Oaksterdam University raided as part of DEA criminal investigation

Riley Escobar

By Elizabeth Flock
Federal agents raided Oakland’s “pot university” Tuesday, as part of an ongoing investigation into the school, the Associated Press reports.

Joe Tremolada smokes marijuana as U.S. marshals raid Oaksterdam University on Monday. (Noah Berger - AP)

Local news reports suggested that the raid could be part of an ongoing federal crackdown on California’s highly profitable medical marijuana industry. (Medical marijuana was legalized in the state in 1996.)

But the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which participated in the raid, told BlogPost that the raid was part of a criminal investigation into Oaksterdam University.

As agents from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Marshals Service and DEA carried out the raid Tuesday, Oaksterdam students openly smoked marijuana, tried to block law enforcements vehicles, and greeted agents with shouts of “Shame!” and “DEA go away!” the Sacramento Bee reports.

Founded in November 2007 by medical marijuana activist Richard Lee, Oaksterdam is the most high-profile — if the not the only — university that teaches people how to grow marijuana.

Some call the school the “Harvard of Hemp” or “Princeton of Pot,” according to the Sacramento Bee.

The school’s stated mission is to “legitimize the business and work to change the law to make cannabis legal.” Lee explained his reasons for founding the school to the San Francisco Chronicle in 2008:

“I've seen in California that there are not enough good people who want to work in the cannabis industry in a professional way, who want to pay taxes and obey regulations and help improve their community.”
Lee said the university would operate legally. The DEA said Monday’s raid was part of a criminal investigation into activities on the campus.

San Francisco DEA spokeswoman Joycelyn Barnes told BlogPost the raid “is par for the course of what we do.”

Barnes said Oaksterdam could stay open, depending on how it operates going forward. She would not give specifics about what activities the school would need to change.

“Marijuana continues to be a federally controlled substance, despite the fact that California voted to make medical marijuana legal,” Barnes said. “Anything involved the criminal aspects of cultivating and distributing marijuana, we will investigate that.”

Oaksterdam University raided as part of DEA criminal investigation - BlogPost - The Washington Post


Six organizations looking to reform U.S. drug laws urged President Barack Obama to halt raids on medical marijuana providers following the raid on Oaksterdam University in California.

"Our coalition represents the views of tens of millions of Americans who believe the war on medical marijuana patients and providers you are fighting is misguided and counterproductive," Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, Marijuana Policy Project, National Cannabis Industry Association, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) wrote in a letter to the President.

Oaksterdamn University, which trained people to work in the booming medical marijuana industry, was raided by federal agents on Monday.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of medical marijuana. However, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration still classifies marijuana as a schedule I drug: the most restrictive classification reserved for dangerous drugs with no real medical value. Raw Story


Federal agents on Monday targeted a San Francisco Bay area medical marijuana training school started by a leading pot advocate who has been instrumental in pushing for ballot measures to legalize the drug.

The doors to Oaksterdam University in downtown Oakland were blocked by U.S. marshals and yellow tape following the early morning raid by agents with the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Huffington Post

The raid demonstrated the ongoing tension between the federal government and states municipalities willing to permit some marijuana use. Medical marijuana is legal in California, and Oakland offered a glimpse of what broader legalization might look like by passing laws to tax and regulate dispensaries. ibtimes.com

But the federal Controlled Substances Act holds that cannabis is a dangerous drug with no medical value, ranking it alongside substances like heroin and mescaline. Federal prosecutors have launched a crackdown on the cultivation and sale of marijuana, saying many businesses are more concerned with profit than with helping patients, and warning Oakland not to allow large-scale growing. ibtimes.com

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of American Adults shows that 47% now believe the country should legalize and tax marijuana in order to help solve the nation’s fiscal problems. Forty-two percent (42%) disagree, while 10% are undecided. The survey of 1,000 Adults nationwide was conducted on March 24-25, 2012 by Rasmussen Reports. rasmussenreports.com
PressTV - Marijuana advocates blast Obama over Oaksterdam University raid