Profiles in Cannabis: Richard Lee

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator September 12, 2009

    Richard LeeNORML is proud to confirm that Richard Lee, the self-professed ‘Mayor of Oaksterdam’ will be speaking at the 2009 NORML National Conference in San Francisco, CA.

    Richard Lee has been working to end cannabis prohibition for nearly two decades. In 1992 he co-founded Legal Marijuana – The Hemp Store in Houston, Texas, one of the first hemp products retail outlets in the United States. In 1997, Richard relocated to Oakland, California, where he co-founded the Hemp Research Company, which supplied medical cannabis to the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Club, and promoted efficient and environmentally friendly methods of cannabis horticulture. Two years later he opened the Bulldog Coffeeshop, the second retail cannabis outlet in "Oaksterdam." In 2003, Richard founded the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance, the political action committee that passed Oakland’s Measure Z — making private sales, cultivation, and possession of cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority and mandating that Oakland tax and regulate cannabis as soon as possible under state law. More recently, he founded the first-ever cannabis college in the United States, Oaksterdam University, which seeks to provide students with the highest quality training for the cannabis industry.

    Richard was one of the driving forces behind the recent passage of Oakland’s Measure F, which imposes the nation’s first ever business tax on retail marijuana sales, and is presently spearheading The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, which seeks to allow California adults 21 years of age and older to possess and consume, cultivate, and possess small amounts of cannabis. Richard will be discussing and debating various aspects of both of these reform endeavors, and what they mean for the cannabis community, at NORML’s 2009 conference.

    Richard Lee says, "Yes we cannabis" and so should you! Meet the Mayor of
    Oaksterdam and hundreds of other likeminded people at NORML’s 38th annual conference, taking place September 24-26 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in downtown San Francisco. For registration information, please visit: http://www.norml.org/conference.

    More about Richard Lee:

    San Francisco Examiner: Pro-Pot Activists Take Step Toward Putting Legalization On Ballot

    Sacramento Bee: Oakland pot tax adds fuel to legalization fire

    CNBC’s Marijuana Inc profiles Oaksterdam University

    19 responses to “Profiles in Cannabis: Richard Lee”

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    2. David says:

      Richard Lee is my personal hero. To think that one man has made more progress than an entire nation thus far really says something. It brings a teary-eyed smile to my face. I can see his positive, knowledgeable and productive influence spreading across our great nation for years to come, until our draconian laws are reformed once and for all. 20, 30, 40 years from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if we find ourselves saying it all started in a little place called Oaksterdam.

    3. General-Jake says:

      Holy crap look at this guy. All the stuff he founded and work hes done for the pot nation! My God hes like a
      Hemperor! Peacful legalization has a better chance in this world with this guy… very impressive. Thank you Mr. Lee.

    4. General-Jake says:

      Holy crap look at this guy. All the stuff he founded and work hes done for the pot nation! My God hes like a
      Hemp Knight! Peacful legalization has a better chance in this world with this guy… very impressive. Thank you Mr. Lee.

    5. Jed The head says:

      WOW the line up of speakers at this years conference is an all star cast. I’m so glad I’m going. I think this is a turning point in the movement to lift prohibition. Way to go NORML!!!

    6. Nandi says:

      Okay this man has been fighting for two decades and now it is time for us to start fighting! We can no longer sit back and do more talking than acting! Has everyone sent in their five dollars to NORML this month? five dollars a month from all of us each month will give NORML thousands of dollars which it appears the power of money is the only thing politicians are hearing these days because it appears that they do not give a darn about our vote which is going to be a very big no huge mistake for our time has come and we are standing long and strong saying to politicians they will no longer take NORML nor her children as jokes again! Look to see alot of leadership coming out of this conference and look at yourselves and ask what can I do? there is much work to be done, the 2010 elections are aroung the corner, but even the most simple of things such as sending in your five dollars a month and remember you can send money orders if you want/need privacy and notifying NORML members and bloggers about any crooked politician we need to shine our light on and shine a light we will! WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF NORML AND WE ARE STRONG AND WE ARE A FORCE THAT THE WORLD AND THE POLITICIANS WILL BE AMAZED OVER! and this conference is just the beginning of NORML and her childrens rise to power! LETS NOT TALK ABOUT IT LETS BE ABOUT IT!

    7. Mikey says:

      It should not be understated how much Richard Lee has done for the cannabis community, BUT, when it comes to the legalization initiative he is pushing, I have to say the California Cannabis Initiative seems to be a far better bill. A break down of the 2 bills can be found here:


      “In summary THC 2010 – The Tax, Regulate, and Control Cannabis Act of 2010 gives amnesty for marijuana prisoners in California, decriminalizes hemp, legalizes marijuana, and exempts medical marijuana patients from having to pay tax on medicine. It protects children who are medical marijuana patients. It prohibits discrimination based on marijuana use. It is short, sweet, and clear as a bell.”

      “ROT 2010 – The Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 is a treacherous byzantine maze of obfuscation. Prohibiting discrimination never occurred to the authors. Neither did protecting medical marijuana patients. They thought about decriminalizing hemp, but didn’t do it. The stated purpose is to force the taxation of cannabis, medicine or not, “without limitation” and prohibit sales in cities and counties that have the moral cojones not to tax medicine. It penalizes possession of more than one ounce for personal use and requires cities and counties to enact ordinances to raise the limits. It could be used to prosecute medical patients having more than one ounce and to prevent the medicinal use of marijuana by children. It increases some penalties for sales to anyone under 21. It is a Trojan Horse. It is the new improved Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.”

      It’s of extreme importance that California puts forth a workable legalization policy. A bad bill in California could ruin it for the rest of the country.


    8. Lea says:

      Thank you Richard for all you do. Superb soul you are.

    9. Nixon says:

      #7 Mikey, You are absolutly, 100% correct my friend. With all due respect to Mr. Lee and what he has accomplished, his initiative proposal(initiative 09-0024) is complete shit. It makes no mention of exempting current medical marijuana laws which could set up a legal battle, the legislature can make amendments without voter approval, and it limits possession to one ounce.


      The one that is currently in circulation (09-0022)The Tax, Regulate and Control Cannabis Act of 2009 is by far the better choice. It requires voter approval before any amendments can be made, exempts current medical marijuana laws (will not effect the Campassionate Use Act of 1996),and does not place restrictions on amounts of possession.

      Check out the link for more info about the initiatives http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_j.htm.

      NORML needs to do a little homework and push for the RIGHT initiative. Richard Lee is a nice guy. Nice guys finish last. The wrong bill can screw up everything we have been working for. Let’s get it right!

    10. Nixon says:

      ohh and to translate:

      (THC 2010) is (09-0022). 09-0022 is the initiative number California has assigned. The one we want to pass. The one that has been approved by California’s secretary of state for signature gathering. it;s not referenced as THC 2010 on http://www.ca.gov

      (ROT 2010) is (09-0024). 09-0024 is Richard Lee’s initiative. It’s pending approval for signature gathering. 09-0024 is NOT THE INITIATIVE WE WANT!