Federal Agencies Target Oaksterdam University

Oakland, CA: Agents from the US Marshalls, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Drug Enforcement Administration on Monday raided Oaksterdam University – a brick-and-mortar cannabis trade school – and several other properties rented by the facility’s founder Richard Lee. Lee, who was detained but later released without being arrested, bankrolled Proposition 19 in 2010, which sought to regulate the adult use, possession, and sale of cannabis to adults.

Spokespersons for the office of the US Attorney of Northern California, Melinda Haag, would not comment on the federal government’s actions. The warrant executed in the raid was filed under seal in federal court.

Over a hundred citizens protested on Monday outside of Oaksterdam as the federal raid took place. Several hundred additional protestors, as well as six San Francisco City Supervisors, gathered on Tuesday at San Francisco City Hall and outside of the offices of the Melinda Haag.

Speaking to news media on Monday, Oakland City Councilmember At Large Rebecca Kaplan said that Lee’s "involvement in Oakland has been overwhelmingly positive. … He’s been an exemplary community member." She added that the city of Oakland "was not involved" in the decision to target the Oaksterdam facility.

US Attorneys in California had previously stated that their offices would only become involved in instances where proprietors were in clear violation of state law or in cases where federal law enforcement were summoned at the behest of local officials.

In a prepared statement released following the raid, Lee said, "This was a senseless act of intimidation. But I’ve been an activist far too long to become intimidated."

Spokespersons for Oaksterdam University have pledged to reopen the school imminently.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500, or Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.