Former U.S. House speaker-turned-cannabis industry lobbyist John Boehner is accused in a lawsuit of stealing data and talking points from another cannabis advocacy firm before backing out of a deal to join the group, according to a New York Post report. Boehner had signed an agreement to become co-chair of the 10 Campaign in 2018 but the following year launched his own group – the National Cannabis Roundtable – and the 10 Campaign alleges that Boehner “repackaged” the group’s talking points as his own.
“Boehner served to legitimize the industry … and paved the way for other politicians, elected officials, and influencers to come to the table after years of opposition to cannabis legislation. And he did it by intentionally misleading [10 Campaign Co-Founder James] Pericola.”
In April 2018, Boehner said his “thinking has evolved” on cannabis despite opposing the reforms while in Congress. In 1999, two years before he would lead the lower chamber, he voted against a bill to implement a voter-approved medical cannabis program in Washington, D.C. In 2004, Boehner, a Republican, was given a 0% score by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, indicating an “anti-legalization stance.” Two years later, he was ranked a -30 by the advocacy organization – indicating a “hard-on-drugs” stance. A -30 is the lowest score a lawmaker could receive.
The lawsuit contends that in 2018, Pericola approached Boehner’s aides and Squire Patton Boggs after Attorney General Jeff Sessions struck down the Cole Memorandum and that Pericola saw the former speaker as the perfect man to normalize cannabis – with his cigar habit and conservative base. Pericola then sent Boehner proprietary materials and both parties signed non-disclosure agreements. The lawsuit alleges that Boehner used those materials to start the National Cannabis Roundtable.
“I did not make this decision lightly and realize we are taking on Goliath, but the truth matters and we look forward to our day in court.” – Pericola to the Post
The lawsuit contends that Boehner, who joined the board of Acreage Holdings in 2018, has been living the “high life” and making millions off of fees associated with his cannabis dealings, although it is unclear the extent of his cannabis-related earnings.
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