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Federal agents serve warrants at Oakland medical cannabis school

April 2, 2012 | 10:09 am

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Federal agents descended early Monday on Oaksterdam University — California's first cannabis industry training school — securing the downtown Oakland facility as they served search warrants.

A spokeswoman with the Internal Revenue Service said the raid is part of a joint investigation with the Drug Enforcement Agency but she declined to elaborate.

"It's an ongoing investigation and everything is under seal, so we're not able to comment," she said.

PHOTOS: Feds raid medical cannabis school in Oakland

Oakland in many ways has served as the cradle of California's medical cannabis movement and Oaksterdam University owner Richard Lee has been at the forefront. He runs a school, a plant nursery and a dispensary, and spearheaded California's recent unsuccessful ballot initiative to legalize marijuana.

The raid comes as federal officials are stepping up a crackdown on medical cannabis dispensaries and the landlords who provide them space in which to operate.

Despite the 1996 California law that legalized marijuana for medicinal use, the feds have maintained that the dispensaries still violate federal law. They have focused on large dispensaries and others that they assert are too close to parks or schools.

Still, city officials here have expressed continued support for well-regulated dispensaries. Just three weeks ago, Oakland city officials issued preliminary approvals for four new medical marijuana dispensaries, which would bring the total to eight.


Raid of medical marijuana college draws protesters

Feds raid home of Oaksterdam University's Richard Lee

'Master growers' cultivating a higher grade of marijuana

— Lee Romney in Oakland

Photo: Oaksterdam University founder Richard Lee teaches one of many classes last May in Oakland on cultivation, history and laws for medical marijuana. Credit: Peter DaSilva / For the Los Angeles Times.