Feds Raid Oaksterdam, California's Cannabis College

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Federal Agents raided Oaksterdam University, a for-profit institution that teaches marijuana growing techniques in Oakland, California and advocates for the medical marijuana movement. It's certainly not the first run-in between federal authorities and marijuana facilities that operate legally under state law but violate federal policy. But to understand why the clash is so potent, it's worth revisiting a 2009 piece in The Atlantic, in which Joshua Green graduates from the cannabis college, and explains the school's efforts to give the industry an air of legitimacy—something forcefully challenged by the government Monday:

A veteran pot activist named Richard Lee founded Oaksterdam in 2007 to serve this new and lucrative trade and add a veneer of respectability to an industry operating in a legal gray area ... State law requires no formal training to operate a dispensary, so an Oaksterdam degree is more showpiece than necessity.

My introductory class had consisted of two sessions. The first taught the legal and business aspects of running a dispensary and, because the faculty is active in the cannabusiness, emphasized such practical concerns as not getting robbed (keep your stash in a gun safe) and not getting busted (exude good corporate citizenship—incorporate, pay your taxes, join the Chamber of Commerce; [dispensary owner Don] Duncan won over suspicious neighbors by cleaning up all the dog poop on the block). 

Certainly worth a re-read today as sledgehammer wielding DEA agents clash with openly-smoking protesters in Oakland this afternoon.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.