Former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agent Patrick Moen worked for more than a decade at the DEA as a high ranking enforcement agent and has now turned in his badge to pursue a career in the marijuana industry. Seattle Washington based Privateer Holdings is an investment firm that has specialized in funding the budding marijuana industry since 2010, and Mr. Moen is now the Managing Director of Compliance and Senior Counsel for the firm.
In Oregon, Paul Schmidt, a former Portland based DEA agent who retired in 2010 has recently started a consulting firm for the medical cannabis industry after working for years as a respected state inspector of medical pot dispensaries in Colorado. Meanwhile former Mexican president Vicente Fox visited Seattle to support a marijuana firm fronted by former Microsoft exec Jamen Shively, and most recently the Seattle Police Department began deciding the question of whether it should allow off-duty police officers to moonlight as security guards at local weed stores later this year.
“I saw this as an amazing opportunity to be a part of the team that’s helping to create this industry” Moen told Reuters. “I don’t really feel like it’s the other side.” The U.S. Department of Justice expressed its own acquiescence when it announced in late August that it would not prohibit or interfere with state efforts to regulate or tax legal marijuana sales, provided that the states are able to meet requirements which include age restriction enforcement and responsibly preventing the flow of legal cannabis across state borders into other states where it currently remains illegal.
As of today, marijuana does remain illegal under federal law, and is prohibited by a minority of states as well. However, many states and Washington DC are now allowing medical marijuana use, while a growing number including Colorado, Washington and Alaska now allow recreational weed stores as well.
Among his current assignments, according to published reports former DEA agent Patrick Moen will now be working for Privateer in ways aimed at avoiding legal pitfalls as the firm pushes deeper into the trenches of the cannabis cultivation market for medical marijuana in Canada after years of funding weed businesses while staying very far on the sidelines of the actual business being done.
Some law enforcement officials didn’t see Moen’s move with as supportive a perspective. For example, Seattle based DEA Special Agent Matthew G. Barnes (the top-ranking DEA official in the Pacific Northwest) suggested Moen was falling short of what he expects from fellow agents. “It is disappointing when law enforcement officers, sworn to uphold the laws of the United States with honor, courage and integrity, abandon their commitment, to work in an industry involved in trafficking marijuana” Barnes stated to Reuters. DEA chief of operations James Capra also denounced the move toward ending pot prohibition by claiming that it is a “reckless and irresponsible” trend while he addressed a U.S. Senate hearing about marijuana reform.
Moen seems fine with everyone expressing their opinions, and pointed out that he has also heard from plenty of supportive people as well. “I’ve gotten a lot of support from former colleagues” Moen explained to Reuters. “I wasn’t sure how guys were going to react and it’s been really great. Over the course of years I realized that the targeting of marijuana was not an effective use of resources. There was no ‘aha’ moment. It was a steady evolution involving discussions with friends and colleagues” he told the Seattle Times last month. “The potential social and financial returns are enormous” Moen told the Wall Street Journal. “The attitudes toward cannabis are shifting rapidly.”
According a report in the WSJ, Privateer raised $7 million and was looking to bring in another $25 million of venture capital during 2015. Each investors are commits a minimum of $250,000 and the firm uses its capital to back cannabis-centric projects. The effect of these investments and the success of the industry overall is accelerating a massive shift in public opinion. A recent CNN/ORC International survey showed that 55% of respondents across the entire United States now favor marijuana legalization.
Even President Obama appears to be ready to legalize marijuana. “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol” he told the New Yorker – which is hardly the same level of condemnation former Presidents expressed about the idea of legalizing cannabis for recreational enjoyment nation wide.
High-Ranked DEA Agents Quitting DEA to Join Marijuana Industry Comments (1)
Law Enforcement can be a BIG part of the solution
Check the important work groups like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) have been doing already. This isn't an us vs them scenario - it's time for everyone to come together and find safe, legal, mutually beneficial rules that protect the personal freedom to enjoy marijuana and the personal freedom not to be overwhelmed by other people enjoying marijuana on equal footing. http://www.leap.cc/