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John Boehner joins marijuana company board, cites ‘evolved’ position

April 11, 2018

John Boehner joins marijuana company board, cites ‘evolved’ position

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- John Boehner says he’s “evolved” on the issue of marijuana and will join the board of a national cannabis company that has operations in several states.

The former U.S. House Speaker from Ohio and former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld announced their new roles on the board of New York-based Acreage Holdings in a joint statement Wednesday.

“I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities,” Boehner tweeted.

I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved. I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities. @AcreageCannabis https://t.co/f5i9KcQD0W— John Boehner (@SpeakerBoehner) April 11, 2018

Boehner, 68, represented Southwest Ohio from 1990 to 2015. He served as speaker from 2011 to 2015. Boehner, an unabashed tobacco smoker, opposed marijuana legalization and voted against proposals to keep federal enforcement away from state-legal medical marijuana programs.

Ohio is one of 29 states that allow marijuana use for medical purposes. Another nine states and Washington D.C. have made recreational use legal.

In their joint statement, Boehner and Weld said federal policy has prevented too many Americans, especially veterans, from using cannabis to treat PTSD and other ills. The position puts the two Republicans at odds with many in their party, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who earlier this year rescinded Obama-era protections for the multibillion-dollar industry.

“While the Tenth 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: 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 ravaging our communities,” they wrote.

Boehner told Bloomberg that he’s never tried the drug. He said his stance changed after he saw cannabis help a close friend dealing with back pain, learned more about its use as a treatment for veterans and studied criminal justice issues.

“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”

Boehner said he does not have a financial investment in Acreage, which operates in 11 states.

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