Former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Wednesday that he joined the board of Acreage Holdings, a New York-based multistate organization dedicated to the legalization of marijuana.
Boehner, who left the House in 2015, said he had changed his long-held opposition to the legalization of marijuana.
“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” Boehner said. “I find myself in that same position.”
The 68-year-old Ohio Republican said he would promote nationwide legalization as a means to help veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and fight America's opioid crisis.
"I decided to get involved because of the struggles of our country's veterans and the opioid epidemic, after learning how descheduling the drug can potentially help with both crises," Boehner said.
In addition to Boehner, Bill Weld, a former Massachusetts governor and Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate, will have a seat on the company's board of directors.
Boehner and Weld released a joint statement.
"While we come at this issue from different perspectives and track records, we both believe the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy. Over the past 20 years a growing number of states have experimented with their right to offer cannabis programs under the protection of the 10th amendment. During that period, those rights have lived somewhat in a state of conflict with federal policy. Also, during this period, the public perception of cannabis has dramatically shifted, with 94% of Americans currently in favor of some type of access, a shift driven by increased awareness of marijuana’s many medical applications.
We need to look no further than our nation's 20 million veterans, 20 percent of whom, according to a 2017 American Legion survey, reportedly use cannabis to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain and other ailments. Yet the VA does not allow its doctors to recommend its usage. There are numerous other patient groups in America whose quality of life has been dramatically improved by the state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis," the statement read in part.
Recreational marijuana use is legal in nine states, and Washington ,D.C. ,and 20 states allow some form of medical marijuana.
Federal laws still prohibit the use of marijuana.
The Drug Enforcement Agency classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone (hypnotic sedative), and peyote (hallucinogen).
Boehner and Weld both told Bloomberg they have never tried marijuana.
Boehner, a cigarette smoker, briefly served on the board of Reynolds American tobacco company after he retired from politics.