Published: Sat, April 14, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

Why John Boehner Changed His Mind on Cannabis

Why John Boehner Changed His Mind on Cannabis

Today, it can breathe a bit easier as former Republican House Speaker John Boehner joins the advisory board of US cannabis producer Acreage Holdings.

A second prominent Republican, former MA governor Bill Weld, announced that he is also joining Acreage.

Boehner, who had been quietly enjoying his retirement since retiring in 2015, will be joining the board of advisers at Acreage Holdings, a cannabis business that aims to "make cannabis available to any patient who can benefit from safe and reliable access". But in a Wednesday tweet, he said his "thinking on cannabis has evolved" and that he believes it should be de-scheduled.

"I have concluded descheduling the drug is needed so that we can do research and allow VA to offer it as a treatment option in the fight against the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our communities", he said. Boehner, an unabashed tobacco smoker, opposed marijuana legalization and voted against proposals to keep federal enforcement away from state-legal medical marijuana programs. Bill Weld will also join the board.

Weld said he's been in favor of medical marijuana for years and supported the initiative that legalized adult-use in MA in 2016, the Financial Post reported.

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Marijuana is still classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I substance - meaning it's considered more risky than cocaine (Schedule II) or ketamine (Schedule III). Twenty additional states allow for some form of medical marijuana.

While marijuana advocates largely welcomed Mr. Boehner's support, some hadn't forgotten his history of opposition.

Founded in 2014, Acreage Holdings cultivates, processes and dispenses at marijuana operations in 11 states, according to its website. A number of Republican lawmakers criticized a recent move by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to roll back a long-standing policy of federal noninterference with state-legal recreational marijuana laws. "These men have shaped the political course of our country for decades and now they will help shape the course of this nascent but ascendant industry".

"With the majority of Republicans favoring legalization and states rights, it is no surprise that mainstream right-leaning politicians are beginning to gravitate towards cannabis".

During the last four years of his time in Congress, Boehner served as the Speaker of the House.

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