Former House Speaker John Boehner announced Wednesday his newest post-congressional venture: the advisory board of a marijuana corporation.
Boehner, along with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, will join the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a “multi-state owner of cannabis licenses” headquartered in New York City.
Bloomberg, which first reported Boehner’s new role Wednesday, noted that Boehner said he was “unalterably opposed” to marijuana legalization nine years ago.
“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.”
In a joint statement Wednesday with Weld, Boehner cited how the “protection of the 10th amendment” that “allowed much to occur at the state level” has not resolved the “many negative implications” of federally classifying marijuana as a schedule one drug.
Despite his new role, Boehner told Bloomberg he’s never tried marijuana. He said his change of heart came when he saw how it helped a close friend deal with debilitating back pain, noticed its potential use as “a treatment for veterans” and how he’s been “studying the problems of the U.S. criminal justice system for years.”
“When you look at the number of people in our state and federal penitentiaries, who are there for possession of small amounts of cannabis, you begin to really scratch your head,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”
Asked about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent move to roll back Obama-era policies allowing state legal marijuana markets to flourish, Boehner said he “almost chuckled to [himself].”
“I don’t know why they decided to do this,” Boehner told Bloomberg. “It could be that the attorney general is trying to force the Congress to act.”
Boehner hopes that his background in politics will help Acreage Holdings navigate “murky legal issues.”
“We’re there to provide advice to Acreage in terms of how they work with state and federal governments, how they work with local governments and advice on what states look promising,” Boehner told Bloomberg.
Bloomberg notes that neither Boehner nor Weld have made a financial investment in Acreage.
Boehner isn’t a stranger to serving on corporate advisor boards. He previously served as a board member for tobacco company Reynolds American Inc. and adviser for global firm Squire Patton Boggs US LLP.
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