John Boehner is now an unexpected ally in the fight for legal weed. The Republican, who served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives between 2011 and 2015, joined the board of advisors for Acreage Holdings, a company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 states.
Seven years ago, Boehner said he was "unalterably opposed" to legalizing marijuana. On Wednesday, he tweeted that his opinion on the issue "evolved" over the years. "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 wrote, linking a news release about joining the company.
"Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people's attitudes have changed dramatically," Boehner told Bloomberg. "I find myself in that same position." Indeed, an October Gallup poll found that 64 percent of Americans – including a majority of both major parties – are in favor of legalization.
Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, a longtime Republican who ran as a Libertarian alongside Gary Johnson in the 2016 presidential election, is also joining Acreage Holdings as an advisor. Boehner and Weld agreed to immediately join the Board of Advisors and committed to join the Board of Directors once officially formed. In a joint statement, they spoke out against marijuana's federal classification as a "schedule 1" drug – a category for substances with the highest abuse or dependency potential, alongside heroin.
"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, citing marijuana's "many medical applications" – including treatment for "PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments."