Oaksterdam is both a dispensary for medical marijuana and a school for cannabis entrepreneurs, offering classes on every aspect of this burgeoning industry. Even the name (combining Oakland and Amsterdam, where marijuana is legal) is a wink to its underlying agenda.
Advocates on both sides of the issue acknowledge that the medical use of marijuana is sometimes a cover for recreational use. Patients do not need a prescription for marijuana, only a "recommendation" and a quick search on the internet will turn up dozens physicians selling those recommendations to treat a wide range of symptoms.
Last Monday, agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency raided both the school and the apartment of its founder, 49-year-old Richard Lee, suggesting the feds may be planning to bring a case against Lee on federal tax charges.
But while marijuana growers and police in 16 states must navigate a strange world where federal and state laws contradict each other, the marijuana growers in one California county now have a clear understanding of what's allowed: you can grow marijuana in your bedroom, but not your back yard.