Oaksterdam: Ten years old and gaining international recognition PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Lee
On the Fourth of July, 1996, Jeff Jones moved the Oakland Cannabis Buyer's Cooperative, his medical marijuana delivery service, into a fifth floor office space at 1755 Broadway in Uptown Oakland. This historic moment was made possible in large part by Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, who spearheaded numerous resolutions while on the Oakland City Council, eventually deputizing Jones as a cannabis control officer in an effort to shield him from federal prosecution.
ImageWhen Dennis Peron's San Francisco CBC was raided and temporarily closed in August of '96, the OCBC was there for patients with no where else to go. That November, Prop 215 won and patients began coming to Oakland from all over the state. By 1997 the OCBC had outgrown it's original location and relocated to the third floor of the same building. The front office verified doctor recommendations and issued cards while in the back cannabis products, gardening supplies and starter plants were available to members.
Image In the summer of '98 Andrew Glazier, the OCBC gardening expert, opened the Four Seasons Hydroponic Garden Center at 1737 Broadway. This was the first retail space leased in what would soon become the heart of Oaksterdam.
Earlier that year, the federal government had filed a civil injunction against the OCBC and five other clubs. The OCBC was forced to close it's dispensary in October of 1998 while the case worked it's way up to the US Supreme Court.
In December, Jim McClellan, the OCBC's chief financial officer, left the coop to open The Zoo dispensary at 1736 Telegraph. McClellan also operated a large cannabis production facility at the Glove Building in West Oakland and founded the Berkeley Patients Group before dying of AIDS in 2001.
The OCBC continued to verify recommendations and issue cards, as well as opening a hemp store at their new location, 1733 Broadway. The Zoo would move to 1734 Telegraph in 1999 as again more space was needed for the new Oakland cannabis industry that was revitalizing an area that had seen retail properties sit empty and idle for years.
Quotation more space was needed for the new Oakland cannabis industry that was revitalizing an area that had seen retail properties sit empty and idle for years. Quotation
In April of the same year Richard Lee saw the beginning of a cannabis friendly shopping district similar to the Dutch coffeeshop areas of Holland.
He leased 1739 Broadway, which would become the Bulldog Coffeeshop later that year, named after a chain of Amsterdam coffeeshops famous for their tenacity. The Bulldog, and it's founder Henk Devries were raided by the police hundreds of times in the 1970's, sometimes more than once in a week. Today Devries operates nine locations including a cannabis friendly hotel, selling cannabis and paying millions in taxes.
Today the name Oaksterdam is recognized around the world as a symbol of the over-the-counter cannabis culture that emerged here and has gained acceptance in communities throughout the state.
Look for part 2 of the Oaksterdam saga in the next issue of the O'dam News.