DEA agent leaves agency for budding pot industry

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Breanna Deutsch Contributor
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After ten years of clamping down on drug dealers and users, Patrick Moen has left his high-ranking post at the Drug Enforcement Administration to cash in on an industry he was once paid to annihilate, reports Reuters.

This past November, Moen decided to relinquish his government badge and joined Seattle-based Privateer Holdings — a marijuana investing firm. Here he serves as managing director of compliance and senior counsel. Now that recreational use of the plant is legal in Washington State and Colorado, Moen sees the pot industry as a space riddled with opportunities.

His career move did not come without criticism from his former boss at the DEA. But Moen does not believe supporting marijuana entrepreneurs conflicts with the DEA’s overall mission.

“I don’t really feel like it’s the other side,” he told Reuters. If fact, he says, with the legalization of marijuana DEA officers will now be able to focus on drugs that are more harmful.

Despite his new allegiance to the growth of the cannabis industry, some long-time pot supporters do not feel like Moen deserves their trust or support.

Mitchell Stern, owner of the California-based Burning Bush Nurseries, blasted Moen on Twitter recently.

Stern tweeted that Moen was a “rat” and “opportunist.” He urged others in the medical marijuana field to steer clear of any seed money from Moen’s firm.

“This man made a career of putting people like me, my friends and my co-workers in jail,” says Stern. “I don’t think he’s in this to right a wrong. He’s in this to make money for his own personal benefit.”

In an interview with the Seattle Times, Moen explained that although during his tenure with the DEA he went after pot users, he eventually concluded that this was wrongheaded.

Moen told the Times, “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.”

In the same interview he also elaborated on the general disorder at the DEA and said that the legalization of marijuana offered him a path to a new career, “I had been contemplating career moves, looking for new challenges. It was partly a reflection of the general dysfunction of the federal government. Gridlock in D.C. has trickled down to affect every employee. It hurts morale. I’ll leave it at that.”

Moen is not the only unlikely character who has decided to capitalize on the “green rush.”

Another former DEA agent, Paul Schmidt, now works as a consultant for medical cannabis businesses. Although recreational marijuana is only legal in Washington and Colorado, 20 states plus the District of Columbia allow the consumption of pot for medical use.

A few bigwigs are also investing their resources into the bourgeoning industry.

Former Mexican president Vicente Fox has also campaigned for the legalization of marijuana and supported former Microsoft executive Jamen Shively’s to create the world’s first commercial marijuana brand.

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