Sure, 420 Money Helped Inspire John Boehner’s Belated Cannabis 180, but It’s Still Worth Applauding
Hundreds of thousands of Americans were locked up for being in the business the former speaker of the House is now in for himself.
After years of being “unalterably opposed” to the legalization of cannabis, former Republican speaker of the House and Ohio congressman John Boehner has changed his mind.
Earlier today, Boehner said “my thinking on cannabis has evolved” and announced his new role on the board of advisers of a large if little-known American cannabis company called Acreage Holdings, previously known as High Street Capital Partners, which holds plant-touching licenses in 11 U.S. states. Acreage also announced that former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld will join its board of advisers, and both Boehner and Weld have committed to join Acreage’s board of directors once it is formed.
While Boehner’s dramatic about-face on the subject of legalization is an undeniable win for the legalization movement, it also shows how complicated progress is for a movement that has been fighting for sensible drug policy for decades and only witnessed adult-use legislation in the last six years.
As speaker of the House, Boehner fought legalization tooth and nail, writing to one constituent in 2011, “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.” As Quartz reported this morning, more than 400,000 Americans were arrested for selling and trafficking marijuana between 2011 and 2015, when Boehner served as one of D.C.’s most powerful politicians.
But now that Boehner—who stepped down as speaker and resigned from office in 2015—is no longer one of D.C.’s most powerful politicians, he has apparently come around to the idea that legalization is the right path forward for America and the rest of the world. And not only does Boehner support reforming drug laws, he’s actually advocating for descheduling cannabis, a distinction worth pointing out as many prominent Democrats still only support the rescheduling of marijuana from its current (and absurd) position as a Schedule I substance.
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