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Updated Jan 27, 2014 - 1:36 am

Agent leaves DEA for marijuana industry — yes, you read that right

A former Drug Enforcement Agency agent took up a job in the marijuana industry in Washington state, but his former colleagues say it’s not the start of a trend.

Fox News reports Patrick Moen, 36, left the DEA post in Portland last fall and now works for Seattle-based Privateer Holdings, which specializes in acquiring businesses in the marijuana industry.

“I think he doesn’t represent the hard work of every other agent and the DEA,” DEA spokeswoman Dawn Dearden told on Tuesday. Dearden declined further comment, but Moen’s former boss said he considers the move to be a source of frustration.

“It is disappointing when law enforcement officers, sworn to uphold the laws of the United States with honor, courage and integrity, abandon their commitment to work in an industry involved in trafficking marijuana,” Seattle-based DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Barnes told Reuters.

Moen has a law degree and began his career in law enforcement as an officer in New York at the age of 20. He is the second former DEA agent with ties to Oregon to make the jump to the pot industry. Paul Schmidt once served as the highest-ranking DEA agent in Oregon but now works as a medical marijuana business consultant.

Schmidt, who testified as a federal drug agent in marijuana cases throughout the region, including Washington, Colorado and Wyoming, said he saw marijuana as the “least of the evils” among other drugs like heroin, meth and cocaine.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but 20 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized medicinal usage. Colorado and Washington are the only two states to legalize the drug for recreational use, although five other states will put it up for a vote in 2014.

Moen, for his part, told The Seattle Times he has not used marijuana in the last 20 years. He said he doesn’t need to be a “concurrent consumer” to operate within the industry. Asked how he finalized his decision to leave the DEA, an agency he characterized as “the cream of the crop” among law enforcement circles, Moen said he realized over time that targeting marijuana was not an effective use of federal resources.


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