Good morning cannabis patients. Hopefully you weren't planning on attending horticulture classes at Oaksterdam University today. The cannabis school in the heart of downtown Oakland is being raided by IRS and the DEA with support from US Marshals right now.
At this point, little is known about the motivations behind the raid. The Huffington Post reports that an IRS spokesperson could only say that the incursion was authorized by a federal search warrant. There are reports that Oaksterdam owner Richard Lee was also detained and then released early today.
A throng of protesters have gathered around the taped-off entrance to Oaksterdam, holding signs, heckling official vehicles for lacking valid license plates. Andrew Deangelo, brother of founder of Harborside Health Center Steve Deangelo, pleaded with law enforcement guarding the doors to Oaksterdam to refuse similar assignments "to arrest sick and suffering people" in the future. The federal agents have so far removed documents, safes, and cannabis plants from Oaksterdam.
Oaksterdam University was founded in 2007 by Richard Lee as a place where patients and caregivers could learn the necessary skills to grow quality cannabis. The syllabus now includes courses in cannabis politics, history, and the legal rights of patients. Lee was one of the primary forces behind the 2010 California ballot measure Proposition 19 that would have legalized marijuana for use across the board. One of the central figures in the cannabis community, this raid is a bold move in a creeping movement by the feds that is curtailing patient access of late.
A call this morning to Anne Campbell Washington, Quan's chief of staff, yielded little information regarding the city's response. "We don't have information on it yet, because it wasn't our operation," Washington said.
The Guardian will have a reporter on the scene shortly, so check back here and in this week's Herbwise print column for updates on the fate of the University.
UPDATE: The LA Times has reported that Richard Lee's house was also raided today.