John Boehner flips on pot legalization: Fed laws ‘way out of step’

Former Speaker of the House John Boehner spent nearly 35 years in the political arena opposing the legalization of cannabis but recently had a big change of heart.

“I opposed cannabis my entire career, but over the last five years or I so I felt myself moving,” he told FOX Business' Maria Bartiromo. “And then as I heard more and more anecdotal stories about people who were using cannabis for medicinal uses it began to convince me that I wanted to be a part of this discussion.”

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, which puts it in the same category as ecstasy, heroin and LSD.

Medicinal marijuana is currently legal in 33 states, while marijuana for recreational purposes is legal in 10 states, including Washington, D.C. However, there are a number of bills making their way through Congress, including The STATES Act, which would give states the ability to legalize marijuana without federal controls.

Boehner, now a board member of Acreage Holdings, the largest multi-state owner of cannabis licenses and assets in the U.S., believes that the federal laws are “way out of step” and the STATES Act will be passed very soon.

“When the American people are for something their members of Congress listen and they come along,” he said. “And so the STATES Act, which would say if it's legal in that state the federal government recognizes that it’s legal in that state, I think has a very good chance of passing sometime next year.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, last week, attempted to answer a series of questions during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the conflicting state and federal marijuana laws. Lawmakers are contending that it creates confusion for cannabis businesses. And according to Acreage Holdings CEO Kevin Murphy, the regulatory environment “definitely is not” caught up with all the excitement around cannabis.

“I think we in the United States are woefully behind the rest of the world and had seen that first-hand in Davos, Switzerland,” he told Bartiromo, adding that Canada leads the capital markets and Israel leads on research.

As of now, there isn’t a ton of information on the safety of using cannabis and whether it causes cancer other than straightforward research on the smoking component of utilization. But Murphy said that his investment company is conducting studies “to bridge the anecdotal stories to clinical stories.”

“Today in 2019 there are very sophisticated forms of delivery, whether it’s through tinctures or through edibles and even vaporizers,” he said. “So when we think about clean, predictable medicine those are really the medicines that we are looking to highlight.”