Federal agents surround Oaksterdam during the raid on April 2, 2012. Photo by Ryan Phillips.

One year ago, federal agents raided Oaksterdam University, a move that sent ripples throughout Oakland’s well-established cannabis industry and raised questions about the complex and often conflicting web of state and federal regulations surrounding medical marijuana use and patient rights. In this four-part series, Oakland North will examine what’s changed since last year’s raid, who was affected the most, and what may lie in store for medical marijuana use here in Oakland.

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Oakland’s dispensary ordinance, which has been on the books since 2004, is lauded by city officials—a staff report from the City Administrator’s Office published in July, 2011, calls it “a role model for the nation”—and is generally well-respected among local dispensary owners who consider it fair to them and the city. It requires that dispensary operators follow certain rules: sharing annual financial audits and personnel records with the city, making sure there’s proper security and safe access for patients, and making sure clients aren’t a nuisance to the neighborhood.
But there could be major changes brewing for how Oakland’s dispensaries are regulated.

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Oaksterdam University supporters celebrated 4/20—the calendar date that matches a code word often associated with pot smoking—with a march in Oakland protesting the recent federal raid of Oaksterdam’s facilities and demanding the federal legalization of medical marijuana. At 11 am, supporters gathered at the Federal Building on Clay Street in downtown Oakland. Starting off as…

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After a federal raid in early April on Oaksterdam University, an education center located in downtown Oakland that trains students to work in the marijuana industry, founder Richard Lee has decided to step down as head of the institution. His successor will be former executive chancellor Dale Sky Jones, which will officially be announced on Wednesday morning.

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Medical marijuana dispensaries often strive to keep a low profile, but this has been even more the case after federal agents raided Oaksterdam University and the home of founder Richard Lee on Monday. Half a dozen East Bay dispensaries responded with “no comment” when asked about how their organization was reacting to the raid, and others ignored voicemails. To date, there are no known closures of dispensaries in the East Bay as a reaction to Monday’s raid, and for many dispensaries, such as Harborside Health Center and the Berkeley Patient’s Care Collective, it’s business as usual.

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Oaksterdam University, a center that offers training for workers in the marijuana industry, and several of the organization’s related buildings were raided Monday morning by federal agents. According to Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam University’s executive chancellor, federal agents raided five Oaksterdam-related locations around 8 am, including the home of founder Richard Lee and the organization’s…

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