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Ex-speaker John Boehner, critic of marijuana legalization, joins pot board

Avoiding the Boehner problem
Avoiding the Boehner problem 01:31

As Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is heading for the door, his predecessor John Boehner, once a critic of marijuana legalization, is joining the board of a pot company.

Boehner, who is joining the board of Acreage Holdings, says his "thinking on cannabis has evolved," noting his belief that pot can help with the rampant opioid epidemic. Acreage Holdings is a multi-state owner of cannabis licenses in states where medical or recreational use of the drug is allowed. 

"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," Boehner tweeted. 

But in his tenure in Congress, Boehner, well-known for his love of tobacco, opposed marijuana legalization. When he was speaker, Republicans in 2014 fought to undo the District of Columbia's legislation legalizing marijuana, threatening to prohibit funding that would in any way allow for the the D.C. law to be carried out. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a strong advocate against marijuana legalization, but has also said his office won't devote time to enforcing small infractions of federal laws pertaining to marijuana. Federal law enforcement lacks the resources, he said last month, to pursue "routine cases."

Boehner stepped down as speaker and left Congress in 2015, and Ryan, R-Wisconsin, took his place. But Ryan announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection this year, teeing up a race among Republicans to replace him. 

Boehner said he wishes Ryan well. 

"Paul Ryan has done an extraordinary job leading the House through turbulent waters at a time when the political discourse in America is changing," Boehner said in a statement. "His budgets during my own speakership showed the American people our conservative vision for addressing the drivers of our debt and restoring a path to prosperity for our children. And under his own speakership, his deep-seated belief in pro-growth tax reform has become a reality that is bringing jobs home to America. I admire Paul for his service, appreciate his friendship, and look forward to spending some time with him as a private citizen in the not-too-distant future."

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