Oaksterdam modifies operations in wake of raid

April 19, 2012 12:26:17 AM PDT
The head of Oaksterdam University, the Oakland-based trade school for the medical marijuana industry, said Wednesday that it is modifying its operations in the wake of a raid by federal officials two weeks ago.

Dale Sky Jones, the school's executive chancellor, said the raid "knocked the wind out of us" because federal officials "seized all of our computers, curriculum, files and records, which we desperately need in order to operate the school."

She said Oaksterdam, which is located at 1600 Broadway, only has its desks and chairs left after the raid and to survive it needs new students to enroll and donations from supporters who see a need for cannabis education and awareness.

Jones said the school, which was founded by Richard Lee in 2007, will license its curriculum to a new parent company in order to continue its mission of providing quality training for the cannabis industry.

"Oaksterdam University will survive and it simply has a new parent company," Jones said.

She said the university is leasing an auditorium at its current site on a month-to-month basis so it can continue offering classes there and is moving its offices to a much smaller space nearby, at 1734 Telegraph Ave.

On April 2, agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service raided the university as well as several medical marijuana businesses that he owns.

Following up on plans that he announced several days after the federal raid, Lee said he is now officially retired from the university so that he can pursue reforming drug policies full time.

Lee, 49, backed a close but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to legalize marijuana in California in 2010.

He said he will now focus his attention on campaigns to legalize marijuana in other states in November, such as Colorado and Washington.

"There is a struggle ahead but ultimately we will win," Lee said. Referring to the possibility that federal officials might

prosecute him, Lee said, "My future is very uncertain. I'm waiting to see what happens in a possible legal case."

Joining Jones and Lee in a conference call today, former state Sen. John Vasconcellos, who authored a bill signed in 2003 that established California's medical marijuana program, said the raid at Oaksterdam is part of "rampant fascist prosecutions" of medical marijuana facilities by federal officials.

Vasconcellos said federal policies for medical marijuana are "dishonest, outdated and fascist."

Lee said there will a day of action in Oakland and across the country on Friday to urge President Obama to change those policies.

Jones said the day of action is being held on Friday, which is April 20, because "420" is a common phrase used in cannabis culture and April 20 is a traditional day of celebration for cannabis.


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