April 11, 2018
Melissa Schiller

The cannabis industry may just have added an unlikely ally.

Former Speaker of the House (and former marijuana prohibitionist) John Boehner, as well as former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, have been appointed to the advisory board for multi-state cannabis corporation Acreage Holdings, sending shockwaves through the industry and creating optimism that the appointments will help drive marijuana policy reform.

“We were excited to see Acreage’s announcement this morning that Speaker Boehner and Governor Weld will be joining Acreage’s board and believe that the state-legal cannabis industry just got two powerful allies,” said David Feuerstein, co-founder and partner at cannabis law firm Feuerstein Kulick LLP. “We know the Acreage team to be great industry leaders and are optimistic that with their new advisory board, Acreage can help lead the way for commonsense reform at the federal level.”

“Boehner joining Acreage is a step in the right direction both for him and also for the industry,” added Arnaud Dumas de Rauly, chief strategy officer for The Blinc Group, a distribution-centric vapor and cannabis incubator. “This board seat is also symbolic on a few levels. First and foremost, seeing an eminent GOP leader stick his neck out and endorsing our industry proves once again that marijuana can bridge both sides of the aisle. Second, this position and its aura for Acreage will bring a whole new dimension to federal lobbying.”

As members of Acreage Holdings’ Board of Advisors, Boehner and 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,” according to a company press release.

“Acreage has a mission to make cannabis available to any patient who can benefit from safe and reliable access,” Acreage Holdings’ CEO Kevin Murphy said, in the press release. “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.”

Robert Fireman, CEO of MariMed Inc., a vertically-integrated cannabis producer, applauded Acreage Holdings’ decision to add Boehner to its advisory board, saying, “The appointment of former House Speaker John Boehner to the Acreage Holdings Advisory Board is a smart and game changing validation of cannabis’ future promise and value to human health and the wellness of the American public.”

Boehner’s position on the advisory board is a fundamental shift from his former stance as a marijuana prohibitionist. Nine years ago, he stated that he was “unalterably  opposed” to legalization, according to a Financial Post report. Even as recently as 2015, Boehner reiterated his opposition to the legalization of “marijuana or other FDA Schedule I drugs.”

“It’s encouraging to see that Boehner’s views on cannabis are evolving, especially given the nationwide trend towards increased support for legalization,” said Wil Ralston, president of SinglePoint, a publicly-traded cannabis and technology holding company. “With time, we’ll likely see more elected officials come out in strong support of de-scheduling the plant, to the benefit of medical patients, communities and taxpayers alike.”

Top Image: © Terra Eclipse | Wikimedia

Read the rest of the full Cannabis Business Times article here.