Top DEA Agent Lands Job as Legal Advisor to Marijuana Investment Firm
Washington’s revolving door has spun a new kind of private sector opportunity for government workers looking for greener pastures: legalized marijuana.
So far only one official has made such a move: Patrick Moen, a veteran agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). But Moen’s career transition has opened eyes, given his criminal enforcement work, and the fact that commercial marijuana sales are still rare in the U.S.
However, his new employer, Privateer Holdings, a private-equity firm, sees great things ahead in the marijuana industry, which is why it sought Moen’s experience and expertise.
Now, instead of helping the government bust heroin and methamphetamine rings in Portland, Oregon, Moen will assist Privateer with its investment strategy.
The initial job interview, which took place at a Portland coffee shop, was nerve-wracking for company chief executive Brendan Kennedy. When Moen handed Kennedy his business card, indicating he worked for the U.S. Department of Justice, “I started to sweat a bit,” Kennedy told The Wall Street Journal. And then Moen handed him an envelope. “I thought, ‘This is bad.’” But inside the envelope was Moen’s resume’ and, soon enough, Kennedy realized the value of having someone of Moen’s background to help his company navigate the rapidly changing arena of marijuana laws.
Unbeknownst to Kennedy, Moen himself was nervous at their first meeting and the prospect of such a controversial career change. “I was concerned about blowback from colleagues and from friends and family,” he told the Journal. “On the surface, it seems like a pretty abrupt about-face.” But everyone was supportive of his move.
“The potential social and financial returns are enormous,” Moen added. “The attitudes toward cannabis are shifting rapidly.”
Privateer has invested in growers, processors or distributors in Canada, but is waiting for the opportunity to do the same in the United States, where two states so far—Colorado and Washington—have decriminalized recreational marijuana use.
Moen’s job—managing director of compliance and senior counsel of Privateer—will be to use his law enforcement knowledge and legal skills (he’s also a lawyer) to help guide Privateer’s investments and make sure they don’t break the law.
He spent 10 years with the DEA, after serving as a police officer and sheriff's deputy in upstate New York.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, Danny Biederman
To Learn More:
Drug Agent Joins Budding Industry (by Ryan Dezember, Wall Street Journal)
As Marijuana Goes Legit, Investors Rush In (by Tim Mullaney, USA Today)
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