DEA Agent Joins Marijuana Industry

“DEA Agent Joins Marijuana Industry,” produced by Paul
Detrick. Approximately 10 minutes.

Originally released on February 26, 2014.
Original text is posted below:

While Washington State is still adjusting to many
changes since legalizing recreational marijuana—from growing space
size to the number of licenses to give out—one of the biggest
changes may be Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) employees going to
work in the private sector. Reason TV sat down with Patrick Moen, a
former supervisory special agent with the DEA, who now works as
compliance director and senior counsel at Privateer Holdings, a private
equity firm that invests in cannabis

“The more law enforcement officers acknowledge that
prohibition [of marijuana] is wrong, the better off society is
going to be,” said Moen. At the DEA he specialized in wiretaps and
worked on cases varying from busting heroin and methamphetamine
rings to rooting out pot and painkiller dealers. “Taking that first
step is often the most difficult one, it just so happened that I
was the one to take it.”

Moen says that he got a lot of support from friends and former
colleagues, the latter of which privately asked him for jobs. He
says people may be surprised to know that an overwhelming majority
of agents he interacted with didn’t feel marijuana should be a
priority for the DEA.

“Well, my own personal point of view is that drugs like
methamphetamine and heroin have legitimate, observable, harmful
effects to the user and people around the user and you definitely
cannot say the same thing about cannabis,” says Moen.

Reason TV presented Moen with numbers from the Department
of Justice’s 2013 National Drug Threat
 indicating an increase in the availability of
methamphetamine and heroin in the U.S.

“There are some cases of mine in particular that I am very proud of
that I can look back at and say that I had a measurable effect on
this community for some period of time before it bounced back,”
says Moen. “I don’t think anyone was under the illusion that we
were going to stop it, that we were going to win the war on drugs.”

Moen is aware of the criticism of the DEA and the war on drugs in
“I think there is a certain subset of the population that views DEA
agents as jackbooted thugs, that have an agenda to oppress them….
But it’s just another job, and there are guys there that are
competent, and there are guys there that are less so, but they are
all trying to do the job the best that they can.”

Privateer Holdings is looking to invest in businesses that surround
the legal marijuana industry like the cannabis review site,, which also helps users find different strains and
locations of cannabis around them. Leafly claims to have a website
and app that generate more than more than 2.3
million visits a month

The private cannabis industry isn’t without worries
though. CEO at Privateer Holdings, Brenden Kennedy, told
Bloomberg TV on January 28, that banking
in the marijuana industry was nearly impossible because banks were
concerned with the taboo nature of the product.
 ”We have
been kicked out of two banks, two large banks, very
unceremoniously,” said Kennedy, who also said at least one employee
at Privateer Holdings had experienced trouble with his personal
bank account.

“The biggest risk we see is from the federal government.
Bureaucrats and politicians are always the last ones to accept
change,” said Kennedy.
Approximately 10:07.

Produced and edited by Paul Detrick. Shot by Alex Manning. Music is
“A Freak” by Moby.

from Hit & Run

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