Future of Oaksterdam University in question

April 4, 2012 6:59:25 PM PDT
On Monday, while the shooting rampage unfolded at Oikos University, federal agents were busy raiding a major medicinal marijuana educational facility, also in Oakland. Now the future of Oaksterdam University is in question, while the war over federal versus state law shows no sign of letting up.

A sign on the door at Oaksterdam University asks current students to please call with their contact information. On Monday, federal agents hauled away computers and files. They also chopped mature plants and took the seedlings. The mess has been cleaned up, but tell-tale signs of the raid remain, like founder Rich Lee's splintered office door.

"Unfortunately, they just about took us out as far as the school goes, they definitely crippled us, in taking our files, our computers, but they didn't take our ability to teach the classes," said executive chancellor Dale Sky Jones.

Jones says there was class held on Wednesday, ironically about raid preparation and training for successful law enforcement encounters. The last class of the semester will be Saturday, after that the school's future is uncertain. She says they thought they were operating safely within state law.

"We never expected the federal government to use their resources on a school," said Jones.

Last year U.S. attorneys vowed to crack down on commercial marijuana enterprises.

Steve DeAngleo founded Oakland's enormously successful dispensary, the Harborside Health Center.

"The U.S. attorneys said they were going to focus on profiteers and on criminals, but what we've seen is instead they've gone after the most reputable and visible leaders of the medical cannabis movement," said DeAngleo.

DeAngelo thinks the raid's target was not the school, but its founder.

"I don't think it's coincidental that Rich Lee, the lead organizer and the lead fundraiser for Proposition 19, that very nearly legalized marijuana in California has now been targeted by the federal government. This is not about justice. It's about revenge," said DeAngelo.

"They've sort of flaunted to law and the government is just moving on them," said former U.S. attorney Joe Russoniello.

Russoniello believes those who advocate legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes really want it for recreational use.

"If you really peel the onion and get back behind these people who are claiming they need it because they have a hangnail or because they walk with a limp or something like this, it's really preposterous," said Russoniello.

The Oaksterdam search warrants are sealed.


Load Comments