A few weeks ago, Acreage Holdings completed a $119 million raise, believed to be the largest capital raise completed by a privately held cannabis company to date. Along with the announcement of the closure of said raise, the company said that, unwelcome on Wall Street, it decided to go public in Canada in September instead.
While the specifics of these announcements were widely discussed in the media, many readers seemed more interested in a hotter topic around Acreage: former U.S. House speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld are on its board of directors.
Seeking to shed more light on the topic, High Times reached out to Acreage CEO Kevin Murphy and former Governor Weld.
The Hot Topic
Our first question: Why did Acreage choose Boehner? And, what would Murphy say to the many people expressing discontent over Boehner’s appointment as a board director, given his long-standing stance against cannabis?
According to Murphy, Acreage enlisted John Boehner and Bill Weld because “they are compassionate men and they care about other people.” Murphy told High Times, “We view cannabis as extraordinary solve for people in need. We had initially focused on the medicinal value of the plant, but we do not discriminate against others that use it recreationally or for adult use because we have found that more than half the people that use it recreationally are self-medicating.”
Having said this, Murphy said he believed that John Boehner was an “extraordinary” choice for Acreage, classifying it as “possibly the best single choice” the company could have made—the reason being that Boehner “was a naysayer, he was adamantly opposed to cannabis… And he had the courage to change his mind, which is good.”
However, this is exactly what pissed off many longtime cannabis enthusiasts and advocates.
What’s Behind Changing One’s Mind?
Boehner changing his mind about cannabis shows he took his role representing the people of the United States seriously, Murphy claimed.
Murphy said that when Boehner learned that “94 percent of the United States believes that cannabis should be available for medical [uses], and 64 percent believe it should be available for recreational [uses],” he decided it was time to change his stance on marijuana, for it to better represent his constituents—even though he was no longer in office.
“Boehner is a very strong believer in the Tenth Amendment of the United States, and that is: states’ rights should prevail.”
In conclusion, Murphy said of Boehner: “This is what made him an unbelievably wonderful choice for us. As it relates to the naysayers and the people that were ‘disappointed,’ I’d say: John Boehner has created billions of dollars of value for the cannabis space and he’s created billions of dollars in value for our company.”
What About Weld?
What about former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, a Libertarian affiliated with the Republican party at times, who in 2016 ran for vice president of the United States alongside the famously pro-pot Gary Johnson?
“People don’t realize he was one of the top law enforcement agents of the U.S. Department of Justice before he was the governor of Massachusetts in the ‘90s,” Murphy said. “He’s a guy that’s a real legislator, he’s a real law enforcement agent.”
Murphy said, “We will look at additional people to our board.” He continued, “Isn’t this what people want? At the end the day all we’re trying to do is make cannabis more accessible and more available for people who want it.”
We finally got to ask Weld directly about his decision to join the board of Acreage. “I consider cannabis to be a healthcare issue,” Weld told us. “There are a lot of applications that haven’t been explored enough in the US.”
Weld continued, “Acreage Holdings’ emphasis is on medical marijuana, and with the amount of money they have behind them, I think they’re going to become a dominant player in the industry. The Speaker and I bring political communications to them.”