If marijuana legalization is going to take hold in the United States like alcohol and tobacco, then it must be represented in Washington the same as other inebriation industries have done for decades. The cannabis industry seems to finally get this concept, and it is now in a position to be taken seriously on Capitol Hill rather than be the butt of constant jokes and jabs. The seriousness of this issue can be only more solidified now that one of their own is on the other side of the table.
Former House Speaker John Boehner, who joined the board of a medical marijuana company last year called Acreage Holdings, has been named the honorary chairman for the new pot lobby group the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR). This organization, which is said to be heavily funded by the cannabis industry, is on a mission to legalize marijuana for veterans and further research on the herb that prevents it from being recognized as a legitimate medicine under the parlance U.S. standards.
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“The states have led on this,” Boehner told reporters on Friday. “The federal government is lagging behind.”
Although more than half the nation has legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, the U.S. government still considers it a Schedule I narcotic. This makes it difficult for scientific minds to dig deeper into the therapeutic possibilities of the substance, and allows it to touted as a cure for severe conditions, like cancer, without substantiated evidence. Still, there is a body of anecdotal evidence out there that suggests the herb could be beneficial in the treatment of a variety of conditions. But without extensive research, the truth of its effectiveness may never be revealed.
Boehner, whose company Acreage Holdings produced the medical marijuana ad that was rejected for Super Bowl LIII, admits that he will not be a registered lobbyist for the organization but he will provide guidance for the NCR team.
Interestingly, the former House Speaker spent his entire political career opposing marijuana reform. It wasn’t until recently that he said his “thinking on cannabis has evolved.”
In additional to fighting for medical marijuana, the NCR will also work to further the ability for banks to do business with marijuana businesses and for states to have the right to legalize the leaf without federal interference.
“As the cannabis industry grows and matures, it’s vital that we work together for a common-sense legal framework for cannabis policy,” Boehner said in a press release.
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The National Cannabis Roundtable is not the only cannabis lobby group working to change the minds of Congress.
Earlier this month, the Cannabis Trade Federation revealed the addition of 15 lobbyists in Washington pushing to get more lawmakers behind the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States (STATES) Act. The goal is this organization is to take pot reform to the next level the most straightforward way it can by getting lawmakers on board with a bill that President Trump has indicated he would sign.
It remains uncertain whether these two lobby groups will work together in any capacity to further likeminded agendas, or whether they will do as the cannabis movement has done for decades and get in each other’s way.