Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove, a co-sponsor of last year's medical marijuana bill, said Tuesday that he has accepted a consulting job with LeafLine Labs, one of two cannabis companies in the state. 

Schoen said he is taking an unpaid leave from his job as a Cottage Grove police officer through the end of the year. During that time, he said he will work as a security consultant on a contract basis with LeafLine Labs.

He declined to specify how much the job pays, but said "it's less than I made being a police officer."

Schoen said he worked with LeafLine Labs last year when they contacted him for help in scouting cities that would let them operate.

"I introduced them to every city administrator and mayor... in all four of the cities I represent that wanted to meet with them," Schoen said in an interview. "If if what's my community desires, I will advocate for that tirelessly."

Requests seeking comment from LeafLine Labs and a spokesman for Cottage Grove Police Department were not immediately returned Tuesday. 

Schoen's newly-acquired consulting job for LeafLine Labs comes on the heels of another high-profile hire by the medical marijuana producer. Last month, LeafLine Labs announced that it had hired Assistant Health Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala as their new chief executive.

In his previous role, Munson-Regala oversaw the implementation of the state's new medical marijuana program, which went opened to patients July 1. 

In his new job, Schoen said he will help the company with the opening of other clinics, including one in St. Cloud. He said his duties will include designing security procedures at clinics, devising transportation routes, training and ensuring staff feel safe.

Asked if he would have earned the job if not for his role as sponsor of the medical marijuana law and involvement connecting the company with cities in his districts, Schoen said "I don't know." He added: "It's hard to say."

He defended his hiring saying that his background as a police officer and previous experience as a paramedic made him suited for the role. He also highlighted his role in the creation of the law: "I have knowledge about the law, and the medical cannabis issue and that is unique in Minnesota."

Minnesota's medical marijuana program is one of the most tightly regulated in the nation, and also the most clinical. Cannabis will be sold only in pills, oils or liquids, not as smokable plant material. The hope is that the manufacturers will be able to tailor doses, not only to different conditions, but to different patients and their needs.

Minnesota's medical cannabis program is open to patients suffering one of nine qualifying conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, Crohn's disease or glaucoma.

Photo: Rep. Dan Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove. 

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