Former House Speaker Boehner ‘has evolved’ on marijuana

The Speaker talks with CNN

COLUMBUS, OH — John Boehner is heading for the boardroom of a cannabis company, the former Speaker of the House announced Wednesday.

“I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved,” the Ohio Republican tweeted. ” 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, who served as Speaker from 2011 until his resignation from Congress in 2015, was appointed to the board of advisers at Acreage Holdings, a multi-state cannabis business that aims to “make cannabis available to any patient who can benefit from safe and reliable access.”

His decision to join the board is a marked shift — in 2009, Boehner said he was “unalterably opposed” to legalization, according to Bloomberg.

Former Republican Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is also joining the board. The two said in a joint statement that they believe “the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy,” specifically citing the drug’s use by veterans “to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments.”

“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,” they wrote.

The Republican politicians’ appointments to the cannabis company come as the current Republican administration has cracked down on state-level marijuana regulations. In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a trio of memos from the Obama administration that had adopted a policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws.

The move essentially shifts federal policy from the hands-off approach adopted under the previous administration to unleashing federal prosecutors across the country to decide individually how to prioritize resources to crack down on pot possession, distribution and cultivation of the drug in states where it is legal.