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 Assessment 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 general.
"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, Leafly.com, 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.

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  • Combaticus||

    Oh, so he was the one DEA agent who looked the other way on marijuana? Not bloody likely. I'm thinking of a word that starts with an H...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm thinking of a word that starts with an H...

    Helot?

  • setTHEline||

    So, just to summarize:

    This DEA agent used to snap necks for DEA, until pot became legal, and then he got into the game himself? Really weird how his conscious never bothered him until pot became legal. What a morally clarifying moment for him.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I, for one, believe Reason TV should sit down with more amoral sociopaths.

  • prolefeed||

    He doesn't seem to have a problem with the DEA going after all of the other illegal drugs, just the one his company is involved with.

    And, given his job title, it seems that even if his company gets busted, the worst case scenario is that he is unemployed -- sounds like he's the lawyer telling others how to push the envelope of the law without going to jail.

    So, yeah, quite possibly an actual sociopath.

  • Jerryskids||

    "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.

    Sounds like this guy wouldn't have a problem with making cigarettes and alcohol illegal, then.

    We all know we hate moral busybodies who tell you what you need to do for your own good, but it becomes more acceptable to tell people what to do if it's for someone else's good. You can't smoke because second-hand (and now third-hand) smoke, you can't drink because drunk driving and wife-beating, next you can't eat junk food because role models - I've seen a couple of mentions of 'second-hand obesity' lately, the idea that hanging around fat people who eat junk food makes you more likely to find it acceptable to be fat and eat junk food - and you can't do any of that unhealthy stuff because the social cost of ill health.

    As much as I would like to think that legalizing marijuana is part of some broader live-and-let-live movement, there are too many other things going the opposite direction.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    With any luck, this fucker will lose everything he owns to an asset forfeiture, when the DoJ decides his company has amassed enough profits to be worth seizing.

  • prolefeed||

    "who now works as compliance director and senior counsel at Privateer Holdings"

    It's not his company. He's their in-house lawyer.

  • playa manhattan||

  • ||

    It's "The King in Yellow", not the "Yellow King". Phrasing!

  • playa manhattan||

    You can take that up with Wired. I'm not much of a reader unless it's non-fiction.

  • playa manhattan||

    Now that I'm thinking about it, I would't mind if somebody knocked me unconscious right now and I woke up just before the next episode airs.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    You have mimosas to drink in the morning.

  • playa manhattan||

    That should help pass the time.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I'm going with either Woody or his FIL. Audrey's drawings and the dolls were foreshadowing.

  • playa manhattan||

    Have they signed on for a second season, or are the 8 episodes all that there are?

    I signed up for HBO for this.

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    It's an anthology series in the vein of American Horror Story. The season finale will end the story and next season will feature a completely new setting and cast of characters.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    True Detective was able to use this radically different approach to production because of its distinctive format. The show’s opening season is only eight episodes long, a third shorter than the 12 or 13 episode cycle for a cable drama (which, in itself, is much shorter than the 22 episodes typical of a network show.)

    More importantly, this eight-episode arc is completely self-contained. If the show returns for a second season, Harrelson and McConaughey won’t be back. American Horror Story adopts this approach--the FX series changes settings and turns over most of its cast each season–but True Detective takes this idea to the next level.

  • playa manhattan||

    I hope season 2 starts in April.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    I don't know. I'm not sure if they can pull another season off without Harrelson and McConaughey. The story is great, but the acting is what's killing. Who they gonna get to replace those two, De Niro and Pacino?

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    True Detective was able to use this radically different approach to production because of its distinctive format. The show’s opening season is only eight episodes long, a third shorter than the 12 or 13 episode cycle for a cable drama (which, in itself, is much shorter than the 22 episodes typical of a network show.)

    More importantly, this eight-episode arc is completely self-contained. If the show returns for a second season, Harrelson and McConaughey won’t be back. American Horror Story adopts this approach--the FX series changes settings and turns over most of its cast each season–but True Detective takes this idea to the next level.
  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Rodents.

  • playa manhattan||

    You might be right, but I also have my eye on the Elvis preacher.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    The answer will be in episode 7.
    spoilers

  • Grand Moff Serious Man||

    If the writers want to shock us, then Harrelson is the best choice. But I don't see how they could make that work without ripping off 'Fight Club'.

    Harrelson's character is just way too oblivious to pull off something like that. And Cohle is an obvious red herring.

    No, who the Yellow King is really isn't that important when you think about it. It's just a MacGuffin to get Hart and Cohle working together.

  • playa manhattan||

    There was a comment on Wired to that effect.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Fuck it's cold. -16. The high today was -11. -21 tonight.

  • playa manhattan||

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    Boring. -27 tonight.
    -33 last night.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Ouch.

    A friend of mine who lives on the Missouri River on the other side of Great falls saw -39 during our last dip in early February. But, it's fucking March for the love of Christ. Yeah, there may be three more months of winter, but it should be in the +30s by now.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    Our coldest winter in 35 years I'm told.

    The polar vortex should move out by mid week

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • Ron Paul's Balls||

    Dude. Where the fuck are you?

  • SIV||

    53 now

    43 low

    60 high today

  • playa manhattan||

    Where?

  • SIV||

    Atlanta

  • prolefeed||

    High yesterday was 82. Low today is supposed to be below freezing. You never know what gonna happen next in central Texas.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • Irish||

    I have found the darkest place on the internet:

    Dear Cis People.

    From one participant:

    Dear Cis People:
    If you have a question about my gender, fucking ask me. I’d rather you ask a question that seems “ignorant” than have you walking around misinformed. Cissexism doesn’t stem from hate. it stems from ignorance. I HATE the attitude that all straight/cis people are evil/out to get us. Most are just not thoroughly informed.

    From another:

    Dear Cis People:
    I’m not ok with having cis people asking any questions what so ever about my gender. If you have a question, you can google that shit.

    Well, that was productive.

  • Irish||

    Also:

    Dear Cis People:
    Stop getting so pissed off when you’re referred to as “cis”. Fuck you, it’s not an insult, it’s actually who you are. If you can’t handle being referred to as “cis” then try living a day in MY shoes, you DON’T and NEVER WILL be oppressed for being cis.

    I thought that if a group of people found a word offensive you weren't supposed to call them that.

    "Why don't you stop getting angry when I call you a retard. That's actually what you are, so it's okay!"

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

    Why do you do this to yourself?

  • Irish||

    Self-loathing?

  • Ron Paul's Balls||

    Why does he do this to us?

  • prolefeed||

    Unless he's magically found a way to force us to turn on our computers and click on a link we've been warned is full of derp, he's not doing anything to us.

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Fuck it. I don't give a shit if I offend anyone anymore. It's really become too hard for me to keep it all straight, so I choose not to.

  • prolefeed||

    It's really become too hard for me to keep it all straight

    I, for one, applaud you for inadvertently coming out of the closet like that. =D

  • playa manhattan||

    There's no way that's real. No way.

  • Irish||

    Uh oh! We got a badass in here!

    Dear Cis People:
    I do more to undermine the gender binary before breakfast than you do all day. And I eat breakfast pretty early.

    Another:

    Dear Cis People:
    I hate the way you make me feel. Every single one of you can be my death. Your fear can become my arrest record with a single call. Walking amongst you is an exercise of constant fear and dread. I can’t take much more of this.

    This guy seems to speak trans-English. You cis-English scum just wouldn't understand.

    I really do despise people like this. I don't give a shit if you're trans. Do what you want. Just stop your fucking whining.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Not going to happen. I firmly believe that half of the reason they do what they do is to get the attention. The whining and self-pity is part of the package. Self-assured people don't typically go looking to alter their sex.

  • Ted S.||

    David Thomspon uses the tag psychodrama for people like this. He uses it extensively, too.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Whooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaa......

    Found this in the comments:

    http://davidthompson.typepad.c.....196970d-pi

    Taking neutering to a whole 'nother level.

  • prolefeed||

    I firmly believe that half of the reason they do what they do is to get the attention.

    You're overgeneralizing. My former Vice-Chair (now the Chair) of the LP of Hawaii is TG, and one of the most self-assured people I know.

    Don't hate on every CD or TS or TG because you found one on The Intertubes who is a whiny bitch.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Fair enough. I've been in a bad mood lately.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    The real question is why is anyone obligated to understand someone else? I don't need to understand your emotional hangups to not care where you stick your plastic surgery.

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • Ted S.||

  • Archduke von Pantsfan||

  • Ted S.||

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Moen is aware of the criticism of the DEA and the war on drugs in general.
    "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."

    "There are those who say death camps are wrong. I say that's not my concern. As long as the death camps are here, I will help make them run as smoothly and efficiently as possible."

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Dear Cis People:
    If you have a question about my gender, fucking ask me.

    Dear Whateveryou are-

    I don't give a fuck about you. I couldn't care less about your self-referential sexual categorizations.

  • dalewalt||

    So tired of seeing marijuana stories on Reason. Is that really the top priority?

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