2012-04-02 "Oaksterdam University gets a Monday morning federal raid" from "San Francisco Bay Guardian" newspaper
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.
America's First and Premier Cannabis College [http://www.oaksterdamuniversity.com]
2012-04-02 "DEA and IRS Raid Oaksterdam" by Don Duncan, California Director of "Americans for Safe Access"
Law enforcement agents believed to be from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are raiding the home and businesses of licensed medical cannabis provider and activist Richard Lee in Oakland. Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is calling on patients and advocates to go to Oaksterdam University in downtown Oakland to protest the raids and support the victims. Take signs, banners, bullhorns, etc. We need for law enforcement and the media to know that we will not stand for this injustice!
Go to 1600 Broadway (at 17th St.), Oakland, CA 94612 to protest right now.
Be sure to take note of what law enforcement agencies are on hand and if anyone is arrested inside the facility. ASA will send more information as soon as we have it. You may also wish to follow @ASADonDuncan on Twitter for updates.
photos by Oaklandish [http://www.facebook.com/oaklandish]
2012-04-02 "DEA and IRS Raid Oaksterdam University, Medical Marijuana Institution" by Jon Walker
This morning agents from both the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Internal Revenue Service raided Oaksterdam University, one of California’s most famous medical marijuana institutions. From NBC Bay Area [http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Oaksterdam-University-Raided-by-Feds-145765015.html]:
Oakland’s Oaksterdam University was taken over by federal officials Monday morning.
Officers wearing U.S. Marshals, IRS and DEA jackets swarmed the Oakland medical marijuana facility on Broadway before 8 a.m. Investigators put yellow crime tape around the entire building.
Just after 9 a.m. agents brought out trash bags of unknown materials to a waiting van.
The presence of the IRS in addition to the DEA at this raid should be concerning to people involved in medical marijuana. The IRS recently contended that federal law prevents medical marijuana businesses from qualifying for standard business tax deductions that all other companies take, such as rent and payroll.
Based on this ruling last year the IRS went after Harborside Health Center, another of California’s most prominent medical marijuana businesses, claiming it owed $2.5 million in back taxes. If the IRS starts aggressively enforcing this position, it could become financially impossible for medical marijuana businesses to operate; it means those currently in business could owe huge amounts in back taxes.
This raid likely represents yet the latest escalation in the Obama administration’s multi-agency war on medical marijuana [http://justsaynow.firedoglake.com/2011/10/10/obamas-multi-agency-war-on-medical-marijuana/]. Oaksterdam University was founded by Richard Lee, the main sponsor of the failed 2010 marijuana legalization ballot measure, Proposition 19. Richard Lee and Steve DeAngelo, the chief executive of Harborside, are probably two of the most high profile individuals in California’s medical marijuana community.
Update II. The LA Times also reports that authorities searched the home of Richard Lee in conjunction with this action [http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/04/richard-lee-home-raided.html].
Update I: The video below was taken shortly after the raids.
2012-04-02 "Feds raid home of Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee"
ederal agents raided the home of longtime pot-legalization advocate and marijuana trade school founder Richard Lee on Monday morning, according to authorities.
Lee, 49, is the founder of Oaksterdam University, which also was raided Monday by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Marshal's Service, using a search warrant. Authorities declined to provide details, saying the case was under seal.
DEA special agent Joycelyn Barnes confirmed that Lee’s one-bedroom apartment overlooking Lake Merritt was searched as part of the raid. Lee was detained for questioning and released, Barnes said.
Lee, who is wheelchair-bound from a severe spinal injury he suffered while working as a lighting technician for bands, has been a visible advocate for the legalization of marijuana and was a driving force behind Proposition 19 in 2010 that would have legalized some marijuana-related activities.
In his Oakland neighborhood, he is recognized and asked to pose for photos. He told a Times reporter in 2010 that he was prepared for the possibility of raids.
"Every year, I try to get busted, and I can't do it," he joked at the time, saying he had pot plants in his nursery labeled: "Juries cannot be punished for their verdicts."
After the raids Monday, Lee supporters gathered outside Oaksterdam University, where federal agents stood at the door behind yellow police tape.
Brett Bankson, 30, of Oakland, went to the scene with his dog to show support. A 10-year medical marijuana patient, Bankson recently underwent back surgery and said cannabis is helping him wean off prescription opiates.
"It's absolutely ridiculous," he said of the raids on Lee's businesses. "They're not seizing marijuana here. They're seizing assets so they can do more enforcement. This just shows that no matter how hard we fight, they're going to fight us."
Oakland city officials dealt with an initial proliferation of dispensaries in the district dubbed "Oaksterdam" through strict regulation that limited the facilities to four and captured increasing amounts of tax revenue for the strained municipal budget.
"They found a way to regulate that was a good compromise for everyone," Bankson said. "The whole local economy that has depended on this could collapse.
"Now that they're taking away legal avenues, people are going to pursue illegal avenues," he continued as the smell of cannabis wafted through the crowd. "They're just enhancing the black market."
2012-04-03 "Oaksterdam Raid: An act of intimidation" by Richard Lee
On Monday, April 2, my school -- Oaksterdam University in Oakland -- was raided by the DEA, IRS, and US Marshals. Oaksterdam provides training to the medical cannabis industry, and is fully compliant with state and local law.
President Obama promised at the beginning of his administration to respect state medical marijuana laws. He has broken this promise time and time again -- and the consequences have been devastating.
This was a senseless act of intimidation. But I've been an activist far too long to become intimidated -- and with the majority of Americans and common sense on our side, I know this is a fight we can win.
With our government trillions in debt, why is our government using taxpayer dollars to come after me, Oaksterdam, and the thousands of patients who need medical marijuana just to get through the day?
Tell President Obama and the DEA: Enough is enough. Keep your campaign promise, and stop the raids on the medical cannabis industry!
Thanks for your support, [signed] Richard Lee
2012-04-02 "Peace & Freedom and Green Parties always support medical marijuana" by Vote Your Conscience
After voting for the CIA agent millionaire Obama and pro-phony drug war Biden, and their fascist warmongering Democratic Party which includes anti-medical marijuana leaders such as Senator Dianne Feinstein, you cannot be surprised that this fascist government attacked medical marijuana. The drug wars, better known as the prison-drug profiteering pipeline, have escalated under this latest Hitler in the White House, and he does this in an election year with impunity.
DID YOU FINALLY LEARN YOUR LESSON? WHEN YOU VOTE FOR EVIL, YOU GET EVIL. YOU MUST ALWAYS VOTE YOUR CONSCIENCE.
The Democrats and Republicans are NOT VIABLE; THEY ARE FASCIST ORGANIZATIONS.
The Democrats sometimes say they are going to do something good when running for office, but once elected, they carry out the same capitalist agenda as the Republicans as they are paid to do so by the same capitalist class to maximize the profits of the capitalist class, the primary goal of capitalism. The Democrats only exist to keep the Reds and Greens out of office.
What we need is complete legalization of all drugs to get them off the streets as they will have no market value, and to end the prison pipeline. Marijuana certainly is medicine. Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party support legalization of drugs. Only Peace & Freedom Party and the Green Party support that position. Here is more information on these pro-drug legalization parties.
Peace and Freedom Party [http://www.peaceandfreedom.org/home/about-us/platform/full-platform]
[ ... ]
Freedom, Justice and Crime -
* We call for the defense and extension of the liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, including freedom of speech, press, assembly and association, and the right to keep and bear arms for individual and collective defense. The ultimate guarantee of those rights is the organized strength of the working class.
* Capitalism and poverty breed crime and repression. Working class people are the primary victims both of street crime and of police reaction to it. The bosses use laws against victimless activities, "legal" and illegal expansion of police powers, military and paramilitary occupation of poor and minority communities, and diversion of resources to police and jails, to keep workers intimidated and dependent. We demand: Stop state-sponsored spying on and violence against progressive organizations.
* Democratically-controlled police review boards with powers of subpoena and discipline.
* Abolish the death penalty.
* Repeal the Three Strikes law.
* Stop trials and imprisonment of juveniles as adults.
* Treatment of prisoners as human beings; rehabilitation, not vengeance.
* Decriminalize victimless activities including drug use and consensual sex. Legalize marijuana. End the "war on drugs," which is primarily directed against poor and working-class people.
* Stop unwarranted searches and seizures of persons and property. Restore constitutional rights.
* Prosecute crimes of the wealthy and powerful against workers and the environment.
* Freedom for all political prisoners.
Green Party [http://www.cagreens.org] [http://www.cagreens.org/platform/drugs]
[ ... ]
Government should exercise restraint when regulating its citizens' private lives. Basically, we should question a government's right to tell citizens what they may consume.
The "war on drugs" is actually a war on urban ghettos, supplier nations and civil liberties. That war has failed. Outlawing drugs has turned drug users into criminals and crowded our jails with them. Interdiction, foreign and domestic, has been ineffective in stemming the flow of drugs. The U.S. Government has used the drug war to justify foreign military intervention, while the CIA has been involved in the drug trade to finance its illegal activities. The ones who profit from the drug war are the sellers, organized crime, chemical corporations and banks that launder money.
The Green Party calls for a basic change in our drug policies:
* Shift our focus from interdiction and incarceration to addressing the social causes of drug use. Redirect the funds presently spent on the drug war to education, prevention and treatment.
* Recognize that drugs are not just a problem affecting minorities and the poor, but also white, upper class communities.
* End the subversion of due process of law under the guise of the "war on drugs."
* End all corporate tax deductions for cigarette and alcohol advertising.
* Give states a greater autonomy in choosing to criminalize, de-criminalize or legalize drugs without having to fear federal reprisals (such as taking highway funds from states like Oregon that wanted to legalize marijuana).
* Open a public dialogue to determine the most feasible plan to de-criminalize drugs
[ ... ]
H. Criminal Justice
1. Alternatives to Incarceration:
Encourage and support positive approaches to punishment that build hope, responsibility and a sense of belonging. Prisons should be the sentence of last resort, reserved for violent criminals. Those convicted of non-violent offenses should be handled by alternative, community-based programs including halfway houses, work-furlough, community service, electronic monitoring, restitution, and rehabilitation programs.
Treat substance abuse as a medical problem, not a criminal problem. Free all non-violent incarcerated prisoners of the drug war. Provide treatment to parolees and probationers who fail a drug test instead of re-incarceration.
[ ... ]
3. Criminal Justice Reform:
a. Abolish the death penalty.
b. Repeal "three strikes" laws. Restore judicial discretion in sentencing. Abolish mandatory sentencing.
c. End the "war on drugs." Support expanded drug counseling and treatment. 30. The Green Party recognizes that the “war on drugs” is an ill conceived program that has wasted billions of dollars misdirecting law enforcement resources away from apprehending and prosecuting violent criminals in the United States. We believe it is time for a new approach to the serious problem of drug abuse in our communities, and that the decades old “war on drugs” be ended as soon as possible. The Green Party calls for new drug policies that are practical, honest, community based, and multifaceted.
d. The Green Party supports amending the Controlled Substances Act to reflect that drug use, in itself, is not a crime, and that persons living in the United States arrested for using drugs should not be incarcerated with those who have committed victim oriented crimes.
e. The Green Party supports implementing a step by step program to decriminalize all drugs in the United States.
The Green Party supports the redirection of funds presently budgeted for the “war on drugs” toward research, education, prevention, and treatment.
The Green Party believes people who have been incarcerated for the use of marijuana, without any convictions for victim oriented crimes, who do not require treatment for abuse of hard drugs, should be given complete amnesty, and should be immediately released from confinement in federal and state prisons, and in county/city jails, without any further parole or probation; all felony charges related to convictions for marijuana possession should be stricken from persons record.
The Green Party believes a system should be set up to systematically transfer prisoners convicted of using drugs, other than marijuana, into rehabilitation facilities if such prisoners choose to receive help for their addiction, but only if they have not been convicted of committing any victim oriented crimes.
f. Legalize possession of cannabis/marijuana.
g. Establish and fund programs to strengthen self-help and community action through neighborhood centers that provide legal aid, alternative dispute-resolution practices, mediated restitution, community team policing, and access to local crisis/assault care shelters.
SO, CALL YOUR COUNTY REGISTRAR TODAY AND HAVE THEM SEND YOU THE FORM TO CHANGE YOUR REGISTRATION TO PEACE & FREEDOM OR GREEN.
For the list of registrars, see [http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_d.htm]
The registrar is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
You can also register online at: [http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote]
Accept the default to fill out the form online, print, sign and mail.
We have a California primary on June 5, 2012 and a general election on November 6, 2012.
THE SOONER YOU REGISTER EITHER PEACE & FREEDOM OR GREEN, THE BETTER.