Boehner joins fight to loosen marijuana laws saying his thinking has 'evolved'

The former Speaker has joined the advisory board of large cannabis corporation.

In a joint statement released Wednesday Boehner, who served as Speaker from 2011 to 2015, and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, cited the recent experimentation by a number of U.S. states that have changed their marijuana laws in recent years as part of the reason for their decision.

"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," Weld and Boehner wrote, "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."

"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," they wrote, "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."

Kevin Murphy, the Founder and CEO of Acreage Holdings, which owns cannabis cultivation, processing and dispensary operations in 11 states, said the addition of Boehner and Weld changes the conversation about marijuana policy "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," Murphy wrote in a statement Wednesday.

The move from Boehner is a significant shift for the Ohio Republican, who just nine years ago said he was "unalterably opposed" to the legalization of marijuana, according to Bloomberg.

Since his abrupt exit from Congress in 2015, Boehner has kept a relatively low profile, but during his days in Congress he made his penchant for wine well-known.

"I don't know about a Slurpee. How about a glass of merlot?" Boehner said.