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Ex-Speaker John Boehner Joins Marijuana Firm’s Advisory Board

The U.S. marijuana industry has a new spokesman: John Boehner.

The Republican former Speaker of the House has joined the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a company that cultivates, processes and dispenses cannabis in 11 U.S. states. Boehner’s endorsement, after saying nine years ago he was “unalterably opposed” to legalization, could be considered a watershed event: Marijuana has gone mainstream.

John Boehner

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” he said in an interview. “I find myself in that same position.”

Sixty-four percent of Americans, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats, want to legalize it, according to an October Gallup survey. That’s the most since the pollster began asking the question in 1969, when 12 percent of the population favored legalization.

Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld will join Boehner on the advisory board of Acreage, which holds 35 licenses for cannabis businesses in the U.S. Boehner, 68, was first elected to the House of Representatives from Southwest Ohio in 1990. He was Speaker from 2011 to 2015, when he resigned amid problems with an increasingly fractious Republican caucus.

Since then, he’s served as a board member for tobacco company Reynolds American Inc. and adviser for global law firm Squire Patton Boggs US LLP. Weld, 72, who was governor from 1991 to 1997, was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice president in 2016.

‘Immensely Positive’

“We view this advocacy that we get from these two gentlemen as immensely positive for the industry,” said George Allen, Acreage’s president.

The politicians are a sign of a watershed moment for the industry, according to Vahan Ajamian, an analyst at Beacon Securities Ltd.

“It is difficult to overstate the impact of this monumental event for the U.S. cannabis sector,” he said in a note Wednesday after Bloomberg broke the news.

The two former Republican politicians join Acreage as current officeholders vacillate on their support for weed. President Donald Trump has gone back and forth, while Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a longtime opponent. The Justice Department in January rescinded the Obama-era policies that allowed state legal pot markets to flourish.

William Weld

Photographer: Sergio Flores/Bloomberg

Both Boehner and Weld say they’ve never tried the drug, but adult recreational use is legal in nine states and Washington, D.C. That means more than one in five American adults can partake. Twenty additional states allow for some form of medical marijuana. The legal market is expected to reach $75 billion by 2030, according to the investment bank Cowen & Co.

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