Pot Raid Rattles Top Cannabis Crusader
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Pot Raid Rattles Top Cannabis Crusader
Posted by CN Staff on April 06, 2012 at 14:54:52 PT
By Daniel B. Wood, Staff Writer
Source: Christian Science Monitor
Sherman Oaks, Calif. -- Richard Lee, one of the highest profile marijuana activists in America, has announced he plans to give up ownership of his marijuana businesses in Oakland, Calif.The man who opened Oaksterdam University, the nation’s first college to teach students about the cannabis industry, and who bankrolled a failed ballot initiative to legalize the adult use of marijuana, says a federal raid this week has convinced him it’s time to step aside. The raid seized his assets, plants, bank accounts, records, and computers.
His decision marks an important moment for the medical-marijuana industry. While Mr. Lee says he will continue to be an outspoken advocate of marijuana, his step back threatens to create a void in the leadership of the movement. Moreover, the federal raid that hit his operations Monday is a sign that the Drug Enforcement Administration is ramping up its crackdown on California's medical-marijuana dispensaries. “This is a clear statement to California that the DEA is becoming more aggressive in this area, despite California’s Compassionate Use Act" – the state's first-in-the-nation ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana in 1996, says Joan Smyth of Kaufman Dolowich Voluck & Gonzo, a national law firm, via e-mail. In the past, the DEA has assisted local authorities in shutting down individual dispensaries based on zoning laws. But in Oakland, where the medical-marijuana zoning laws "are virtually nonexistent, and there have not been local efforts to shut the dispensaries down," Ms. Smyth says, the DEA is now taking the lead. "The raid on Oaksterdam was interesting as it took the DEA’s crackdown on California’s medical-marijuana business to a new level,” she says.Lee, a former rock-band roadie, says he is not abandoning the cause. His Oaksterdam University, which has graduated about 4,000 students since 2007, remains open, as does his dispensary. But Lee says he will transfer the business to new operators and shut down his own nursery.“It’s time for others to take over,” he told the Associated Press.Some observers agree.“Sometimes the leaders of movements must step aside to ensure they continue to last beyond their own lifetimes. That is the case of Richard Lee," says Sam Singer, who runs a public relations firm in the Bay Area and lives on the border between Oakland and Berkeley. "He is smart to step aside, focus on his own legal issues, and let new leadership come to the forefront.”Still many acknowledge the role Lee played in advancing the medical-marijuana movement. Standing outside the Med’s Merchant marijuana dispensary in the Los Angeles suburb of Sherman Oaks, where she goes for marijuana to ease chronic back pain, Stephanie Menlo says: “He did for marijuana legalization and acceptance what any good pioneer does: carve out the way in a society that is not yet ready to embrace a good thing."Marijuana advocates say he helped changed the national conversation on marijuana. “Richard was changing the way the public think about cannabis. That is why the Obama administration targeted him … and is trying to silence him,” says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, via e-mail. “Richard Lee’s activism – opening the nation's first brick-and-mortar cannabis college, bankrolling Proposition 19, which nearly succeeded in legalizing the adult use of marijuana in California, and revitalizing downtown Oakland – did more than just sway public opinion, it changed the culture,” Activists say the cause will continue. “The movement to end the government's war on marijuana users will continue unabated, in California and across the nation, until sensible policies are in place,” says Morgan Fox, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington, via e-mail. “The massive public show of support that Richard Lee and the medical-marijuana community have received, both from regular citizens and lawmakers alike in light of these federal attacks is a testament to this reality. "But outside the Sherman Oaks Medical Marijuana Relief Clinic, Todd Barrett sees a different legacy."These guys who have tried to legitimize drug use, though well intentioned, have done a bad thing," he says. "I’m glad to see him go.”Source: Christian Science Monitor (US)Author: Daniel B. Wood, Staff Writer Published: April 6, 2012Copyright: 2012 The Christian Science Publishing SocietyContact: letters csmonitor.comWebsite: URL: Medical Marijuana Archives 
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Comment #6 posted by Richard Elvers on April 11, 2012 at 08:44:07 PT:
tod what ever your name todd tod is better go back to the rock you came from!!
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Comment #5 posted by Richard Zuckerman on April 07, 2012 at 20:12:06 PT:
NORML Stash host Russ Belville says legalize now!
NORML Stash radio show host Russ Belville says the best way to preserve medical Marijuana is to legalize Marijuana. I'm planning on moving to Colorado for the Initiative, which would legalize WITHOUT the expensive government regulation and taxation. Oregon has a legalization Initiative on their election ballot. Michigan has a Marijuana legalization ballot issue. Washington apparently has a few legalization Initiatives, but with loopholes. California apparently is unable to obtain the requisite number of signatures for their Marijuana legalization Initiatives this year. I'm planning on voting for Ron Paul, also. I've mailed letters to over 30 people for support of N.J. Assemblywoman Connie Wagner's Assembly Bill 2415 for Hemp license and Assembly Resolution 45 which calls upon U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress to pass Industrial Hemp Farming Act legislation. I'm telling people about these Hemp Bills, too. 
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on April 07, 2012 at 13:05:21 PT
Barret obviously doesn't know a bad thing
when he sees it.He thinks trying to keep people from being murdered or imprisoned over a plant is a "bad thing"? And he doesn't recognize that murdering and imprisoning over the same plant is, in fact, a very, very "bad thing"?Mr. T's signature quote comes to mind.
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on April 07, 2012 at 09:12:48 PT
This may be he: Elementary Ed. - Protect Children
ripit - I thought the same thing when I read this article.{ CTA‐ESP ISSUES ADVISORY COMMITTEE (2009‐2010)[ CTA - California Teachers Association - Education Support Professionals (ESP) ]Todd Barrett (CTA‐ESP)Ignacio Garcia (CTA‐ESP)}CTA Board of Directors Report.
Bonnie Shatun District I.
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Comment #2 posted by ripit on April 07, 2012 at 08:31:42 PT
just who is todd barret?
somebody off the street?just passing by?they needed a negative view point for the story?
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Comment #1 posted by ekim on April 06, 2012 at 20:12:03 PT
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