U.S. former House Speaker John Boehner announcing on Wednesday that he will be joining an advisory board for Acreage Holdings, a cannabis company, together with the former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, has created mixed reactions.
Social justice advocates described Boehnver’s appointment as mere double standards while businesses and pragmatic analysts welcomed the former House Speaker’s change of heart.
The Republican Boehner, who was a House Speaker from 2011 till 2015, was staunchly and unapologetically anti-marijuana but said that his stance on marijuana has “evolved.”
Soon after his announcement, some observers unleashed their furry.
Washington-based website Quartz said Boehner, who was “one of the most powerful people in national politics,” had 420,000 people arrested in the U.S. for marijuana sales and trafficking during his time as Speaker of the House.
Quartz criticized Boehner for wanting to “earn money from the enterprise” as the trend to legalize marijuana continues unabated in the United States despite a clampdown by the federal government in early January to reverse the pro-pot fast wind.
Is Boehner an Opportunist?
On Twitter, Americans including some prominent ones lashed out over what they perceived as double standards, highlighting social and justice an issue.
Cynthia Nixon, who is pushing to see marijuana being fully legalized in New York as she is currently campaigning in hopes to be the next Democratic governor of the state, criticized Boehner.
“Now that public opinion has shifted on marijuana, rich white men like Boehner and companies like Monsanto are trying to cash in,” she said.
Monsanto, is an agribusiness giant, which was part of an internet hoax story in 2015, that it was creating a GMO cannabis, an accusation the company dismissed many times. Maybe Nixon needs to update her information.
But she continued, making a very valid point.
“We can’t let them rake in profits while thousands of people, mostly people of color, continue to sit in jail for possession and use.”
Mat Johnson, a U.S. singer-songwriter, echoed her stance on Twitter.
Johnson, who also described himself as “fierce paladin for social justice and the environment,” said:
“Every single person in jail on cannabis-related charges should be freed and compensated for time/legal fees before people like Boehner can cash in on weed.”
Businesses, Analysts Welcome Boehner’s Move
However, others welcomed the move.
Vahan Ajamian, an analyst at Beacon Securities Ltd., told Bloomberg on Wednesday that Boehner’s appointment was a “monumental event for the U.S. cannabis sector.”
Ajamian said Boehner‘s and Weld’s appointments “should send shockwaves throughout the industry and act as a positive catalyst for the sector as a whole.”
Beacon Securities further described Boehner’s appointment as a “bombshell” that may help “legitimize” the sector and generate investor interest.
After the buzz over Canada’s marijuana legalization fades, Ajamian believes U.S. cannabis producers “represent the next wave of outsized returns for investors.”
Beth Stavola, chief operating officer and president of U.S. operations for MPX Bioceuticals Corp., a Toronto-headquartered company with operations in Nevada, Arizona and Massachusetts, was happy.
She said: “It put a smile on my face this morning.”
“With someone as conservative as John Boehner jumping in, it’s just such a positive thing for the industry.”
Hadley Ford, chief executive of iAnthus Capital Holdings Inc., which is listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange and headquartered in New York, told the Financial Post that:
“It’s a huge signal that the amount of risk around the industry is becoming much less.”
Ford added: “We’d anticipate a lot of professional companies and regulators north and south of the border would be much more comfortable providing their services, whether that’s banking, legal, accounting and the like.”
Does Boehner New Change?
Nobody knows the truth about Boehner’s drastic change, maybe he is like other Americans or Canadians, who are experiencing a completely new way of how they perceive the green herb.
“Over the last 10 or 15 years, the American people’s attitudes have changed dramatically,” Boehner said in an interview. “I find myself in that same position.”
Maybe the incident when his Jamaican-born son-in-law, who was once arrested on a misdemeanor marijuana charge in 2013, was the trigger that catapulted the change in him.
In the end, we don’t know, but what we know for sure that we are living in a time of great change.
Last week, the federal government itself said it needs input and comments from “interested persons” over medical marijuana ahead of a meeting with the U.N. agency, the World Health Organization.