NEW YORK (Heartland Newsfeed) — In a press release published Wednesday by multi-state cannabis company Acreage Holdings, it was announced that a former Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives and former House speaker as well as a former Republican governor would be joining their board of directors.
John Boehner, former U.S. Representative and House Speaker, announced on Twitter that he had joined Acreage’s board:
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’s newfound stance on cannabis legalization is an about-face from his “unalterable opposition” during his political career, stating that “my thinking on cannabis has evolved” and that he’s convinced that “de-scheduling the drug is need so we can do research, help our veterans and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”
Boehner joins former Republican Massachusetts governor and one-time Libertarian vice presidential nominee William Weld in what is described as a coup for Acreage, though not surprising. Weld states that he has always subscribed to a libertarian philosophy and ran on a legalization plank alongside 2012 and 2016 presidential nominee and former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, who was himself a former executive in the cannabis industry.
The announcement marks Boehner as the highest-ranking Republican to embrace legalization, as well as getting involved in the industry with other Republicans like Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Sen. Rand Paul, who have advocated for legalization for years.
Boehner and Weld released a joint statement as follows:
While we come at this issue from different perspectives and track records, we both believe the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy. Over the past 20 years a growing number of states have experimented with their right to offer cannabis programs under the protection of the 10th amendment. During that period, those rights have lived somewhat in a state of conflict with federal policy. Also, during this period, the public perception of cannabis has dramatically shifted, with 94% of Americans currently in favor of some type of access, a shift driven by increased awareness of marijuana’s many medical applications.
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. 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.
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 ravishing our communities.
We are excited to join the team at Acreage in pursuit of their mission to bring safe, consistent and reliable products to patients and consumers who could benefit. We have full confidence in their management team and believe this is the team that will transform the debate, policy and landscape around this issue.
Acreage founder and CEO Kevin Murphy remarked, “The speaker of Speaker Boehner and Governor Weld to our Board will lead to even greater access for patients by changing the conversation overnight. 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.”
Both men have agreed to join the company’s board of advisors and have committed to join the company’s board of directors upon formation and other qualified directors have been appointed.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.