An Interview with Oaksterdam’s Dr. Aseem Sappal about 4/20, Oaksterdam’s Future, and the Future of the Legal Marijuana Industry
Oaksterdam was started in November 2007. Since then it has been internationally recognized as a place people can learn about marijuana and the industry taking shape around it. The school, while generating acclaim has also been the subject of scrutiny. In 2012, the school was raided and it was reported shut down. However, the school is operating again and even expanding into cities like Denver, New York and Las Vegas. Dr. Aseem Sappal, the Director of Operations of Oaksterdam said,
Even though 4/20 is our national holiday, we are never closed.”
There has been a movement of sorts to decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana. During 2012, Oaksterdam was raided by federal agents from the United States Internal Revenue Service, Drug Enforcement Agency and Marshals Service. According to many news outlets, their computers, documents, safes were all taken away in addition to dozens of marijuana plants. Sappal says the raid was politically motivated,
We got raided by federal authorities because of our support for Proposition 19 in California.”
Prop 19 would have legalized marijuana for adult use. The first push for the proposition failed in 2010 and it was brought up again in 2012.
The feds knew we were going to push it and it has a strong chance of being enacted so we got raided” says Sappal.
The support for legalized marijuana continues to grow. Colorado, Washington D.C. and New York State have decriminalized or legalized marijuana. Ballot initiatives continue to be made regarding the issue. Even internationally, Jamaica recently decriminalized marijuana and Uruguay has legalized it. As for where Sappal sees the marijuana issue, he sees more progress. “I see the nation moving forward, in 2016 five states will have this issue on their ballot” says Sappal.
The general community has a lack of education on the issue. For instance, they don’t know the different ways to ingest marijuana. Marijuana has proven to be good for medical use. There was a Just Say No campaign which was brilliant, now we have a Just Say Yes campaign. In 10 years, I see all 50 states making it legal.”
Oaksterdam claims 20,000 students have graduated from their university and they are certified. The demand for an education in marijuana continues to grow. In New York, there was a Cannabis exhibition at the Jacob Javits Center, Oaksterdam representatives continue to travel around the country holding education seminars. There are plans to host seminars in Las Vegas and Washington D.C. in June. On June 12th to June 15th the horticulture classes will be offered in Las Vegas and on June 27-28th, the classic program will be offered in D.C.
In our classes we have students, next to CPAs, next to doctors and grandmothers…I was contacted by some people in Jamaica about teaching them to grow marijuana without pesticides. We might open our first international satellite campus in Jamaica.”
Meanwhile domestically, Sappal says, “It’s a matter of time, we have a tremendous amount of support from the Oakland Police Department and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, it’s good the nation is changing”.