On Wednesday, Former US House Speaker John Boehner announced that he now supports marijuana legalization as a way of helping Veterans and fighting the nation’s deadly opioid crisis. The Republican from Ohio served as the Speaker of the US House from 2011 to 2015.
Mr. Boehner posted the following on Twitter:
“I’m joining the board of #AcreageHoldings because my thinking on cannabis has evolved. 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.”
The former Congressman is calling for the declassification of marijuana as a schedule 1 drug which creates barriers to federally-funded research and use by the Department of Veterans Affairs. A schedule 1 drug is described as a substance with “little to no health use and a high potential for abuse”. Cannabis advocates argue against the logic of keeping the plant in the same category as dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
In a joint statement, Boehner and Weld explained, “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.”
Mr. Boehner has joined the advisory board of a large cannabis company which will also include former Republican Governor of California, William Weld. The former speaker is calling for federally funded research and legislation that would allow the VA to prescribe marijuana as an alternative to opioids for multiple medical conditions including PTSD. Recent studies indicate that THC, the primary component in the cannabis plant can help with the disorder and that legal states boast a significant decrease in opioid overdoses.
The legalization movement’s unexpected ally provides a powerful boost to its growing trend of popular support, a recent poll by Gallup found a shocking 64% of US respondents support the initiative while even more shocking is that more than half of Republicans surveyed expressed support.
“I decided to get involved because of the struggles of our country’s veterans and the opioid epidemic, after learning how de-scheduling the drug can potentially help with both crises,” said Boehner, 68.
States are also looking at legalization as a new way of raising revenue. In 2017, Colorado passed the $500 million milestone for revenue received through taxes and fees on cannabis products. Currently, more than half of US states plus Washington, DC allow marijuana use in some form with several states holding marijuana initiatives on their upcoming ballots.