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Legal Pot in California in 2010? "Oaksterdam" Provides the Model

Pot entrepreneur Richard Lee envisions a professional marijuana industry much like the one that exists in Amsterdam.

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DH: The University -- how does it fit in? What are you teaching people?

RL: The motto is quality trading for the cannabis industry, and we’re teaching people how to do it right. What we see is a lot of people who want to help get it legal, or want to get a job, or start a cannabis dispensary, but they don’t know how to do it. And when they do it wrong, they make the industry look bad. We are trying to encourage more good actors and less bad by training them on the politics, legal issues ... that’s a big part of our curriculum. We really encourage people to be involved in the politics. And there are general classes we teach on the actual nut-bolts of the business or the horticulture: growing cannabis, cooking, hash making, bud tending, management, starting a business, incorporating.….you can go to our website too in order to look up all the classes.

DH: I always ask this kind of question at the end of an interview: You’ve gotten some really good media; phenomenal media. Is there something that no one ever asks you? Something that you’d want to get out? A message? A piece of information?

RL: Yeah. How about the conflict of interest that the media has advertising booze. Think about it -- If Coca Cola was legal and advertised on TV, and Pepsi was illegal, do you think the media might talk bad about Pepsi and talk good about Coke? If they were buttering that side of the bread.. I’m pressing here (ha ha) …I can come up with a better analogy.

But yeah, because I’m a pr/advertising major; that’s my history and my background, so that’s the thing I’ve always seen.

It’s like you watch TV and you see a beer commercial, then you see a Partnership for Drug Free anti-cannabis commercial, and you’re like, “What gives with this? And that’s the thing: it’s tough for the media to cover the media, right? Unless you’re John Stewart making fun of the cable news.

DH: One last question about the Obama policy and the Attorney General. There still seems to be evidence of the FEDS coming in and busting some targeted clubs. Is that still happening?

RL: Well, they raided one in San Francisco and stole all of their plants, but they didn’t arrest anybody, and they haven’t really been arresting anybody in a while. Generally they seem to be resigned to just going in and stealing a bunch of stuff and harassing people by being as mean as they can without actually prosecuting. But it’s really sad for the people who are still being prosecuted that were busted back during the Bush days. You know about the Lynch case --  where he is getting a year in jail for following the law. The other heavy case is Scarmazzo & Montes, who got 20 years under the RICO -- continuing criminal enterprise. I think legalization is the only way to get those guys out. The US Attorney said we’re not going to revisit. Obama is only going to do it if we federally legalize.

DH: Those guys made a fortune and spent it on fancy cars and stuff -- that was part of the problem in making millions of bucks.

RL: Yeah, exactly. They spent it on toys instead of putting it back into politics.

And they put a video on the Internet which had them singing, “Fuck the DEA”, and showing them with a bunch of cash. They did everything wrong. Don’t get me wrong -- but I would still say they only deserve a year or two in jail; not 20 years. Maybe a couple of months to teach them a lesson. Take away their money; fine them, you know? Whatever. But 20 years? C’mon people … CCI is the worst you can get -- a mandatory sentence. it’s like the mafia statute; and they’re (Scarmazzo & Montes) the only ones to have gotten hit with that.

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