Oaksterdam 'Cannabis' University raided by DEA

Oaksterdam University, America's "first cannabis college" was raided by the DEA yesterday, as well as the apartment of its founder Richard Lee. While the government has been fairly quiet about the reasons behind the raids, a local medical marijuana dispensary operator believes it has been done punitively. From the SF Chronicle:

It was Lee, after all, who in 2010 bankrolled Proposition 19, a statewide measure which would have legalized adult use of marijuana, regardless of medical necessity. Some 46 percent voted for the measure, the highest ever for any general pot legalization proposal in the country.

"They want to make sure he never again has the resources to do that," said Stephen DeAngelo, Harborside's co-founder and executive director. "Rich is not a profiteer. He is not a renegade ... Richard Lee is the most legitimate and real person in this industry."

Harborside, which DeAngelo said paid more than $3 million in local, state and federal taxes last year, is in litigation with the IRS about whether it should pay an additional $2.5 million for 2007 and 2008.

"They want to tax us out of existence," DeAngelo said. Monday's raids, he said, would not change Harborside's commitment to providing medical marijuana to its patients.

All of Monday's raid locations were at or near 17th and Broadway, and hundreds of Oaksterdam supporters swarmed there in protest over the course of the day. The demonstrators openly smoked joints and bongs in defiance, shut down streets, pounded on unmarked police vehicles and heckled agents.

Feds raid Oaksterdam University, founder's home


  1. Jesus, man. Richard Lee is an innovator and pioneer and a real job-creator. Let’s pause for a moment as we flush more of President Obama’s pretty progressive words down the toilet. State’s rights? Laughable.

    1.  You know, Texas always talks about secession. I think they should do it for the rest of the country’s benefit. On the other hand, I think CA should secede for their own benefit.

      1.  …the whole west coast! (well, everything north of Los Angeles).

        “Today in world news West America was officially formed by the seceding states of CA, OR and WA…”

        (and if Canada would approve it we could take British Columbia too  :D)

        1.  As a British Columbian I wouldn’t approve. Canada is so much closer to legalization than the US.

          I haven’t smoked pot in almost 30 years, but I have always endorsed the right of people to self-determination. It is wrong to legislate morality when no harm is being done to another.

      2. Sadly we can’t blame put all the blame for this on the rest of the country. A majority of Californians did vote down Prop 19, after all.

          1. As far as I’m concerned the ones who couldn’t be bothered to show up at the polls were just as culpable.

  2. While the government has been fairly quiet about the reasons behind the raids…

    They don’t need to talk about it. Everyone who isn’t the government could easily come up with one of in about 5 milliseconds of thought.

    The DEA: Christ, what….

  3. The Feds’ timing couldn’t have been better because there was a school shooting happening across town. It was mighty kind of them to help out on some of the major problems plaguing Oakland. Yep, yessir…

    1. Can we stop trying to tie the shooting to the raid?  As if the DEA knew there was going to be a shooting.  What would have happened if cops showed up randomly at schools just in case there was to be a shooting?  Everyone would be criticizing that.  Im not for the raid (although I think people need to cut back on their weed intake a little), but to try and tie them together is lame. 

      1. What you’re not seeing is the big picture- that there are bigger problems in Oakland than pot.

        The feds made a show of power with their little raid, but they were upstaged by reality across town.

  4. I think it goes beyond trying to cripple Lee financially. By raiding the school and his home, they’ve also managed to secure all the information of the people he has trained.

  5. I’m sure Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly all did a happy dance and are giggling like school girls. …Also, they are pleased with what happened in Oaksterdam.

    1. Classy, dude. That’s a nice, weak-ass strawman you got there. 
      Actually, knowing those morons, they’d find a way to contort their BS tough-on-crime stance to object to this solely for the reason that Obama/Holder authorized these kinds of DEA actions. The real sad part here is that the Prez has NO excuse for continuing this heavy-handed crackdown on a bunch of harmless potheads. Oh, except for his apparent affinity for ignoring civil rights and state initiatives. Hi-ho.

    2.  This can actually be framed as a states’ rights issue.  The constitution only gives Congress the power to regulate interstate commerce–not intrastate.

  6. Legal marijuana is going to happen one day, maybe. But it certainly will not happen in a country whose narcotics agency is essentially a narc-raid corporation, to oversimplyfy the issue quite grossly.

    From my personal experience, the DEA is probably close to the most reviled ABC-agency in general (after the NSA, TSA and possibly IRS) and, after the ATF, the one least capable of appropriate measure of force in daily proceedings. Note the word appropriate. Storming a colombian cartel den with a SWAT team would be appropriate measure of force. Using that same SWAT team to batter down a home-grow operation in suburban San Diego is not.

    It doesn’t take a Harvard graduate to know that responding to every attempt at softening the drug policies with unmitigated force towards the individual and legislative inertia on the scale of our sun’s gravity well towards the legislation is not the way forward. Likewise it doesn’t take that same graduate to see that, despite what the DEA and all affiliated agencies down to the smallest neighborhood watch program claim, not all drugs are the same. One does not even have to summon the spectre of big pharma involvement from its crypt to make a case these days.

    I’ll stop here, because my words are just so many branches rubbing in the wind anyway, whatever point I could make here has already been made elsewhere, multiple times, by people far more capable and informed than me, and yet the DEA and everyone in its hazy circle of influence manage a trick that can only be learned in the upper echelons of capitalist bureaucracy: Covering your ears and holding out your hands at the same time.

      1.  It’s considered bad form (as well as intellectually dubious) to bring Hitler into anything other than arguments involving genocide or early-20th-century geopolitics.

        1.  Can’t we make an exception when the subject of discussion is the DEA? All analogies are imperfect, but we don’t want to leave too much stuff on the table.

  7. Money money money.  The War On [some] Drugs would lose a lot of funding. DEA would lose some funding.   Private prison companies would lose money.  Prison guards would lose jobs.  Police departments would lose a lot of Federal funding.  All those undercover drug teams and overtime pay.  Etc.  
    Plus it’s likely that large corporate interests (alcohol, tobacco, big pharma) both see legalization as competition (loss of revenue) and a potential revenue stream if they alone can control the sale of “legalized” pot and its derivatives.It’s all about a third party making money, not about doing what makes sense for the public.

  8. There is only one reason for this raid: It is an election year.  Obama is in a fight for his life, and wants to give no excuse to seem soft on potential flashpoints in a tight election year.  “The first black president is weak on drugs” – He’s increased raids on soft drugs over the Bush admin.  “The non-native president is weak on immigration” – He’s increased deportations over the Bush admin. etc., etc.  The list goes on.

    1. “A fight for his life”? More like a walk in the park. Obama could legalize marijuana tomorrow and issue an amnesty for any drug-possession convictions, and he’d still win. His opponents are… laughable at best.

  9. You don’t have to be a raging conspiracy theorist to understand that *several* multi-hundred billion dollar industries have reason to fear and fight legalized cannabis:

    Pharmaceutical industry 
    Beer & wine and other liquors industries
    Prison industry
    Forced drug treatment industry

    These industries spend millions of dollars lobbying to keep Federal drug laws as harsh as possible. The pharmaceutical industry, in particular, does NOT want competition from a safe, non-patentable plant that can treat literally hundreds of conditions and replace many of the most popular — and profitable — “medical” drugs.

    The War on Drugs is a crime against humanity and the attempt to destroy the medical cannabis industry is a war against the sick and suffering. Don’t be fooled.

    1. And it’s funny how, with but a single executive order, Obama could undermine the wishes of those immensely powerful industries.  What they want regarding government policy would be irrelevant if only there was a person of principle in the White House.

      1. I agree with what you say. My pot-fueled pronoia however, is telling me that he could be a shrewd pragmatist, and a would-be turncoat. He could just release Lee, and reverse his policies after re-election.

    2.  Don’t forget, the dispensaries and growers rallied against legalization in California. If it was legal, they and their grossly inflated prices would not exist.

  10. I was heartened to see today’s SFGate with this opinion piece:

    Oakland: Feds should target crime, not Oaksterdam


    As an Oakland resident, I am outraged that this is the type of Federal attention we get. Oakland needs real help, not this waste of money. It is gross negligence to waste money on raiding businesses when we have violent crime and desperate poverty that need our attention first. 

  11. On a marginally related note:  there was a shooting at Oikos University yesterday, an unaccredited church-front trade school with less than a hundred students.  This is Cannabis U.   I can see that this name is somewhat humorous, but didn’t there used to be a definition of ‘University’ that was a bit more stringent than ‘trade school’?

  12. MICK PALMER, FORMER AFP (Australian Federal Police) COMMISSIONER on the war on drugs: “My comment is that probably police are more effective now than they’ve ever been, becoming increasingly more sophisticated and skilled, but at the end of the day we don’t make much difference. Arguably we don’t make any.”

    ^This is from a story in yesterday’s news.

    Funny how when it comes to the war on drugs it’s always currently enlisted officers and their superiors (through self-interest) who continue to claim that there is some point to the bullshit they call work, while those being publicly vocal about how the war on drugs is an unwinnable farce are frequently retired officers. When are they gonna realise we don’t believe their shit anymore? I for one am gonna smoke til the cows come home. Since I live in a city that will likely be forever.

  13. c’mon guys,  it’s a heck of a lot easier to have a stormtrooper raid on a bunch of calm hippies selling pot.  It’s much harder to fight REAL crimes where DANGEROUS criminals may shoot back

    And?  I’m not even a smoker.   I’m just tired of the increasing police state our country has become, and I no longer believe in the presidents promises.

    1. and it’s easier to take down someone with little to no money than billionaire rip-off artists on Wall St.

    2.  Such a good point. Used to own a house in a part of town with the most corrupt police in the metro area.  They never took action in a situation that might put them at risk.  Burglar hiding in my back yard with his dog tied to the porch, and police wouldn’t even stick around until the guy showed up to retrieve his dog.  They could have nabbed him, matched his fingerprints to the ones on my back window and had a case, but they couldn’t be bothered.  If, on the other hand, you ran five mph over the speed limit, or didn’t use your seatbelt, well, just you look out buddy, because they would nail you for that.

  14. Ostracization 101:  First banish a group of people you don’t like to the sidelines by making rules or laws against their participation in mainstream society.  They will then develop their own unique cultural habits and associate with other fringe groups, becoming even less mainstream and dependent on underground illegal activity for sustenance.   Then point to them and say “look how fringy and strange that group is.  It’s a good thing we don’t allow them in our society because they don’t follow our rules and laws”.  Mission accomplished, repeat as necessary.

    I am not blind to the fact that pot distribution is associated with crimes that genuinely need to be cracked down on.  Just the other day an acquaintance related his story of tracking his stolen iDevice to a pot club.   But it’s clear that this activity is because of the fed’s nipping at their heels keeping them underground.

    1. I am not blind to the fact that pot distribution is associated with crimes that genuinely need to be cracked down on.  Just the other day an acquaintance related his story of tracking his stolen iDevice to a pot club.   But it’s clear that this activity is because of the fed’s nipping at their heels keeping them underground.

      That was the main reason the Netherlands went “soft on pot.” They figured people were going to smoke it anyway, and by going soft people could do it without interacting the the criminal element, who are demonstrably crappy people.

      Those policies haven’t been perfect (they actually have a log of petty crime in  Amsterdam), but when looked at comprehesively, they’ve worked a lot better than the punitive, “we’ll teach ’em a lesson” mindset ever has.

      Ditto with Portugal.

  15. My local Murdoch rag (Melbourne’s Herald Sun) is bleating about ‘surrender’ in response to a recent report by experts in various fields calling for decriminalisation of a number of drugs; something the conservatives somehow have no problem with wasting truckloads of public money on…

    The editorial in yesterday’s print issue shat me to tears with its blind idiocy and insane determination to persist with futility… so much so, I had to get this off my chest, even if it did contain far too many polysyllables to ever reach the eyes of a Hun reader. Might as well put it up here; perhaps it may inspire one or two folks to adopt a more aggressive, civil rights based angle…

    Here’s a thought for the law-and-order set: the fundamentally wrong-headed attitude behind our archaic drug laws provokes contempt for the law in general in a large proportion of adolescents. If you wish people to have respect for the law, is it too much to ask for legislators and opinion-makers to have respect for scientific evidence? Instead of, say, constantly rejecting the findings of experts?

    Consider a youngster who sees on the one hand, one of the most dangerous drugs available barely regarded by society as a ‘drug’, despite all the consequent mayhem, carnage and disease (including the real possibility of massive brain damage), and on the other hand, an incoherent and vicious response to something that is, even if you take the dimmest evidence-based view, relatively harmless.

    To authoritarians, it’s apparently unthinkable that such a person might simply shrug off the yoke of conformity, and either knee-jerk the other way, or start evaluating things for themselves… but the fact is, you can’t just pass laws willy-nilly and expect people to obey them when they’re unreasonable. People break the law, all the time. And they do it for lots of different reasons, including the fact that some laws just shouldn’t exist.

    Laws should be consistent. If you want to outlaw some drugs (how’s that going, by the way?), but keep allowing our kids to play with booze, then decriminalise weed, ecstasy and hallucinogens too, or prepare to be ignored like a hypocrite. What’s with the prejudice anyway, racism or something…? Only white man’s drugs allowed?

    I know – it’s culturalism. Counter-culturalism. Yet for decades since the advent of mass media, society’s been absorbing counter-cultures and become immensely richer for it; how about you lot finally quit trying to make second-class citizens of one of the most creative sectors of the population? How many such folks are pillars of the establishment these days? Even squares are hip to the groove, daddy-o.

    Stop brutally, expensively, callously trampling my rights to placate your ignorant fear. Stop pointlessly making criminals of people, and devote resources instead to actual problems, like the experts and folks at the coal-face keep imploring you.

    Oh yeah, they had one of those online polls going – 50-odd percent in favour of decriminalisation, despite their demographic and desperate spin : )

    1. tl;dr version: you must be a communist!!!!!

      Just kidding of course; it’s a nice essay (although I have no idea what a “coal-face” is).

  16. Meanwhile, alcohol.. the drug that kills and ruins countless lives… is legal.

    Why am I an asshole who doesn’t respect society?  Because of stupid shit like this.

  17. Edit: This was my reply to Ambiguity, which suddenly popped up as a final comment rather than a reply when I’d logged in, which I couldn’t do until I’d typed something in the box, because of this clunky system that wants to play the shell game with my posts.

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