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Oaksterdam is a cultural district on the north end of downtown Oakland, California, where medical cannabis in a variety of competitively priced smokeable and edible preparations is available for purchase in multiple cafes, clubs, and patient dispensaries. Oaksterdam is located on the north end of downtown Oakland, between downtown proper, the Lakeside, and the financial district. It is roughly bordered by 14th Street on the southwest, Harrison Street on the southeast, 19th Street on the northeast, and Telegraph Avenue on the northwest. The name is a portmanteau of "Oakland" and "Amsterdam," the capital of the Netherlands, where marijuana is legal.
Since 2005, cannabis has been available to patients with patient identification and physician recommendation at a busy dispensary in the neighborhood, one of Oakland's four officially licensed dispensaries under the current municipal ordinance. According to Proposition 215, a statewide voter initiative which amended the California Health and Safety Code, marijuana used for medical purposes is legal to possess, cultivate and donate for. Dispensaries require a doctor's note in order to obtain medical cannabis, which is legal under California Law but illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The name Oaksterdam is a combination of Oakland and Amsterdam, the Dutch city that is famously tolerant towards cannabis use. The term was coined by the late Jim McClelland, an AIDS patient who was a founding member of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Club and the Berkeley Patients Group after prompting by Andrew Glazier, a fellow activist, that the neighborhood needed a name. The history of Oaksterdam started with Oakland Buyers Cooperative Distributing to Prop 215 patients with acts of courage mixed with legal wrangling they stayed open until the FEDS became an issue.After the federal authorities ordered the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative (OCBC) to shut down a few brave members like the late Jim McClelland and late Tim Sidwell of OCBC went around the corner and opened up the ZOO.The Zoo was a well stocked dispensary with deals that had clones as well as advice on how to cultivate.Soon after that a proliferation of clubs opened with colorful names like The Bulldog,Compassionate Caregivers,The Lemon Drop,Oakland Patients Group and 420 Cafe.This was the Wild Wild West Days of Medical cannabis.Proposition 215 was vague and Rogue DAs did what they felt was more politically rewarding and that wasn't always in the patients interest.Dan Lundgren went on a political warpath after Prop 215 was passed and San Francisco's safe source of medical cannabis was shut down when Dennis Peron was arrested.The Oakland City Council made a few proclamations then promptly made a few patients official medical cannabis officers like Jeff Jones and Ed Rosenthal as well as approve the distribution of medical cannabis as per Proposition 215.The Oakland Politicians were pro cannabis before Prop 215 and allowed a couple groups to distribute.The Federal authorities however have continued to harass even though the Attorney General Eric Holder has stated publicly that the prosecution of medical cannabis is the feds last priority. On April 2, 2012 the DEA raided Oaksterdam University and executed a smash and grab. No charges filed and no trial but the DEA goons took everything. Harborside is being threatened too as well as some SF dispensaries. Steve DeAngelo spoke out against the raids and the IRS threats and vowed to serve the patients and reminded us about the patients locked up in jail. The DEA is systematically trying to destroy the medical cannabis community. Melinda Haag the DEA prosecutor has been threatening the city sanctioned dispensaries with closure. The IRS has taken away the standard deduction claiming that the medical cannabis community is a criminal enterprise. Richard Lee announced he was no longer going to be the leader at Oaksterdam University due to the harassment by the DEA.
Location and character 
Oaksterdam is located on the north end of downtown Oakland, between downtown proper, the Lakeside and the Financial District. It is roughly bordered by 14th Street on the southwest, Harrison Street on the southeast, 19th Street on the northeast, and Telegraph Ave on the northwest. It is characterized by mixed-use office and residential buildings with unique historic architecture that is older than some of the more modern skyscrapers south of 14th Street, and an abundance of ground floor retail shop spaces, restaurants and cafes.
A Julia Morgan-designed building is located at the northwest corner of 15th and Webster Streets, which was the original location of the Oakland YWCA. The neighborhood also features the Cathedral Building, an ornate, historic Flatiron Building at Latham Square at the intersection of Broadway and Telegraph.
Educational institutions 
The district features at least two institutions of higher learning, Lincoln University at 15th and Franklin, a small business school catering mainly to international students, and Oaksterdam University on 19th Street, a business college which prepares students for medical cannabis work. Oaksterdam University was raided by the DEA on April 2, 2012 and they performed a smash and grab.
Richard Lee announced he was no longer going to be the leader of Oaksterdam University because of the harassment by the DEA.
Transportation infrastructure 
Mass transit 
The 19th Street BART metrorail station is located beneath Oaksterdam on Broadway between 17th and 20th Streets. The station has entrances on Broadway and on a pedestrian plaza that opens onto Telegraph Avenue. AC Transit also recently opened the Uptown regional transit center nearby on Thomas L. Berkley Way (20th Street), which features multiple bus shelters with seating, NextBus arrival prediction signs and Rapid Bus service.
Bicycle rental 
A bicycle rental service has opened in the neighborhood on 15th Street, serving one of the only bicycle rental stores in the area. The bike shop incorporates a glass-blowing school.
Pedicab service 
Recently a pedi-cab service (Oaksterkabs) was opened, staffed by a single cycle rickshaw. Now dubbed "The Cannabis Cruiser", the pedicab offers its services around the downtown area to students of Oaksterdam University, Oaksterdam employees and to pedestrians in general.
Neighborhood retail 
The district is home to a number of coffee shops, a tea shop and hydroponic supply store, cafes, restaurants open into the evenings, a gift shop, two musical instrument stores and specialty stores. These shops and services also are attractive to cannabis tourists and enjoy a superior central location next to the 19th Street BART station and AC Transit connections.
Medical cannabis dispensation 
Since legislative changes passed by the Oakland City Council in 2005, there is no longer a proliferation of cannabis dispensaries in the neighborhood as was the case for several years previously. Most of these dispensaries had the chance to obtain non-profit status; some chose to not become non-profit and were no longer permitted to dispense cannabis. Under current legislation, there are four officially permitted dispensaries in the City of Oakland. One of the four permits is held by a dispensary cafe in the neighborhood.
As of October 0f 2011 the DEA has declared war on medical cannabis again.
Many letters have been sent to the property owners of dispensaries threatening arrest and forfeiture of property if they do not cease and desist. On April 2 the DEA raided Oaksterdam University and performed a smash and grab. Without any convictions or charges the DEA is abusing the seizure laws.
The DEA and IRS are ganging up on Harborside.
Measure Z clubs 
Measure Z clubs are businesses that sell cannabis to people over the age of 18. One private club in Oaksterdam sells cannabis and food containing cannabis to adults who do not hold valid physician recommendations for medical marijuana, which are needed to obtain county-issued patient identification cards in California. One such club is named after Oakland's Measure Z, a city ballot initiative which makes the private sales, cultivation, and possession of cannabis the lowest police priority and mandates that the City of Oakland tax and regulate cannabis as soon as possible under state law.
See also 
Adjacent Oakland neighborhoods and attractions 
- Adams Point
- Downtown Oakland
- Jack London Square
- Lake Merritt
- Lakeside Apartments District
- Oakland City Center
- Old Oakland
- Uptown Oakland
- Oakland finds peace with its pot clubs
- California NORML. "Text of California Prop 215." http://www.canorml.org/prop/patientsguide.htm#prop
- Oaksterdam.com is Up
- MarijuanaLogues #1
- "Proposition 215". Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative. OCBC. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PETITIONER v. OAKLAND CANNABIS BUYERS' COOPERATIVE AND JEFFREY JONES". UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PETITIONER v. OAKLAND CANNABIS BUYERS' COOPERATIVE AND JEFFREY JONES. United States Department of Justice. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- "Oaksterdam University: Quality Training for the Cannabis Industry". Oaksterdam University. oaksterdamuniversity.com. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- admin (19). "Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire". OaksterdamRaid.com. OaksterdamRaid.com. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- David Burton (28). "Oakland’s 10-year-old ‘Measure Z’ Provides A Model for Marijuana Law Reform". The Weed Blog. Culture Magazine. Retrieved 27 May 2012.
- Oaksterdam.com Oaksterdam news, community calendar, history
- OaksterdamUniversity.com Official site of Oaksterdam University