"I chose to get involved because of the struggles of our country's veterans and the opioid epidemic, after learning how descheduling the drug can potentially help with both crises", said Boehner, now 68.
The same day that House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed that he won't see re-election, a marijuana company announced that his predecessor John Boehner and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld have agreed to join its board.
Both Boehner and Weld say they've never personally tried it, but they gave a joint statement about how "the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy". "As members of the Board, Speaker Boehner and Governor Weld will bring an vast, collective and unique set of experiences in government affairs, unmatched leadership and guidance to help drive Acreage towards its strategic mission".
"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 said. Boehner's endorsement, after saying nine years ago he was "unalterably opposed" to legalization, could be considered a watershed event: Marijuana has gone mainstream.
Boehner and Weld also voiced support for declassifying marijuana as a Class 1 drug under federal law, placing it among other drugs and substances with "no now accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse", according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). "Cannabis could be perceived as an exit drug, not a gateway drug" for opioids, he explained, noting that his libertarian view on the matter had led him to support marijuana legalization in MA as early as 1992.
Since his abrupt exit from Congress in 2015, Boehner has kept a relatively low profile, but during his days in Congress he made his penchant for wine well-known.
About 61 percent of Americans said marijuana should be legalized in a Pew Research Center survey from October, compared with 31 percent in 2000. "We know the Acreage team to be great industry leaders and are optimistic that with their new advisory Board, Acreage can help lead the way for commonsense reform at the federal level." - David Feuerstein, Co-Founder & Partner at Feuerstein Kulick LLP, a cannabis law firm providing legal services to companies, funds, investors, and lenders in the space. - Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech (TRTC), the largest publicly traded cannabis company in the USA, with medical dispensaries in California and Nevada.
Weld said his advocacy will likely find appeal among conservatives who champion state laws to regulate issues without federal interference.
On Wednesday, Boehner said he'd been swayed by seeing the relief medical marijuana offered to some veterans struggling with PTSD and chronic pain. But the $168.3 billion state budget passed on March 30 includes funding for his plan to conduct a study on the health, economic and criminal justice impacts legalized marijuana could have across NY, especially now that neighboring Vermont and MA have legalized it. Twenty additional states allow for some form of medical marijuana.
New York-based Acreage Holdings is a multi-state owner of cannabis licenses and assets.