Many in the cannabis community don’t like former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, and with good reason. When he held considerable power in the federal government, Boehner did nothing to help marijuana law reform, using his platform and votes on the issue to thwart its progress. Now that he is out of office and has entered the cannabis industry, many are calling foul.
To be sure, Boehner touting the positive effects of cannabis now that he has little power over government policy begs the question, “Where were you then?” And while some are at least semi-happy that Boehner is using what influence he has left to bring about change now, others are still not buying his evolution on the issue, citing the fact that his tune didn’t change until he was being paid by the industry.
Two points about that: 1) I have no problem believing Boehner has evolved on the issue as millions of older Americans have over the past 5-10 years. He has said that talking with patients – especially veterans – has shown him another perspective on a substance he has never tried himself. This story is echoed by many who have switched to the pro-legalization side recently. 2) I’ve never really bought the whole greed-made-him-do it theory of why Boehner now touts cannabis. A former Speaker can make millions in the legal and corporate worlds doing the same sort of “consulting” Boehner is doing in the cannabis industry; less-powerful former officials do it all the time. Why would Boehner choose the cannabis industry unless he really has had a change of heart/mind? I doubt he will become considerably wealthier there than he would have had in another industry, so why get into cannabis if he didn’t really believe in it now?
Yes, Boehner is late…way late. But if we dismissed every person who joined the movement later in the game we would never have achieved the nationwide majority of support we currently have. A lot of people have been late to this issue, but enough have finally come around that legalization is no longer an abstract discussion, but a reality that is spreading across the U.S and the world.
It would have been better for Boehner to have made this evolution 10 years ago, but he didn’t and nothing can be done about that. Being angry with someone for what they failed to do in the past is understandable, but that will only get you so far. If Boehner can contribute to the marijuana law reform movement, I say let him. You don’t have to like him to accept his help in accelerating cannabis legalization.