John Boehner will join the board of a cannabis company, the former Speaker of the House announced on Twitter Wednesday.
“I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved,” Boehner 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 served in the United States House of Representatives from 1991 until 2015. During the last four years of his time in Congress, Boehner served as the Speaker of the House.
Boehner has not seemed entirely comfortable with retirement but joining Acreage Holdings came as a surprise to many. According to the company’s website, Acreage’s mission “is to become the world’s leading cannabis company, bringing safe, affordable cannabis to everyone who needs it.”
During his time in Congress Boehner was vehemently opposed to cannabis reform. “I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug. I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol,” Boehner said in 2011 according to NORML.
So far, there is no word on whether or not Boehner’s “evolution” extends to criminal justice reform or expunging the records of those convicted of cannabis possession. During Boehner’s time as Speaker of the House, 420,000 individuals were arrested for cannabis possession and sales.
Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is also joining Acreage’s board. In a joint statement, Boehner and Weld said “the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy,” and that veterans should have the right to “to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain, and other ailments.”
The statement applauded state legal reforms but challenged federal authorities to do more.
“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,” the statement read.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo, a key protection against federal prosecution for businesses and patients abiding by state law. Could a high profile conservative such as Boehner joining a cannabis company make Sessions rethink his mission to dismantle the industry?