Politics

Boehner Joins Marijuana Board After Years of Opposition to Legalization

Hopes to reverse opioid epidemic

Former House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, joined the board of a cannabis corporation. (Tom Williams/Roll Call via Getty Images file photo)

When it comes to marijuana, former Speaker John A. Boehner has gone from “hell no you can’t” to supporting the board of a cannabis corporation.

Acreage Holdings, which calls itself “one of the nation’s largest, multi-state actively-managed cannabis corporations” announced the former speaker joined the company’s board of advisers.

The move reflects a shift in Boehner’s sentiments about marijuana from when he was in Congress.

In 2007, Boehner voted against a failed amendment that would have prohibited the Justice Department from using money to stop states that had enacted legalized marijuana.

Similarly, in 2011, Boehner said, “I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug. I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol” in response to an inquiry from a member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Boehner himself is no stranger to vices, having been vocal about his love of cigarettes and red wine.

In 2016, Boehner joined the board of Reynolds American Inc., which makes his preferred brand of Camel cigarettes.

But in a tweet, Boehner said his views on marijuana had “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,” he tweeted.

In a statement, Boehner explained that his shift on marijuana was motivated by seeing veterans affected by the opioid epidemic. Descheduling marijuana could help mitigate the crisis, he said.

“I have concluded descheduling the drug is needed so that we can do research and allow the VA to offer it as a treatment option,” he said.

Boehner also said the 10th Amendment of the Constitution allows for states to administer their own marijuana programs but they need support from the federal government.

“Descheduling will reduce the conflict between federal policy and state programs. This will permit research and testing from federally funded institutions and allow the VA to use it as a treatment option,” he said.

Boehner resigned from Congress in 2015 after serving as speaker from 2011.

Wach: A Look Back at Paul Ryan’s Career in the House

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.