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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

DEA Agent Turns Pot Industry Consultant

By:  Timothy P. Flynn

Last year, former DEA Supervisory Special Agent Patrick Moen jumped from the federal law enforcement ship he was on his entire career.  He swam aboard Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm dedicated to the development of the emerging North American cannabis market, where he currently serves as the Managing Director of Compliance.

Readers of this blog will recognize the recurrent theme embedded in this post.  Put simply, although marijuana has become much less criminalized over the past decade, its persistence on Schedule 1 of the federal Controlled Substance Act significantly compromises the trajectory of the legalization process.

During his career at the DEA and the Department of Justice, former agent Moen was immersed in all aspects of the illicit drug industry.  He developed expertise in forensic accounting, electronic surveillance, undercover operations, and intelligence.

Recognizing the trend toward legalization of marijuana, Moen kept an eye on the industry players along the West Coast from his home in Portland, Oregon.  He was underwhelmed until he saw an interview with Brendan Kennedy, the Yale-educated CEO of Privateer Holdings.

As the compliance director, Moen navigates the network of money-laundering and conspiracy statutes and other state drug laws to maintain 100% compliance for Privateer.  Check out the firm's website, linked above; they truly have it going on as far as the pot industry is concerned.

We here at the Law Blogger have followed the federal court challenges the pot lobby has made to the Schedule 1 classification; we have followed the international relations involved with our sudden shift in the quarter-century "war-on-drugs", and the effect this recent about-face has had on Latin American regional treaty states that have accepted our international aid dollars for decades to eradicate pot and criminalize drug cartels.

As former agent Moen fully understands, state pot laws and medical marijuana acts are designed to facilitate the hippy farmer "grow-your-own" business model.  But enterprising profiteers are pushing the bounds.

The pot industry, however, need banks and insurance companies to get involved in the business plan for these, er, budding companies to take the next steps.  The big boys have shied away due to the continued federal illegality, leaving company owners to carry boxes of cash to banks every day, wasting time counting out paper money.

Neither are banks and insurance companies reassured by the present administration's "hands-off" approach to the federal marijuana laws.  AG Eric Holder will not hold his post forever; political winds can change overnight.

We here at the Law Blogger believe it is time to truly decriminalize marijuana by removing it from Schedule 1.  The case brought by the pot lobby currently under consideration by the SCOTUS will not get the job done; that is a task for Congress.

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