MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A third state official who helped write Minnesota’s medical cannabis law has gone to work for the company licensed to sell it.
That news comes one day after DFL State Representative Dan Schoen announced he’ll become LeafLine Labs’s top security officer.
Every state has laws against potential conflicts of interest, and 33 states have laws that are tougher than Minnesota’s.
The medical cannabis grower LeafLine Labs is cherry picking some of the best state officials who wrote the new law, passed it and regulated it.
WCCO found out on Thursday that LeafLine hired Jamie Olson as its chief counsel last month. She was a top lawyer for the Minnesota House who helped write the cannabis law in 2014.
Olson is among the state’s top legal experts on the subject, and her LinkedIn page shows numerous public appearances explaining it.
Schoen, a co-sponsor of the cannabis bill, said says he’s taking a leave of absence from his police officer job in Cottage Grove to be LeafLine’s top security officer.
And in June, a top state Health Department official who awarded LeafLine the cannabis franchise became the company’s CEO.
One leading state senator is proposing a commission to look at Minnesota’s ethics and conflict of interest laws.
Sen. David Hann, the GOP minority leader, said he’s less concerned about a state worker revolving door than he is about elected officials.
“Are we protecting the interests of the public?” he asked. “When they elect somebody, are they electing a person who is serving the public interest, or is it the private interest that they are serving?
WCCO spoke with Schoen Thursday afternoon. He strongly rejects any claims that he has a conflict of interest. And he said he supports the idea of a commission to update Minnesota’s ethics laws.
“I work hard to make sure jobs come to my community and people get the help they need,” said Schoen, who said voters are discouraged by negative politics. “People will say or do anything — it’s ugly.”
A LeafLine spokesman said the company had no comment.