Richard Lee, the founder of a Northern California medical marijuana training school, Oaksterdam University, said he was giving up the business after a federal raid bankrupted his organization.
Lee has been a major proponent of legalizing marijuana and has given over $1.5 million to the cause becoming the lead financial backer of a 2010 initiative to legalize the drug in California, reported the Associated Press.
I am now in this legal situation, so it's better for me to step aside, Lee said.
On Monday, agents from the federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration, raided Oaksterdam University, Lee's home and a medical marijuana distribution facility, reported the AP. Federal authorities have not disclosed the reason for raiding the establishments.
They confiscated marijuana, computers and Lee's business files. Lee said it was difficult for him to continue his operations without the confiscated materials.
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It was something we've always feared, but we've always known it's a part of the politics of this issue, Lee said.
Oaksterdam University was a school founded by Lee in order to promote training for medical marijuana providers. Classes ranged from horticulture to business strategies to legal lessons. The university does not distribute marijuana.
America's first cannabis college was founded in 2007 to provide students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry, said the university on its website. Our faculty is comprised of the most recognized names in the California cannabis legalization movement. Since opening its doors in November of 2007, thousands of students have taken classes with the hope of entering the budding cannabis job field.
Lee said agents came to his home on Monday morning showing him search warrants, but not telling him exactly what they were looking to confiscate. Lee was not interrogated by special agents, but was detained while they conducted the raids. He was not arrested, either.
A spokesman for the IRS said the raid was part of an ongoing investigation, reported Sacto 911.
The decision to step down from running Oaksterdam University was not part of a deal with federal authorities, said Lee.
We don't know if it will make any difference at all to them, he said.
However, San Francisco DEA spokeswoman Joycelyn Barnes said that Oaksterdam could remain open, depending upon how it operates in the future, without giving specifics about what needs to change.
Marijuana continues to be a federally controlled substance, despite the fact that California voted to make medical marijuana legal, Barnes said, according to the Washington Post. Anything involved the criminal aspects of cultivating and distributing marijuana, we will investigate that.