Oaksterdam Raid Fuels Debate on Legalization of Marijuana

Federal agents raided a California university Tuesday, which was built to help legitimize the cannabis industry.

Oaksterdam University was founded by Richard Lee, an advocate for the legalization of marijuana, and places a focus on the entire cannabis trade. Since the doors to the university first opened in 2007, three additional universities have been opened in Los Angeles, Sebastopol, and Michigan. While the school teaches practices regarding marijuana, it does not dispense the drug.

Officials did not reveal the reason behind the raid although it was reported that the federal agents were carrying out a search warrant. The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration conducted the raid.

Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam's executive chancellor, considered the raid an attack on the reform movement. He reported that Lee's home had also been raided and that Lee was detained momentarily although charges were not pressed.

"Clearly, they're trying to knock down one of the leaders in the cannabis reform movement," Jones said.

The university reached out to students through its Facebook page, suggesting that the federal attention placed on the university was misguided.

"Because for all the shootings and murders and break-ins and violence occurring on the streets of Oakland every day... it is counterintuitive to use three federal law enforcement agencies to close a marijuana school and dispensary while ignoring illegal street drug operations in Oakland that continue to thrive, causing more violence," the university stated.

Others suggested that the attack reveals the states disapproval of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"Oakland has one of the most highly regulated systems for distributing medical marijuana in the state," Stephen Gutwillig, California's director for the Drug Policy Alliance, told the Huffington Post. "We think this is a campaign by the U.S. attorneys not just to limit but to kill access to medical marijuana in California."

Regardless of state regulations, the university insisted upon its support from the city. "Oakland is at the forefront of the national debate over medical marijuana, and the City Council emphatically supports the policy."