Former House Speaker John Boehner is joining the board of a marijuana company — and an analyst is calling it a 'monumental event'

  • Former House Speaker John Boehner is joining the board of Acreage Holdings, a firm that owns marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries in 11 states.
  • Boehner said his thinking about cannabis legalization has "evolved."
  • It's a watershed moment for the cannabis industry — analysts say it will perk up investor interest in a sector that could see $75 billion in revenue by 2030. 

Former House Speaker John Boehner is jumping into the marijuana industry, in a move one analyst describes as "monumental" for the sector.

Boehner is joining the advisory board of Acreage Holdings, a firm that owns marijuana cultivation facilities and dispensaries in 11 US states.

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Customers buy recreational marijuana at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Marijuana is displayed for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A customer browses marijuana products for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Customers queue for recreational marijuana outside the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A customer browses screens displaying recreational marijuana products for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A woman holds marijuana for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Marijuana edibles are displayed for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Eron Silverstein, 51, (R) shops for marijuana at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Marijuana products are displayed for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Customers purchase marijuana at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensary dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
People wait in line at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A customer waits at the counter to purchase marijuana as others wait in line at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Andrew DeAngelo (L) and his brother Steve DeAngelo (R), co-founders of Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, celebrate after a ceremonial ribbon cutting on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
An employee hugs a customer as others wait in line at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
An employee finds marijuana for a customer at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Employees wait behind the counter at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, as a large clock counts down to the store's official opening at 6am on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S. January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Different strains of marijuana are seen for sale at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A couple poses behind a cardboard Instagram frame while waiting in line at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Employees prepare to open at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Steve DeAngelo (C) makes the first legal recreational marijuana sale to Henry Wykowski at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S. January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Michael Sherman purchases marijuana at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
A customer peers at different marijuana strains in a glass case at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
Marijuana is seen for sale at Harborside, one of California's largest and oldest dispensaries of medical marijuana, on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana sales in Oakland, California, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage
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"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," Boehner said in a tweet on Wednesday morning. 

Bill Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, is also joining Acreage's board. Neither Boehner nor Weld made financial investments into Acreage, though Weld told Bloomberg he's considering it.

Boehner used to serve on the board of tobacco company Reynolds American Inc. His new role at Acreage, he told Bloomberg, will be to "provide advice" on how to work with local, state, and federal governments, based on his decades of experience in the political arena. 

A 'monumental event' for the US cannabis industry

Analysts see the two senior Republicans' decision to get involved with a cannabis company — one that deals directly with the plant itself — as a positive step for the industry in the US.

"It is difficult to overstate the impact of this monumental event for the US cannabis sector," Vahan Ajamian, a cannabis-industry analyst at Beacon Securities, said in a note.

He added that Boehner's move "should send shockwaves throughout the industry," and also said that "this news should serve to 'legitimize' the sector and further perk up investor interest."

Accordingly, Ajamian said US cannabis companies could represent the next wave of "outsized returns" for investors as more states legalize adult use for medical and recreational purposes — despite the federal government's opposition. More cannabis companies with solid underlying financials are also expected to go public in the coming years.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions opposes marijuana legalization. In January, the Justice Department rescinded Obama-era protections that limited the federal government's interference with cannabis businesses. 

Despite the uncertainty at the federal level, some operators in the cannabis space see the chaos as an opportunity for profits.

One of those people is Micah Tapman, a managing director at the Colorado-based company Canopy, which focuses on early-stage investments in the cannabis industry.

"When there's complexity, when there's chaos, when there's uncertainty, that's when the people who are really good at doing what they are doing stand to make really strong gains," he told Business Insider in January.

If marijuana does become legal on a national level in the US by 2030, it is likely to become a $75 billion industry by that year, according to a note from the investment bank Cowen.

Overall, the American public seems to be pro-legalization: 64% of Americans support legalizing marijuana at the federal level, according to a recent Gallup poll. 

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