Former Speaker of the House John Boehner says his “primary purpose for getting involved in this was to advance the cause of medical marijuana.” Do you believe him?
We’ll file these public statements under the “Yeah, sure” category for former Speaker of the House John Boehner. Once “unalterably opposed” to cannabis, Boehner has become a leading face of the nascent cannabis industry. He sits on the board at Acreage Holdings and was involved with a keynote presentation at South by Southwest around legalization. Canada’s leading marijuana producer Canopy Growth acquired Acreage earlier this year, in a deal that potentially netted Boehner millions — close to $20 million, to be exact.
But in a new interview with Politico, Boehner says his change of heart around marijuana policy had nothing to do with the money.
“My primary purpose for getting involved in this was to advance the cause of medical marijuana. Yes, I do get paid. I am on the board of Acreage Holdings,” Boehner said. “But I know what my motivations are, and I’ve tried to make that clear. I can understand why some people would look at it and say, ‘Oh, you’re just cashing in.’ They’re entitled to their opinion.”
Boehner explained that he personally researched marijuana’s medical efficacy, which led to his newfound passion. He discovered that we “got veterans that have all kinds of needs that aren’t being met,” as well as individuals suffering from “anxiety issues or sleep issues,” in addition to “chronic pain issues.”
“I knew when I came out, that was going to be a statement and make news, but I’m really glad I did it,” he said.
Boehner’s ability to make news in the cannabis world will be put to the test in the coming years. As the New York Times reports, the deal between Canopy and Acreage is contingent upon Boehner’s old Congressional connections. “The takeover will not happen without substantial changes in marijuana policy, leaving it up to Mr. Boehner and his team of lobbyists to work their magic in Washington,” reports the Times.
How unsurprising then were Boehner’s comments to Politico around Congress enacting marijuana legislation this election cycle. The former Speaker was encouraged and believes “more and more members [of Congress] are hearing from their constituents about the need to get the federal government out of the way.
“You have a lot of Democrats who were already there,” Boehner said. “But many Republicans are starting to come on board, as they see this dichotomy between what’s going on in their own states and how the federal government continues to stand in the way.”
Should Boehner not get those Republicans on board in time to close the Acreage deal, it’ll be curious if he remains such a fierce cannabis advocate on Capitol Hill. We’ll remind you that his “primary purpose for getting involved in this was to advance the cause of medical marijuana.” Let’s see him put his money where his mouth is.