Medical Marijuana Businesses Lure Illinois Law Enforcement Officials

From narc to budtender—former Illinois law enforcement officials are being lured to jobs within the state’s burgeoning number of medical marijuana businesses, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.

The ex-officials—whose former law-enforcement duties include undercover narcotics investigations and the overseeing of various police organizations—have accepted various roles within the medical marijuana industry, including those of security personnel, business consulting and outright business ownership.

“The business people involved in this are very serious about their investments,” said Terrence Gainer, who has held a number of prestigious law enforcement positions, including that of Illinois State Police director and the U.S. Senate sergeant-at-arms. Gainer now advises the Chicago-based distributor Green Thumb Industries on security matters. He joined the industry after what he referred to as “the sea change in society and our attitudes” in regards to the business surrounding medical marijuana.

Illinois is hardly the only state to attract former law enforcement officials to the industries surrounding legal and medical marijuana: The states of Washington and Colorado, both of which have legalized recreational marijuana use, have also seen an influx of former law enforcement officers.

“It’s been incredibly rewarding,” said Pat Moen, who joined the Seattle-based medical marijuana investment firm in 2013 after a 10-year career with the Drug Enforcement Administration. “This is a mainstream product sought by mainstream consumers.”

For the time being, however, before Illinois approves recreational marijuana for public consumption, legal marijuana in the state will be limited to those with medicinal needs. And if the current situation is any indication, the numbers of former law enforcement officials who have jumped aboard the bandwagon will continue to grow.

“I never got to pick and choose which laws I enforced…This is the same thing,” says Scott Abbott, a former Illinois State Police colonel who now consults on legal matters for several of the state’s dispensaries. “It’s legal right now. As long as the follow the law, I’ve got no problem with it.”

Written by John Winston, Media Director for

Leave a Reply