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Medical cannabis firm hires lawmaker as a consultant

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State Rep. Dan Schoen did a lot of legwork to help LeafLine Labs, one of the state's two medical marijuana manufacturers, land in Cottage Grove. Now, the company has hired him as a security consultant.

Schoen, DFL-St. Paul Park, was also a co-sponsor of the law that legalized medical marijuana in Minnesota as of July 1.

He said Wednesday he's taking an unpaid leave of absence from his job as a Cottage Grove police officer for the rest of the year to work as a part-time paid consultant for LeafLine Labs, the South Washington County Bulletin reports.

Months ago, when state officials were evaluating 12 applications from vendors who wanted to manufacture medical marijuana, Schoen said he was approached to help LeafLine Labs find a site in Cottage Grove if it were to be chosen.

Schoen said he contacted officials in all four cities in his district to get those discussions started, according to the Star Tribune.

LeafLine and another firm, Minnesota Medical Solutions, were ultimately picked to manufacture medical marijuana and set up clinics around the state to dispense the drug to patients.

LeafLine Labs' marijuana production facility is located in the Cottage Grove Business Park, and is in Schoen's district.

Schoen said the job isn't "payback" for his work on the issue or with the company.

“There’s always people that would like that to be the case, so that there’s a sexy story to tell,” he said, according to MPR News. “But the reality is legislators had no input into the selection of who was going to be selected to provide or be a manufacturer.”

Schoen said he’ll be working with LeafLine Labs on security-related matters.

“The whole issue around transportation, site security, safety for the personnel and visitors and patients. (I’m) working with them on those things,” Schoen told MPR News.

Schoen said he won't be doing any lobbying or government relations work for the company, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. He added that he'll decide on a case-by-case basis whether he'll need to abstain from voting on measures related to medical marijuana in upcoming legislative sessions.

Schoen said his arrangement is for a month-to-month contract, and he is not a payrolled employee of the company.

Schoen's new contract with LeafLine comes just a few weeks after the company hired a state Department of Health official, Manny Munson-Regala, to become its CEO. Munson-Regala was in charge of the state's Office of Medical Cannabis.

Schoen, 40, was elected in 2012. He has been on the Cottage Grove police force for the past 14 years, and the County Bulletin notes he has taken leaves of absence from his police job during each legislative session.

Cottage Grove Police Capt. Pete Koerner said the department will discuss with the City Council next month whether to hire a new patrol officer to fill in for Schoen while he's on leave, according to the Bulletin.

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