U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and various federal prosecutors have said the government would continue to target operations that support for-profit, illegal drug dealing under the guise of medical marijuana.

Oaksterdam holds classes on Wednesday mornings and one weekend every month.

One demonstrator outside the school on Monday, a 50-year-old laborer on disability with a back injury, said he had taken a class called "Horticulture 102."

"I tried it (marijuana) and it worked," said Michael Little Bear. "So the next step was I wanted to make it. There's goodness here. ... They teach the right way to do things," he said.

- Noel Randewich | Reuters

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