Oaksterdam University, the first cannabis college in the nation, celebrated its 10th anniversary with an Emmy-like awards ceremony and dinner last month.
Nearly 500 people — including such pioneers as Valerie Corral, Ed Rosenthal, Richard Lee and Jeff Jones to name just a few — helped OU recognize its newest graduates and honor those in the Oaksterdam community. The audience was made up of activists, entrepreneurs, students, faculty and citizens who have fought for cannabis rights and freedoms for over 20 years. OU Executive Chancellor Dale Sky Jones served as the night’s MC.
“While there is much still to do, we wanted to recognize, honor and thank people who have made a difference in transforming the movement into an industry,” she said. “This evening was about celebrating the gladiators for how much has been accomplished as well as remembering what has been lost in the cannabis policy reform battle.”
Held at the Scottish Rite Center along Lake Merritt in Oakland, California the evening began with a graduation ceremony for Oaksterdam alumni from April 2012 to the present day. Commencement speaker Oakland City Councilmember-At-Large Rebecca Kaplan spoke eloquently of her experiences through the years, including experiencing the federal raid on Oaksterdam in 2012 while the worst mass shooting in Oakland history occurred simultaneously a few miles away at Oikos University.
Keynote speaker Richard Lee, Oaksterdam University’s retired founder, was honored with Living Legend Recognition and received a standing ovation. Alameda County Board of Supervisors presented the college with a formal commendation as a dynamic, diverse and responsive academic institution dedicated to equity and educating the global cannabis community as the world’s only hands-on training facility.
“Alameda County rarely gives commendations and the fact that they planned to surprise us made it all the more special,” said Dr. Aseem Sappal, OU’s Provost and Dean of Faculty. “What a great honor to be recognized for our achievements over the past 20 plus years on an evening when we were honoring so many others.”
Award winners included Lynette Shaw (Cannabis Pioneer Award), Valerie Corral for WAMM and Ann Lee For RAMP (Advocacy Awards), Tommy Chong (Luminary Award), Dr. Sue Sisley (Chancellor’s High Achievement Award), Richard Lee (Living Legend Recognition) and many more. Green Heart Medals were awarded to a host of people for suffering great loss or “shedding blood” while placing themselves at great risk for cannabis freedom and rights. A Certificate of Appreciation was given to major sponsor Acres Cannabis from NV and to Big Rock, who funded $25,000 in scholarships this year.
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