Former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner announced Wednesday that he has joined the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a company that grows, processes, and dispenses marijuana (legally) in 11 US states. Boehner’s appointment is a drastic turn from his previous stance against marijuana while he was still a member of the House, up until 2015.
“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” Boehner said in an interview with Bloomberg News. “I find myself in that same position.”
And boy, he isn’t kidding. Back while he was still in office, the former politician said he was “unalterably opposed” to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, a stance that led to many people’s arrests and jail sentences for marijuana usage.
What changed Boehner’s mind? A friend started using the drug to help alleviate back pain, and Boehner, along with his Acreage Holdings colleague and former Governor of Massachusetts William Weld, learned that millions of US military veterans use the drug to self-treat their PTSD.
“We need to look no further than our nation’s 20 million veterans, 20 percent of whom, according to a 2017 American Legion survey, reportedly use cannabis to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments,” Boehner and Weld said in a joint statement. “Yet the VA does not allow its doctors to recommend its usage. There are numerous other patient groups in America whose quality of life has been dramatically improved by the state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis.”
Boehner would also like to see marijuana decriminalized mostly in order to have the drug’s positive uses better studied — something that can’t happen if it is still illegal on a federal level.
“While the 10th Amendment has allowed much to occur at the state level, there are still many negative implications of the Federal policy to schedule cannabis as a Class 1 drug,” the joint statement says. “Most notably the lack of research, the ambiguity around financial services and the refusal of the VA to offer it as an alternative to the harmful opioids that are ravishing our communities.”
While states like California are working to ensure marijuana is legally available to people 21 and older, the federal government continues to crack down on the drug and those who use it. But with Boehner on board at Acreage, it could mean a change in federal policy thanks to his insider knowledge of both the GOP and Washington.
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(Photo via Alex Wong/Getty)