Image from Oaksterdam University
“Keep the faith.” Is what he always said when talking about the cannabis movement. I have to give praise to Richard Lee… The man, the myth, the legend. Richard Lee is a guy who doesn’t get talked about much anymore… Who is he? Why would you care who he is? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because he started the conversation. That’s why. It’s that simple. And without starting the conversation, it wouldn’t have happened.
Let’s rewind a little… Back in 2010 I took a trip out to Oakland California to attend classes at the country’s first premier Cannabis College, Oaksterdam University. I was part of their 53rd class. While going through my course load, I found myself learning from the greats, literally. I was learning Dispensary operations from the likes of the DeAngelo brothers and horticulture from the amazing Ed Rosenthal. One of the instructors was Richard Lee, he hosted lessons in horticulture, civics, and some of the law portions of study. In addition to being one of the instructors, he was one of the owners of the school, and he was one of the 4 originally licensed dispensaries in Oakland California. Needless to say, the man had a lot of knowledge to share.
During my attendance the school was promoting a political campaign for California Proposition 19, a measure to legalize Cannabis in the state. But what makes this even more interesting was that Lee didn’t think the bill would pass. “This is what will start the conversation” is what he told us. Man… He wasn’t kidding. Prop 19 received a lot of media coverage nationwide. It was talked about on all the major networks across the country. It became the shot heard around the Cannabis community, literally. In the end, Lee was right. It didn’t pass, but everyone was talking about it.
Within 2 years Washington state and Colorado passed legalization laws. Between 2010-2012 a lot of things began to change. More states began to implement decriminalization laws and medical Cannabis programs. But it would seem that the shot that was heard around the Cannabis community, was also heard by the DEA. In 2012, the DEA raided both the school and the dispensary owned by Lee. No arrests were made, it was an over-all snatch and grab. In addition, the feds forced Lee to relinquish his registered businesses.
But now it’s even legal in California… The effort went full circle and has resulted in other counties legalizing nationwide. Accredited Colleges are now offering courses on Cannabis. Tons of businesses and jobs have opened up in the areas where it’s allowed and the sky never fell. In fact, it just keeps getting bigger and more interesting. Prop 215 in 1996 might have been what kicked it off, it was the scream for legalization in 2010 that was heard around the world. That scream came out of Richard Lee and I’m grateful that my ears are still ringing from the feedback.
Keep the faith.