Former congressional leader John Boehner became an unlikely advocate for cannabis.
Boehner, who served as speaker of the house from 2011 to 2015, was known for his strong anti-cannabis stance. However, on Wednesday, he announced that he has reversed years of opposition to marijuana, saying that his thinking about the drug has “evolved.”
In fact, Boehner now serves as a member of the board of advisers for Acreage Holdings, a multi-state and actively-managed cannabis corporation. Acreage Holdings cultivates, processes, and distributes cannabis in 11 states in the U.S. and holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses in the country.
Boehner’s previous sentiments about cannabis
It can be recalled that in 2007, Boehner had voted against a proposed amendment that would have prohibited the U.S. Department of Justice from using resources to go after states that have legalized cannabis. This amendment had failed back then.
And in 2011, the former house speaker said that he’s “unalterably opposed” to legalizing cannabis or any other Schedule I drug. In response to an inquiry from a National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) member, Boehner expressed concern that cannabis legalization would only result in the increased abuse of all types of drugs, as well as alcohol.
Boehner is no stranger to vices and had been very vocal about his love of red wine and cigarettes.
A shift in cannabis views
In a recent interview, Boehner said that over the last 10 to 15 years, the people’s attitudes have changed, and he also finds himself in that same position.
He also very recently tweeted that he is now convinced that cannabis needs to be de-scheduled. According to him, the change in his views was motivated by his desire to help veterans and to help reverse the opioid epidemic so that it stops ravaging communities.
Boehner further explained that he has come to the conclusion that descheduling marijuana is necessary so that experts in federally funded institutions can do research and testing, and this will eventually enable the Veterans Affairs to offer the drug as a treatment option.
Boehner said that while the 10th Amendment of the Constitution makes way for states to implement their own cannabis programs, they still need the federal government’s support. “Descheduling cannabis will lessen the conflict between state programs and federal policy,” he added.
About John Boehner
The 68-year-old Republican from Southwest Ohio was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1990. Boehner served as the House Majority Leader from 2006 until 2007, and House Minority Leader from 2007 until 2011. He then became the 53rd Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 2011 until his abrupt resignation in 2015 amid controversies with the increasingly fractious Republican caucus.
Boehner stepped down in the face of discord while he tried to pass a resolution to fund Planned Parenthood. Conservative opposition to this resolution, as well as strong threats to his leadership due to the controversy, eventually prompted Boehner to announce his resignation.
Since then, Boehner joined tobacco company Reynolds American Inc. as a board member. He also became adviser for the global law firm Squire Patton Boggs US LLP.
Boehner joins Acreage Holdings
Recently, Acreage Holdings appointed Boehner to its board of advisers, along with former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld. Weld, 72, served as governor from 1991 to 1997. In 2016, Weld was the vice presidential candidate under the Libertarian Party.
Acreage founder and chief executive officer Kevin Murphy said that appointing both Boehner and Weld is going to “help shape the course” of the cannabis industry.
In a statement, Murphy explained that the company has a goal to provide patients safe and reliable access to cannabis and the addition of Boehner and Weld to its Board will help change the conversation overnight and lead to better access for patients.
Featured image is from Former House Speaker John Boehner’s Twitter account.