Posted on April 18 2018
Wednesday, John Boehner (Speaker of the House from 2011 to 2015) announced that he would be joining the advisory board for Acreage Holdings, effective immediately.
Acreage Holdings, formerly known as High Street Capital Partners, operates dispensaries, grow-ops and processing plants through 11 different states, while also being a big pawn in the policy changes surrounding medicinal cannabis. Changing their name in March and making some big shifts in their management has some looking at this large company with curious eyes. John Boehner's addition to the team has surely sparked some questions from both civilians and even other politicians.
Mr. Boehner's willingness to join a company that works with such a "controversial" product comes as a surprise to most of us, seeing how Mr. Boehner has been rather open about his negative feelings towards Cannabis throughout his political career. He voted against a ballot initiative to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana in 1999 and continued to take a strong stance on the issue throughout his political career. In 2011 when first elected to Speaker of the House he said he was still "unalterably opposed" to legalization in any form.
Mr. Boehner's previous stand on Cannabis kept in line with the standard Republican party vote, to not decriminalize cannabis products. The Gallup Poll today still shows that only 43% of Republicans agree with legalization compared to the 67% of Democrats. Some believe that this new stance would put him more in line with a younger Republican audiences and allow him to remain in the political spotlight. Others believe that his "evolved thinking on Cannabis" has come about solely for monetary gain.
Cynthia Nixon who is currently running for Governor of NYC, released a video shortly after Boehner's announcement on Wednesday citing her personal standpoint on Cannabis. The former Sex in the City star proclaims her belief in legalizing both recreational and medicinal cannabis while also stating how legalization would "mitigate racial disparities in marijuana arrest rates". However, her direct response to Boehner was through a tweet that shared a disapproval of white business men who are now capitalizing on the Marijuana industry while people of color and lower incomes continue to serve jail time for the same actions.
Another outspoken opponent of Boehner's new job role was Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project. Fox believes that although this is a step in the right direction for Mr. Boehner he still has a lot more influence he could wield. "He should be actively working to reform federal marijuana laws to allow states to determine their own policies, rather than consulting with a business to navigate conflicts between federal and state." Morgan also shared that Boehner's previous political positions slowed progress in the industry and that he should use every bit of influence he has to exonerate those who were put in jail for the same thing he is now taking part in--the growth, manufacturing and distribution of Cannabis.
When asked directly about his evolved views on marijuana the new Acreage advisor stated "I'm convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our communities." He also mentioned in an interview with Bloomberg that he experienced a close friend using medicinal cannabis to treat back pain, which also altered his views and ideas on the issue. He remains adamant that he has never tried Cannabis in any form and sticks to his two vices of cigarettes and red wine.
The way I see it, this is just another sign of the times. More of those who opposed cannabis reform are now becoming properly educated on the matter and are beginning to understand the value it can bring them. I suppose, regardless of the "why", this is now another high powered public figure who can hopefully use his platform to continue the education and legalization of Cannabis and its uses. As far as his other un-evolved standpoints such as Anti-LGBT and Pro-Life, I supposed we will just have to hope for another Boehner wake up call.
Ziggy is a budding cannabis aficionado and patient specialist in her newly legal state of Maryland. She recently began blogging for GreenGoddessSupply.com and spends her free time attending cannabis policy meetings and hiking with her dog. Find more of her attitude and day to day shenanigans on Instagram @stickyziggy