By Jack Rikess
|Oaksterdam founder Richard Lee is fully separating himself from the school and his other cannabis-affiliated businesses|
Toke of the Town
Northern California Correspondent
Two weeks and a few days after the Federal Government raided Richard Lee’s world in Oakland, showing the Cannabis World who’s boss, Oaksterdam is back.
At a mid-morning press conference held in the last remaining quarters left to the University, Richard Lee officially stepped down as the school’s dean to pursue drug policy reform, on a national level, full-time. Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam’s executive chancellor, will continue the University’s commitment of quality training for the cannabis industry, as per Richard’s mission statement. Â
The press conference included representatives of the City of Oakland, Labor officials, and other local business owners from the area, who saluted Richard Lee and Oaksterdam for revitalizing the Broadway district and attracting new businesses for the past five years. Lee, quiet and only fielding a few questions from the press directly, promises he will still be a presence at Oaksterdam, but feels that continuing as president could draw further harassment to the school. He is fully separating himself from the school and his other cannabis-affiliated businesses which could possibly keep him under the scrutiny of the Fed’s radar.Â
|Dale Sky Jones|
|Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam University: “We need to stop this outrageous attack on safe access for the medical cannabis industry”|
Ms. Jones, while optimistic and upbeat, made it overwhelmingly clear what a devastating hit Oaksterdam took from that April 2nd morning raid by the DEA, Department of Justice and other federal agents. “The feds seized all of our computers, curriculum, files and records, which we desperately need in order to operate the school. We need to stop this outrageous attack on safe access for the medical cannabis industry and that starts with supporting and protecting education and our First Amendment freedom of speech and assembly as citizens,” Ms. Jones said from the podium.
The feds virtually left the university with only a few chairs and desks.Â
Dan Rush, Director of United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Medical and Hemp Division said, “We are very disappointed in this misguided enforcement action by the federal government. Almost 100 of our members, my sisters and brothers, lost their jobs and benefits as a consequence of this raid.”
The very supportive Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, who stood in solidarity with Oaksterdam during the raid earlier in the month, sent a representative who brought up this point: Â If the Feds have this kind of time and resources to allocate to an attack on Oaksterdam, why aren’t they going after gun violence, Oakland’s number one problem. Â “Where’s the money and the police to go after illegal guns and the dealers who sell them?”
It is very apparent that Oaksterdam and Dale Sky Jones need the help and assistance of the cannabis community if they are to succeed and make it. Â “We are trying to fulfill our promise to the many students who already enrolled; however, with everything taken, we need people to take action,” Ms. Jones pleaded.Â
Right now, the teachers and administrators who are working there are doing it pro bono. The once vast four-story university is now a one-room school house, allocated to the room where the press conference was held. They need computers, school supplies, and of course, money.Â
Also, Richard Lee and the leaders of the press conference are asking for April 20th to be a day of action. Write or call your congressperson and let them know how you feel.Â
Call the Department of Justice and let them know what that these raids are a waste of taxpayer’s money. They ask that you remind whoever answers the phone that the voters have already spoken. They have voted for Medical Marijuana, so why the raids on legitimate dispensaries?
And when they say it is because of the kids. You tell them that any kid can get drugs from the Black Markets, anytime he or she wants. At a dispensary, they need to show an I.D. and have to be of age. So, it’s not about the kids.
After a month of really bad news, this press conference was more upbeat and optimistic than the rallies of late.Â
Richard Lee was a target to the Feds. Richard Lee hopes that if he removes himself from the school it will have a chance to thrive. Â In addition to the money he’s put out and the name recognition he’s given to the movement, Richard should be applauded for his magnanimous action to remove himself from the spotlight so his school has an opportunity to succeed.Â
One of the easiest and most fruitful ways of helping Oaksterdam is to enroll. They need a healthy student body to keep going and it doesn’t hurt to have that Oaksterdam certification on your wall if you’re looking for a position in the cannabis industry.
Also, the Oaksterdam Museum is up and rolling, your continued patronage is always welcomed.
BTW, on the White House’s website, there is a place where one can vote for, “Citizen of the Year.” Wouldn’t be cool if Richard Lee won Citizen of the Year? That would be one way we could show our appreciation and let the bastards know we’re still here.
|Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco|
Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found atÂ jackrikess.com.
Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.
His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.
He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.