Former House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday that he is joining the advisory board of one of the nation's largest cannabis dispensers to help shift federal policy concerning medical marijuana.
The former Republican congressman from Ohio, who as recently as 2011 claimed he was "unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana," wrote on Twitter that his thinking on the matter has "evolved."
Boehner, who served as House speaker from 2011 until his resignation from Congress in 2015, said he is now committed to removing prohibitions that limit cannabis from being used for medicinal purposes. He pitched de-scheduling, the term for removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, as potentially beneficial to advancing medical research, especially when it comes to treating opioid addiction.
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
Acreage Holdings, which holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses across 11 states, announced Boehner's appointment along with that of former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.
In a joint statement, Boehner and Weld said it is time for "serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy." The pair cited the changing public perception of the drug as further impetus for action.
"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," they said. "Public perception of cannabis has dramatically shifted, with 94 percent of Americans currently in favor of some type of access, a shift driven by increased awareness of marijuana's many medical applications."
The duo also castigated federal prohibitions on marijuana that left states like Colorado, Maine, Ohio, and Florida, which implemented their own laws governing the drug, in limbo.
"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," they said. "During that period, those rights have lived somewhat in a state of conflict with federal policy."
Boehner and Weld also expressed optimism that de-scheduling the drug could prove beneficial in treating veterans with PTSD, something currently prohibited by the Veterans Affairs health care system.
"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," they said. "There are numerous other patient groups in America whose quality of life has been dramatically improved by the state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis."
"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," Boehner and Weld added.