John Boehner, a former Ohio Republican is one of the most vocal advocates in the GOP for marijuana legalization today. In an interview for NPR’s All things considered, Boehner told Michel Martin, “I’ve never used the product. I really have no plans to use the product. But if other people have used the product, who am I to say they shouldn’t?”
His subtle embrace for cannabis legalization has been notedly remarkable as Boehner since his time in Congress in 1999, exercised his one and only vote to prohibit medical marijuana in Washington D.C. IN 2011, Boehner wrote a constituent to say that he was “unalterably opposed to legalization of marijuana”.
However, Boehner now speaks in the motion of the legalization and seconds the idea.”It’s clear this market is going to expand. And as it does, lawmakers in Washington have to look up and realize that the federal government is way out of step,” Boehner said from the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. “It’s time for the federal government to get out of the way.”
Boehner left National Politics in 2015 and joined the board of Acreage Holdings, a publicly traded, multistate cannabis company based in New York. Acreage, though small as compared to other Cannabis growers, reported fourth-quarter revenue of $10.5 million and full-year sales of $21.1 million up 17% over the last 12 months.
Acreage CEO Kevin Murphy joined Boehner and added, he is quite optimistic that both, Republicans and Democrats will pass the STATES Act in 2019. The Act, proposed by, Sens. Cory Gardner and Elizabeth Warren, would empower each state to decide for their residents whether they can legally possess, manufacture and sell cannabis without any federal intervention.
“We’re hopeful that we can appeal to both the left and the right,” Murphy said. “Ninety-five percent of this country would like to be using cannabis or believe it should be used for medical use. And with those types of numbers, we think we appeal to both the right and the left. From our vantage point, it’s just a matter of time.”
Michigan in November became one of the latest states to accept and legalize cannabis for recreational purposes. New Jersey officials outlined plans to legalize cannabis for adults only for the purpose of recreational usage on Tuesday. While marijuana remains illegal in the federal level in the United States, 10 states and District Of Columbia have allowed its use for recreational purposes.
Support for legalization of cannabis has been increasing exponentially every single year. With 66% survey respondents supporting the marijuana legalization, this year has been marked the highest in terms of support for the cause.
Boehner also said that the Food and Drug Administration should reconsider marijuana’s classification as Schedule I drug which puts it in the same category as Heroin, LSD and other severe drugs. Marijuana possess significant health benefits which could turn around the face of the Food and Drug industry.
“It can be used to excess, and likely will,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that we should take wine or liquor off the market, or beer or cigarettes for that matter. And I do think that by decriminalizing, you’re going to open up a lot more research so we can learn more about the 4,000 year history of the use of this plant.”
Boehner tells sources that his shift from being in opposition to the whole idea to supporting it has a lot to do with his talks with veterans. He said that these veterans had turned to marijuana to ease their suffering pain or post-traumatic stress disorder. “I started to reach out to some of my friends, neighbors and others,” Boehner said. “And I thought, ‘You know, there’s more interest in this than I would have guessed.’ “