From Speaker of the House to Cannabis Pitchman

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  From Speaker of the House to Cannabis Pitchman

Posted by CN Staff on June 04, 2019 at 11:38:59 PT
By Elizabeth Williamson 
Source: New York Times 

Washington, D.C. -- John A. Boehner, the former speaker of the House, once stood second in line for the presidency and staunchly against legalized marijuana. Now you can find the longtime Republican standing before a wall-size photo of the Capitol, making an online infomercial pitch for the cannabis industry.“This is one of the most exciting opportunities you’ll ever be part of,” Mr. Boehner says in an endlessly streaming video for the National Institute for Cannabis Investors. “Frankly, we can help you make a potential fortune.”
Mr. Boehner’s pro-weed epiphany coincides with the prospect of a payday as high as $20 million from the industry he once so vigorously opposed. He sits on the board of Acreage Holdings, a marijuana investment firm whose sale to a cannabis industry giant hinges on Mr. Boehner’s ability to persuade Congress and the federal government to legalize, or at least legitimize, marijuana.The chain-smoking, merlot-sipping, former 12-term congressman from Ohio says he had never lit a joint in his life when he and the former Massachusetts governor William F. Weld, now a Republican candidate for president, joined Acreage’s board last year. This year, Acreage announced plans to sell itself to Canopy Growth, a Canadian company that is the biggest cannabis holding in the world. The deal, worth around $3 billion, based on current stock prices for both Acreage and Canopy, would create an $18 billion behemoth, industry analysts say.Buried deep in a financial filing from Nov. 14, 2018, is Acreage’s disclosure that the two men each hold 625,000 shares in the company, which if sold after the company’s sale to Canopy would net them a fortune.Representative Earl Blumenauer, Democrat of Oregon and a founder of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, said he saw Mr. Boehner at a dinner on Capitol Hill the day he joined Acreage.“I said, ‘John, where were you when we needed you?’ And he said, ‘I’ve evolved,’” Mr. Blumenauer recalled in an interview, imitating Mr. Boehner’s smoky baritone. (Mr. Boehner had made a similar statement on Twitter earlier that day.)“He’s nothing if not entrepreneurial,” Mr. Blumenauer said. “The more the merrier.”But there is a catch. The takeover will not happen without substantial changes in marijuana policy, leaving it up to Mr. Boehner and his team of lobbyists to work their magic in Washington.Mr. Boehner declined to be interviewed for this article. Terry Holt, a spokesman for the National Cannabis Roundtable, which Mr. Boehner founded in February, declined to speculate on Mr. Boehner’s potential income from the sector. Mr. Boehner “sees an investment opportunity in cannabis,” Mr. Holt said. Citing statistics suggesting most Americans favor “some kind of marijuana reform,” he added, “Who wouldn’t want to be involved?”A slew of former lawmakers agree. Among those who have signed on in recent months to represent the weed industry are former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota, a longtime Democratic leader in the Senate; former Representative Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California; former Representative Joseph Crowley, Democrat of New York; and former Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida.Mr. Boehner, who resigned in 2015 under pressure from conservative Republican hard-liners, had some adjusting to do after he left the speakership, and, as recently as 2017, brooded about his purpose in life. Mr. Boehner told Politico at the time that a longtime family friend had approached him and said: “You’ve always had a purpose — your business, your family, politics. What’s your purpose now?” Mr. Boehner responded that the question gnawed at him every day.But Mr. Boehner’s post-retirement fortunes, at least, were not in doubt. Upon leaving Congress, he was offered an array of jobs in the influence industry, and chose several.In 2016, he joined Squire Patton Boggs, successor to the marquee Washington law and lobbying firm, as a “strategic adviser.” About the same time, Mr. Boehner, who once handed out campaign checks from the tobacco industry to lawmakers on the House floor, joined the board of the tobacco giant Reynolds American, makers of his favorite Camel brand.Reynolds directors with his profile earn roughly $400,000 a year, and Mr. Boehner holds other board seats, too, Mr. Holt said. Combined with a pension derived from his $223,000 annual congressional salary, Mr. Boehner likely earns a seven-figure retirement income, even without the potential Acreage windfall.Mr. Boehner and Mr. Weld joined Acreage’s board in April 2018, and together issued a statement: “We both believe the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy.”For evidence, “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 said, denouncing “the refusal of the V.A. to offer it as an alternative” to opioids.Chanda Macias, the National Cannabis Roundtable’s first vice chairwoman and the owner and general manager of the National Holistic Health Center medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, said that she had seen more than 10,000 patients who suffer from a lack of research, education and access to medical marijuana.“This is not about Boehner,” Ms. Macias added, “this is about saving lives.”On March 15, Mr. Boehner and Kevin Murphy, Acreage Holdings’s chief executive, spoke at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Tex., their business attire contrasting with the crowd’s T-shirts and sleeve tattoos.“I’d rather not take Advil PM every night,” Mr. Boehner said. “If only there was something else that could help me sleep.’’ He drew jeers from some members of the audience who objected to Mr. Boehner’s cashing in on the cannabis boom after opposing legalization for so long.When he was House speaker, Mr. Boehner earned the equivalent of an “F” rating from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which in 2011 excoriated him for his opposition to the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. The proposed bill, which died in committee, would have legalized marijuana for adult use and removed it from the Food and Drug Administration’s list of Schedule I controlled substances.In a 2011 blog post, the organization highlighted Mr. Boehner’s frosty response to “Todd,” an Ohio constituent who wrote Mr. Boehner asking him to co-sponsor the bill. “I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug,” Mr. Boehner wrote. “I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”Eight years later, Paul Armentano, the organization’s deputy director, has accused Mr. Boehner of “financial opportunism.”“He was in a much more influential position to bring about these legislative changes when he was a leading member of Congress than now, when he is largely a corporate shill,” Mr. Armentano said.In his infomercial for the National Institute for Cannabis Investors, Mr. Boehner makes a pitch for the coming “green gold rush” and promises that “the prohibition on cannabis is almost over.” He adds, “I can’t wait to see you on the inside.”The institute, based in Baltimore, offers a Diamond Level membership (“The Best Deal!”) with special reports, including “The #1 Cannabis Startup to Target Today,” “The Cannabis King Maker” and “The Millionaire-Making Mergers & Acquisitions Set to Happen This Year,” pitching the deal as “a $1,681 value, yours for just $79.”A version of this article appears in print on June 4, 2019, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Once an Enemy, Now a Promoter Of Legalized Pot. Source: New York Times (NY) Author:   Elizabeth WilliamsonPublished: June 3, 2019Copyright: 2019 The New York Times CompanyContact: letters nytimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives

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Comment #17 posted by Oleg the Tumor on June 27, 2019 at 06:54:21 PT
That Squeaking you hear . . .
 . . . is from the revolving door connecting governance with the corporation, allowing the government to exercise its "Economy of scale", while also allowing the Corporation to act independent from (or rather, above) the law (corruption, bullying, etc.) This way both get the "best qualified help". All perfectly logical and profitable. This will continue until corporations are no longer equal to humans in a court of law. Corporations do not forgive. They do not confess for wrongs committed. Nor are they capable of self-sacrifice.
But they own everybody's 401(k) money! So maybe Pogo was right as rain when he said, "We have met the enemy and he is us!"
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Comment #16 posted by John Tyler on June 16, 2019 at 09:28:47 PT

afterburner #15
I sure hope so. There is enough here for everybody to get a “square deal and a fair shake”, and like you wrote, “if voters, and the customers fight as hard for Social Justice as they did for Legalization, petitions, initiatives, fund raising, some semblance of fairness may prevail”. 
 I’m not knocking big industry too much (they are what they are), it’s just that they shouldn’t be allowed to be so greedy that they don’t leave room for others. The small timers, the artisans, the minority communities, those who seek economic and social justice, they have a rightful place too.

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Comment #15 posted by afterburner on June 15, 2019 at 09:24:23 PT

John Tyler #14
I agree, except for the certainty of an 100% Corporate takeover. Surely that is what they want. However, if the voters, the customers fight as hard for Social Justice as they did for Legalization, petitions, initiatives, fund raising, some semblance of fairness may prevail.
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Comment #14 posted by John Tyler on June 15, 2019 at 08:21:18 PT

Taking it all
The cannabis pioneers both rural and urban have had to carry on by being independent, cautious, and spread out in order to prevent detection. Now they need to come together for their own protection. This is a difficult thing for them as it is a big shift in their lifestyle and business paradigm. Now with cannabis legalization, they are being hit with exorbitant fees and taxes (a lot of these are nondeductible too) of various sorts and arbitrary rules that exclude cannabis industry participation of individuals who have had drug law conviction in their past. Right there are rules explicitly designed to keep them out. The pioneers need to be “grandfathered” into the legal industry and encouraged and welcomed with fair and sensible rules and regulations. Will this happen? I doubt it. The moneyed interest see an opportunity here and is poised to come in and take it all. It will all be legal, of course, because they will have written all of the laws and regulation to favor themselves.  That’s predatory capitalism for you.
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Comment #13 posted by afterburner on June 14, 2019 at 15:28:08 PT

John Tyler #12
I agree with the what you said 100%. My understanding is that some of the pioneers are working on such an alliance. The biggest drawback is that these underground farmer-warriors are used to working alone many have closed and/or moved to try to comply with the new rules and the financial demands of the California Government. The pioneers need to group together. Their children are more likely to do that. I wish them well and God bless. They face formidable competition and expensive regulations.The craft grower concept is a possible solution, at least in part. The Canadian and/or British Columbia Governments are tending to overregulate the craft grower licenses. Hopefully, California will take a wiser approach.
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Comment #12 posted by John Tyler on June 14, 2019 at 09:06:04 PT

going corporate
It is a shame about the cannabis farmers in Northern California. They were the cannabis pioneers. They were the independent operators who created the cannabis industry. They need or needed, if it is not too late already, to form a cooperative farming association that is, or would be, a private corporation with them owning all of the shares. They could then hire lawyers, business managers, and marketing people to protect what they have worked for all of these years. They could then have a say in how the laws and regulations are written so they can have their interests protected. It is the Golden Rule. Those with the gold, make the rules. Remember that. It is in action in every governing body, everywhere.Think back over history for a moment. Who always gets the dirty end of the stick in any social arena? Yeah, the poor, the oppressed, the powerless. The lesson here is, organize, unite and get power, people power, voter power, political power.The Norther California farmers have a product and a brand. They have a history. They are a legend.I know they would be going corporate too, but it would be their corporation with power that is defending their interests against other corporations using every means possible trying to mercilessly eat them alive. 

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Comment #11 posted by afterburner on June 09, 2019 at 18:50:14 PT

Growing Pains 😭 in Humboldt County
How Legal Weed Is Killing America’s Most Famous Marijuana Farmers.In the forests of Northern California, the regulatory state—not the DEA—is forcing thousands of growers out of business, or back underground.By NATALIE FERTIG.June 04, 2019
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Comment #10 posted by Hope on June 09, 2019 at 18:26:42 PT

He's apparently doing important work for legalization of cannabis. I appreciate that. I don't appreciate his congressional service concerning cannabis laws and outrageous treatment of his fellow humans in the name of those unjust laws. 
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Comment #9 posted by Hope on June 09, 2019 at 16:46:19 PT

I haven't seen any recent news of Jim Miller .
Remembering Cheryl Miller: Beloved Wife and Friend, Activist and Inspiration
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on June 09, 2019 at 11:47:27 PT

Jim Busted, Cheryl Put Back in Chair!

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Comment #7 posted by Hope on June 09, 2019 at 11:43:56 PT

Jacki Rickert
passed away December, 2017.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on June 09, 2019 at 11:33:07 PT

An article about Gary back in April of this year.
Marijuana advocates have hope but face hurdles as Wisconsin eyes legalization
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Comment #5 posted by afterburner on June 09, 2019 at 11:07:07 PT

John & Soup Herb
The rigging of the Canadian Cannabis so-called Adult Use Legalization follows the same pattern as you discussed. "rig the laws and regulation to exclude everyone but themselves." 
and "It's always about the money."Canadian Government has been fighting against Cannabians (AKA Possessors, Traffickers & Cultivators) for years. Customers, Vendors and Farmers or Producers have been demonized by half baked racist laws for just under a century, since 1923. Meanwhile, a flourishing black market evolved to serve the high demand for product. With the whiff of Legalization in the air, "illegal" dispensaries popped up allowing the hungry public to get their purchases at a commercial location without having to deal with a seedy dealer. The Premier of Ontario, Doug Ford, complained about one city, Hamilton, having as many as 80 "illegal" dispensaries. Gradually the police acting on behalf of the Province of Ontario and the Federal Government of Canada began shutting down these popular and profitable stores. Now, there are only two Legal Dispensaries, created by the Federal Liberals (our Democrats) Law and privatization by the Provincial Conservatives (our Republcans) in Hamilton, Ontario. The undersupply of product by Federally approved Licensed Producers, created by previous Federal Conservative (Republicans) Law is driving many cannabis enthusiasts back to black market dealers who have more available product which the Governments refuse to inspect except for mention in lurid newspaper stories about the dangers of the black market and of possible damages to the public.
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on June 09, 2019 at 10:30:51 PT

I can't believe what I'm seeing. I can't believe Wisconsin doesn't have legal medical yet. I hadn't paid close enough attention, but I'm stunned.Some great resistance and speaking out against unjust cannabis laws happened early on in Wisconsin and I remember Wisconsin activists doing some major things... like not being ignored. Cheryl and Jim Miller. Jacki Rickert and Gary Storck come to mind. Jacki and Gary used to comment here sometimes. I recall that Gary had severe glaucoma. Jacki had a very bad, pretty rare disease of some kind. It was harsh. Of course, Cheryl Miller died of her affliction and Jim carried on for her and others like her, as far as I knew, for many years.They did a lot. They put themselves out there. They traveled to offices of power. They wrote letters. They did interviews. They suffered. They petitioned the government and the internet. Dang. I cannot believe Wisconsin government is as hidebound as it apparently is. Or that it's prohibitionists are as compassionless and powerful as they obviously are.Wisconsin will soon become an island surrounded by legal weed
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Comment #3 posted by Soup Herb on June 09, 2019 at 05:29:06 PT:

That is the way republicans roll for over 100 years now.,.sad that is the division in the USA.
It is always about the money...
Man has been writing about this for 4000 years now and man has learned zero, zilch, nada, not a thing.
Man "takes the easy way out" and has no care for others needs.
Man was banished from the Garden of Eden for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Man now has no garden of Eden or knowledge...
Go figure.
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Comment #2 posted by John Tyler on June 08, 2019 at 18:24:07 PT

Boner II
With people like Boner, it is just about the money. It could be paper clips or rubber bands. It doesn’t matter as long as it makes money. Watch, they will rig the laws and regulation to exclude everyone but themselves. 
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Comment #1 posted by John Tyler on June 08, 2019 at 11:52:26 PT

The lure of easy money has a very strong appeal. 
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