John Boehner rejected marijuana legalization when he was the speaker of the US House of Representatives. Today, he is a pot advocate.
The former Republican US representative from Ohio announced Wednesday that he is joining the board of Acreage Holdings, a company that grows and sells marijuana in 11 states.
Boehner’s conversion is a dramatic example of the American public’s changing views on marijuana. The share of Americans who favor pot legalization surpassed 60% in 2017, up from 32% in 2010 and 16% ten years earlier.
Boehner, who served in Congress from 1991 to 2015, said in an interview with Bloomberg that he started thinking differently about pot after seeing how it helped a friend deal with debilitating back pain. The drug’s potential for helping treat veterans and reducing jail populations also helped change his mind.
“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 your head,” Boehner told the news outlet. “We have literally filled up our jails with people who are nonviolent and frankly do not belong there.”
Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld is also joining Acreage’s board.
Acreage chief executive Kevin Murphy said the two new board members will help make the case for legalizing pot “by changing the conversation overnight.”