Rep. Dan Schoen, a cosponsor of last year's medical marijuana bill, said Tuesday he will become a consultant for LeafLine Labs, one of two cannabis companies in the state.
Schoen, DFL-Cottage Grove, 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, which will grow, process and distribute medical marijuana in Minnesota.
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 it's what my community desires, I will advocate for that tirelessly."
Schoen's new consulting job for LeafLine Labs comes on the heels of another high-profile hire by the medical marijuana producer. LeafLine Labs in June hired Assistant Health Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala as its new chief executive.
Until he accepted the job with LeafLine, Munson-Regala oversaw the state Office of Medical Cannabis and the rollout of Minnesota's medical marijuana program, which 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 that staff members feel safe.
"With the expiration of our existing security director's contract, we were glad that Dan Schoen was willing to serve as our interim security director," said Andrew Bachman, co-founder and chief medical officer of LeafLine Labs, in a statement. "As we evaluate a more permanent solution for head of security later this year, Mr. Schoen has graciously accepted an offer to work with us on a temporary and contractual basis."
The company did not disclose the terms of Schoen's contract.
Asked if he would have earned the job if not for his role as sponsor of the medical marijuana law and involvement in connecting the company with cities in his districts, Schoen said, "I don't know." He added: "It's hard to say."
Schoen 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 is being 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 from one of nine qualifying conditions, such as cancer, epilepsy, Crohn's disease or glaucoma.