File this under “Stories I never thought I’d be writing in my journalism career.”
Former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, was previously opposed to any and all types of marijuana reform when he served in the U.S. Congress. He vocally opposed marijuana legalization, having said in 2011 that he was “unalterably opposed” to it.
A lot seems to have changed for Boehner in the last seven years, because on Wednesday he announced that his thinking on cannabis “has evolved,” and he is now joining the board of a cannabis company.
“I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved,” Boehner wrote on his personal Twitter account. “I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”
Of course, when I read this, I couldn’t help thinking that Boehner has got to be in this for the money. Why else would it take him this long to come to the realization that this has been the argument for legalizing medical marijuana for a while now? This has to be a cash grab, right? Right.
I looked up Acreage Holdings. It is “one of the nation’s largest, multistate actively managed cannabis corporations.” The company owns cannabis licenses and assets in states where either medical marijuana or adult recreational marijuana is legal.
Up until March 13 of this year, the company—which was founded in 2014—was known as High Street Capital Partners LLC, and it was founded specifically to profit from the marijuana industry through cultivation, processing and dispensaries.
From PR Newswire:
Within the 11 states that Acreage Holdings currently operates, cannabis is expected to represent $9 billion of retail revenue by 2020. Acreage Holdings is keenly focused on expanding its footprint and continuing acquisitions, with aspirations to become the dominant national platform in the space.
So, yes. Money grab.
Fortune reports that after Boehner made his announcement, there were notable spikes in some prominent marijuana stocks.
Too bad Boehner waited so long to come to this conclusion. From 2011 to 2015, or while Boehner was still in office, Quartz reports, some 420,000 people were arrested for marijuana sales and trafficking in the United States.
It’s important to remember who is allowed to profit from the legalized marijuana industry and who is still suffering from the criminalization of it.
But, “Go, Boehner,” I guess?