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John Boehner joins cannabis dispensary board: Report

April 11, 2018 GMT

Former House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that he has joined the board of a cannabis dispensary after changing his opinion on the issue.

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” Mr. Boehner said, Bloomberg reported.

He joined the Acreage Holdings Board, which cultivates, processes and dispenses marijuana in 11 states across the U.S. The move is a big shift for the former speaker who once said he was “unalterably opposed” to legal marijuana.

Marijuana activists say Mr. Boehner’s evolution on the issue is an important one for Republicans to show that those in their party are changing on the issue.

“Recent polling finds that over 60 percent of Americans support adult use marijuana legalization and, for the first time, this percentage includes a majority of self-identified Republicans. Allowing states the flexibility and autonomy to set their own marijuana regulatory policies is consistent with conservatives’ long-held respect for the 10th Amendment, as well as with the party’s recent embracing of populism,” said Erik Altieri, executive director for the marijuana advocacy group NORML.

Some in the industry are a little unsure of Mr. Boehner’s change of heart on the issue, though, but say they’re encouraged by his willingness to see things differently.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that the former Republican Speaker of the House joined the advisory board of a cannabis company firm. I have great respect for Mr. Boehner, and his decision to become involved with the industry and therefore by default an advocate of cannabis is remarkable,” said Jim Pakulis, CEO of TransCanna Holdings Inc., a branding and logistics firm for cannabis companies.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld also joined the company’s board.

“We view this advocacy that we get from these two gentlemen as immensely positive for the industry,” said George Allen, president of Acreage.

Both Mr. Boehner and Mr. Weld say they’ve never tried marijuana, according to Bloomberg.