Pubdate: Tue, 03 Apr 2012
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 2012 Associated Press


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Federal agents on Monday raided a medical 
marijuana training school in the San Francisco Bay area that is at 
the heart of California's marijuana legalization movement. National 
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The doors to Oaksterdam University in downtown Oakland were cordoned 
off by yellow tape and blocked by United States marshals. Agents from 
the Drug Enforcement Administration removed trash bags of unknown 
materials from the school to a waiting van.

Arlette Lee, a spokeswoman for the Internal Revenue Service, told 
reporters that agents were serving a federal search warrant but that 
said she could not otherwise comment on the purpose of the raid.

"What we are doing here today is under seal," Ms. Lee said.

About a dozen protesters gathered in front of the multistory 
building, which is adorned with a large mural that makes the school 
one of the neighborhood's most visible landmarks. Some of them smoked 
marijuana openly.

The demonstrators held signs demanding an end to federal crackdowns 
on medical marijuana.

Ryan Hooper, 26, of Oakland, wearing an Oaksterdam hat and 
sweatshirt, said he had finished taking courses at the school in February.

"This is not in the best interest of the city," Mr. Hooper said. "If 
they close the dispensaries, all of this stuff is going to go back 

Oaksterdam University was founded by Richard Lee, the main backer of 
the California ballot measure defeated in 2010 that would have 
legalized marijuana in the state for recreational use. The 
neighborhood has also had several medical marijuana dispensaries, 
including one founded by Mr. Lee.

Mr. Lee did not return a message seeking comment.

The city of Oakland has long allowed four medical marijuana 
dispensaries to operate under city ordinances and recently awarded 
permits that would allow four more to open.

At the same time, federal prosecutors across California have been 
working for months to shut down dispensaries by threatening to seize 
landlords' property if they did not evict marijuana retailers.
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