Boehner, Weld Join Cannabis Company Advisory Board
No, your weed isn’t laced with PCP and this is definitely not an article written by the onion.
Former US House Speaker John Boehner has completely flip-flopped (as he was so fond of saying at one time) in regards to his views on the legalization of cannabis. Wait for it… Boehner has announced that he will be joining the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a CANNABIS COMPANY operating in 11 states. The announcement, issued April 11 by Acreage Holdings, said, “As members of the Board, Speaker Boehner and Governor Weld will bring an immense, collective and unique set of experiences in government affairs, unmatched leadership and guidance to help drive Acreage towards its strategic mission.”
Acreage Holdings founder and CEO Kevin Murphy said in the statement, “Acreage has a mission to make cannabis available to any patient who can benefit from safe and reliable access. The addition of Speaker Boehner and Governor Weld to our Board will lead to even greater access for patients by changing the conversation overnight. These men have shaped the political course of our country for decades and now they will help shape the course of this nascent but ascendant industry.”
One wonders where Murphy has been over the last fifteen years… does he even know who Boehner is? Does he know how many people were incarcerated in this country during the time Boehner held power and had a “different” view on cannabis. As recently as 2009, Boehner had indicated that he was “unalterably opposed” to legalization. In an interview this week, Boehner was quoted as saying, “Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically. I find myself in the same position.”
Boehner also said, ““When it comes to an issue like this, that has what I’ll call murky legal issues and political 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.” This is old, white, politician speak for “I’m not in government anymore, how do I get as rich as I can as fast as I can?”
According to an article posted in The Cannabist, 64% of Americans support legalization of cannabis. This is the highest that number has been since the question was first posed in 1969, when the response from the public was that 12% favored legalization. (That number has grown steadily and significantly in recent years.)
In addition to Boehner, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, will also be joining the advisory board. The company currently holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses, including cultivation, processing, and dispensing across the 11 states in which they operate. Acreage Holdings President George Allen said of the two new members, “We view this advocacy that we get form these two gentlemen as immensely positive for the industry.”
Neither Weld nor Boehner admit to ever having used cannabis, and say that they have never tried it (Come on! Those glazed eyes during all the State of the Union addresses? Really Boehner? You didn’t inhale?) They issued a joint statement (pun intended), saying that they believe that “the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy,” specifically citing the use of cannabis by veterans to “self-treat PTSD, chronic pain, and other ailments.” They also said, “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.” No joke there, that is a true, and sad, fact.
However, this comes at an interesting time in the fight to legalize cannabis across the US. Currently, recreational use (by adults) is legal in nine states as well as Washington D.C. Twenty additional states allow for some form of medical usage. The current total cannabis market is worth billions, and has provided significant increases in tax revenue to the states in which it is legal. The Cannabist article reports that investment bank Cowen & Co. has estimated that the total market could grow to $75 billion by 2030. This all stands in stark contrast to the current federal standing of the cannabis, which remains illegal and is classified as a Schedule I drug per the CSA.
Weld made comments that stand in stark contrast with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ view of marijuana use, saying that there are benefits and that his “belief in the functionality of the drug has grown,” saying, “Cannabis could be perceived as an exit drug, not a gateway drug,” in reference to the current opioid epidemic sweeping the nation. Many people have posited that cannabis could help those suffering from addiction, and in fact, states that have legalized cannabis have shown reductions in the number of opioid-related overdoses and deaths.
Boehner echoed Weld’s sentiments, saying that his perspective on cannabis changed after he saw it help a friend who suffered from chronic back pain, as well as evaluating the potential for use with veterans. In addition, Boehner has been involved in the study of the criminal justice system for years, saying, “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 you head. We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”
Both men agree that the argument for legalization hinges on the 10th Amendment, which provides for states rights and allows states to make decisions about such matters as cannabis. As both men have years of experience in politics, on the state and national level, they may be able to provide additional insight in how to address the issues currently facing the cannabis industry, in particular, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his reversal of several Obama-era policies such as the infamous Cole Memo, which provided protections for the cannabis industries.
Referring to Sessions’ January 4th memo retracting those protections, Boehner said, “When I saw the announcement, I almost chuckled to myself. I don’t know why they decided to do this. it could be that the attorney general is trying to force the Congress to act.”
The Rodman Law Group finds this to be an interesting and perhaps incredibly accurate perspective, and absolutely agrees that Congress should take action to protect the industry. As we’ve said before, we believe that for a President who ran on an economic platform to ignore not only the medical efficacy of this plant, but also the potential for increased tax revenue, would be detrimental to the economic security of the states and the country as a whole. In fact, if Sessions does not want to have his legacy be legalization of cannabis, perhaps forcing Congress to act to ultimately legalize cannabis on the federal level might just be the ultimate Jedi mind trick.
Read more here.
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