|Proud storm troopers: Cocky federal agents outside Oaksterdam University on Monday morning|
“Confirmed RAID currently happening at Oaksterdam University – DEA and IRS. Please come show support, bring signs, get the word out. 1600 Broadway and 1776 Broadway Oakland!” – Sacramento Americans for Safe Access (Facebook status update, 8:20 a.m.)
Oakland’s Oaksterdam University, famed as the first and probably biggest institution of cannabis education, was taken over by federal agents on Monday morning.
Toke of the Town was able to confirm reports Monday morning that owner Richard Lee had at first been detained in his apartment by federal agents. He was reportedly released around 10 a.m.
Officers wearing U.S. Marshals, Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration jackets swarmed over the Oakland medical marijuana teaching facility at the corner of 16th Street and Broadway before 8 p.m. Monday morning, reports NBC Bay Area. Yellow “crime scene” tape was keeping everyone away.
“There are hundreds of protesters, a lot of Oakland Police — like all of them,” Toke of the Town Northern California correspondent Jack Rikess told us. “Harborside Health Center and all other local dispensaries have been left alone. This is directed at Richard Lee. All his enterprises have been shut down and closed.”
Even cannabis history apparently is now against federal law, too — the nearby Oaksterdam Museum was also being taken over and blocked off by federal agents, according to NBC Bay Area’s Christie Smith.
DEA agents leaving the scene of the raid with records were not escorted by Oakland Police Department officers. OPD officers did form a cordon at the front of Oaksterdam’s building, but DEA agents left the building unaccompanied, and several of the federal vehicles at the scene had no identifiable license plates, violating California law.
Law enforcement agents on the scene wouldn’t comment on the raid on the “Princeton of Pot,” other than to say it is part of “an ongoing investigation” and that the “details are sealed.”
Arlette Lee (no relation to Richard Lee), an IRS spokeswoman, said she couldn’t say why the agents were there other than to confirm that they were serving a federal search warrant, reports Henry K. Lee (no relation to Richard Lee) of the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Everything’s under seal,” Lee said, referring to the search warrant and other documents related to the raid. “We’re not able to comment as far as the nature of this ongoing investigation.”
Cannabis college Oaksterdam was founded in 2007 by entrepreneur Richard Lee, and it, along with Coffee Shop Blue Sky, helped to revitalize an entire neighborhood in Oakland — an area formerly ravaged by crime. The area is now known as the city’s “downtown cannabis district.”
The curriculum centered on the business of medical marijuana. Oaksterdam, since the federal crackdown, has seen its enrollment fall, reports KTVU. At its height, the cannabis college once ran seven semester-long classes, each with 70 students paying $700 to $800 tuition.
However, its most recent school period featured only one semester class of 50 students, according to KTVU.
Oaksterdam “provides students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry,” according to its website. “Our faculty is comprised of the most recognized names int he California legalization movement.”
|Mike Lucia/Ventura County Star|
|Happier days: Richard Lee, president of Oaksterdam University in Oakland, looks over plants in the school’s grow room. Oaksterdam University, established in 2007, has taught more than 6,000 students about marijuana horticulture, legal issues and business management. Lee was a major backer of Proposition 19, a proposed initiative that would have legalized marijuana in California in 2010|