Illinois recently joined the list of more enlightened states by enacting a Medical Cannabis Pilot Program, with the legal sale of medical cannabis commencing on November 9. While the first week garnered $210,000 in sales at the few dispensaries currently open, another statistic is proving to be very interesting.
The Illinois medical cannabis business is attracting an unusually high number of former law enforcement officials, with a wide range of backgrounds, from homicide detective to judge to Secret Service agent.
Doing business with former drug war enforces might make the average cannabis enthusiast a bit concerned, but many of them “describe dramatic conversions borne from seeing the benefits of marijuana for the sickest of patients, including children with epilepsy or cancer-stricken relatives.”
“I’ve done a total about-face on my views,” said Ben Percy, who worked as an Illinois State Police officer for 27 years and says they “took quite a bit of money, drugs and criminals off the road.” Percy is now general manager of Trinity Compassionate Care Center in Peoria.
Terrance Gainer was a Chicago homicide detective, Illinois State Police director, assistant police chief in Washington, D.C., U.S. Capitol police chief and U.S. Senate sergeant-at-arms. Now he advises Green Thumb Industries on its security needs.
Gainer says, “the sea change in society and our attitudes” toward cannabis, along with the potential for big profits, drew him to the Illinois medical cannabis business.
Former judges, prosecutors, U.S. Marshals, and DEA agents are now opening grow operations and dispensaries, advising on regulatory compliance, advising on security and providing armored transportation. The HCI Alternatives dispensary is opening right next to the state police regional headquarters.
“It’s been incredibly rewarding,” said Pat Moen, who has spoken with more than 100 current or former law enforcement officers about going into the medical cannabis business. “This is a mainstream product sought by mainstream consumers.”
While it would be easy to lambast these former drug war enforcers for their past actions, we should instead encourage them, so their own enlightenment can spark further change within law enforcement.
Perhaps they will join the growing ranks of an important advocacy group—Law Enforcement Against Prohibition—“who bear personal witness to the wasteful futility and harms of our current drug policies.”
“By continuing to fight the so-called ‘War on Drugs,’ the US government has worsened these problems of society instead of alleviating them.”