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  1. talltom
    Oakland's Oaksterdam University, the country's first "cannabis college" aimed at training potential weed industry employees in such areas as horticulture and legal rights, was raided this morning by the DEA, the IRS and US Marshals. The school opened in 2007, but less than three weeks ago the city of Oakland approved four new medical marijuana dispensaries. Reports SF Gate:

    The federal agencies are conducting a joint investigation, she said.

    The raid comes fewer than three weeks after Oakland city officials issued preliminary approvals for four new medical marijuana dispensaries, even as federal prosecutors exerted increased pressure on medical cannabis dispensaries, forcing hundreds to close.

    Federal officials say they are concerned about dispensaries that are getting too big or too close to parks or schools. They have long asserted that federal law trumps the state's 1996 voter-approved law legalizing medical cannabis.

    An official from the IRS would not comment on the investigation to which is still developing.

    April 2, 2012,



  2. godztear
    Founder plans to give up Oaksterdam after raid

    Founder plans to give up Oaksterdam after raid

    Richard Lee, whose bid to legalize marijuana in California brought him international attention, plans to give up ownership of his Oakland-based marijuana businesses after a federal raid this week seized many of their assets, including plants, bank accounts, records and computers.

    “I’ve been doing this for a long time. Over 20 years.... I kind of feel like I’ve done my time,” Lee said Thursday. “It’s time for others to take over.”

    Lee said he would remain an outspoken marijuana advocate. “I believe that cannabis prohibition is unjust and counterproductive,” he said. “What I’ve done is ethical, and I tried to use the resources that I had to do everything I could to change the laws.”

    In some of his most extensive comments since the raid, Lee acknowledged that he was worried he could face major federal drug charges. It’s a risk he has lived with for many years, first as an underground pot grower and then as the leader of a serious legalization effort, which drew vigorous opposition from the federal government.

    “I never wanted to be the quote unquote leader of the legalization movement,” he said in a telephone interview. “I saw myself as just one small soldier in a big war. But I look at it as a battlefield promotion.”

    The former rock-band roadie and wheelchair-bound paraplegic, Lee, 49, is one of the highest-profile marijuana activists in the nation, if not the world. He became the telegenic spokesman for ending pot prohibition after he spent more than $1.5 million trying to pass Proposition 19 in 2010.

    Lee’s Oaksterdam University, the first marijuana trade school in the nation, remains open, although its classes have been scaled back. Lee’s dispensary is also open. He plans to transfer the businesses to new operators but said he will shut down his marijuana nursery because his stock of mother plants, which he had nurtured for years, was confiscated.

    --John Hoeffel
    April 5, 2012 | 9:39 pm

  3. talltom
    San Francisco Responds to Oaksterdam Raid With Pro-Pot Protest

    Members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and representatives of the city attorney, state legislators, and state officials jointed hundreds of medical marijuana patients and supporters for an energized rally at City Hall Tuesday afternoon before marching to the nearby federal building to demand that US Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag cease and desist in her attacks on the locally-regulated and -tolerated medical marijuana distribution in the city, the Bay area, and the state of California.

    The crowd was large and outraged by Monday morning's federal raid on the movement's iconic Oaksterdam University associated properties, and the home of Oaksterdam University founder and Proposition 19 funder Richard Lee. But that raid, which drew a heated reaction from activists who gathered in an emergency response to armed DEA, IRS, and US Marshals, went down after Tuesday's rallied had already been scheduled, and was only the latest in a recurring pattern of federal strikes against the movement and the industry going back to last fall.

    Since October, when California's four US Attorneys jointly opened their campaign against the dispensaries, five have been forced to close because of federal threats in San Francisco alone, and others are under current threat. Across the state, the number of federally-induced shutdowns is in the dozens, including some of the state's most venerable and most regulated medical marijuana enterprises.

    In San Francisco, patients, advocates, dispensary operators, the San Francisco chapter of Americans for Safe Access and members of the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force are launching a campaign, San Francisco United, to push city officials to take action to protect medical marijuana distribution in the city. It's not that they need a whole lot of pushing, given their recognition of the broad popularity of medical marijuana in the city where the movement was born.

    "By opposing federal interference, San Francisco officials are taking a stand for patients and for sensible public health policy," said ASA founder and Executive Director Steph Sherer. "The federal government must not be allowed to push patients into the illicit market without consequence."

    Looking out at the crowd gathered around the steps of City Hall waving a sea of "Cannabis Is Medicine, Let States Regulate" signs, Sherer told her audience the movement is having an impact. "Haag and Holder are watching you. You're frightening them," she said to wild cheers.

    "You're not alone; you have friends in city hall," Supervisor David Campos said as he stepped before the microphone. "This is a social justice issue; this is about safe access for patients," he said. "The voters have spoken, and we understand the importance of this issue. We need to expedite the permitting process so those closed dispensaries can reopen quickly."

    Supervisor Christina Olague assailed Haag's campaign against the dispensaries. "This is absurd," she told the crowd, calling for solidarity. "When one of us is attacked, all of us are attacked," she said.

    Cardboard cutouts of Haag's face on sticks allowed crowd members to wear "Haag masks" complete with blank speech balloons, on which protestors wrote "Quit vomiting and grow your own," "I love Romney," and similar witticisms.

    "Melinda Haag didn't know what she was getting into," said Quintin Mecke, spokesman for drug reformer state Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). "California is a sanctuary state, and California law is at stake. But this isn't just a San Francisco issue or a California issue, it's a national issue."

    Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have medical marijuana laws. In the past year, the DEA and other federal agencies have unleashed offensives against dispensaries in California, Colorado, and Montana, and have attempted to intimidate state officials in other medical marijuana states contemplating state-regulated distribution systems.

    Mecke also announced that Ammiano's bill which would set up a statewide system of regulated medical marijuana distribution, will get a first hearing next Tuesday in the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

    "I urge the federal government to halt its assault on dispensaries and cease its cruel attacks on patients and caregivers," said a spokesman for state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), another friend of drug reform in Sacramento. "Those federal dollars are better spent on programs that actually help people, and I'm concerned about this having a deleterious impact on the state's economy."

    Medical marijuana's contribution to the state economy is substantial, according to state Board of Equalization representative Allen Defazio. "The federal government needs to back off," he said. "The California system works, despite the federal government. Medical marijuana is generating $100 million a year in taxes."

    Passing motorists honked frequently in support as protestors made the brief march down Golden Gate Avenue to the federal building, where US Attorney Haag has offices on the 19th floor. Stone-faced, uniformed federal police looked on as the crowd gathered on the building's plaza to chant and shake its fists at her towering aerie.

    Phillip Smith
    Drug War Chronicle
    April 7, 2012

  4. talltom
    Why Obama's War on Pot won't Win Him More Votes

    The recent multi-agency federal raid of Oaksterdam University, a respected medical marijuana trade school in Oakland, has many people struggling to understand the Obama Administration's escalating campaign against medical cannabis. Most pernicious among these theories is an idea I've heard repeatedly from medical marijuana supporters in recent weeks: that Obama needs to take a tough stance as he gears up for the general election.

    It's an easy enough thing to say, but it's wrong, and people who want to change our marijuana laws would be wise to stop talking this way. The truth is that the American people don't want a war on medical marijuana at all, and we're steering our leaders in the wrong direction -- both morally and politically -- when we suggest that voters support the reckless drug war posturing of the past.

    Sure, there was a time when politicians fanned the flames of anti-drug hysteria to powerful political effect. Knowing this history is important, but equally critical is the recognition that history, by definition, lies behind us. The "crack epidemic" of the 1980s, the death of Len Bias, the "soft on crime" attack ads that ravaged democratic nominee Mike Dukakis' 1988 presidential campaign; these were events of political significance, but they're a terrible measure by which to assess the implications of an issue like medical marijuana in an election nearly a quarter century later.

    In fact, the question of whether Obama can safely stand up for medical marijuana is incredibly easy to answer. He already did. The president was elected on a platform that included pulling the plug on federal interference with state medical marijuana laws. Everyone knew that was his position, many supported it vigorously and perhaps more significantly, no one criticized him for it.

    To even suggest that Obama has to appear "tough on drugs" in order to deflect political attacks is preposterous. What political attacks? When have we ever heard him criticized for any such thing? There is literally no constituency in the American electorate that is pressuring Obama to wage war against medical marijuana. The president could, in all likelihood, speak passionately in favor of medical marijuana from now until November without losing a single vote (and picking up more than a few for his trouble). To explain this, one need only look to the polls showing that eight out of 10 Americans support medical marijuana.

    If anyone in the Obama Administration actually believes they're scoring political points by waging war on voter-approved medical marijuana laws, they've got another thing coming. In 2012, the smart political approach to marijuana policy is to look at today's polling, not yesterday's posturing.

    Scott Morgan
    Huffington Post
    April 17, 2012

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