U.S. Cannabis Business Signs Up Former Canadian Prime Minister

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. cannabis industry is adding another prominent name from the world of politics.

Brian Mulroney, a Canadian conservative who negotiated the original NAFTA trade deal during his stint as prime minister, is joining the board of Acreage Holdings, a New-York based pot company that’s licensed in 14 states and counts former U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner as an adviser.

U.S. Cannabis Business Signs Up Former Canadian Prime Minister

“I think cannabis, and medical cannabis in particular, will do a lot of good for a lot of people,” Mulroney said in a phone interview. “It’s important that Canadians who need it will now have it in a legal fashion.”

Mulroney’s daughter, Caroline, is the attorney general of Ontario and will be overseeing the industry in that province as Canada becomes the first major country to legalize the drug. The opening of the nationwide market there, and the easing of regulations in some U.S. states, is driving investments that have catapulted the value of Canadian pot companies in recent weeks.

Acreage is preparing to debut in public trading through a reverse takeover in Canada that would value the company at as much as $2.5 billion, people familiar with the matter have said.

Mulroney knows Boehner, as well as fellow Acreage adviser William Weld, from their days in politics and said he was introduced to Acreage through conversations with the pair of former U.S. politicians. Mulroney said that cannabis can be of “great value” for helping address the opioid epidemic that has ravaged North America.

There is increasing optimism in the industry that regulations will ease at the federal level in the U.S., and Mulroney said he “wouldn’t be surprised” to see progress in North America and around the world.

When Boehner, a Republican from Ohio, joined the company it was a considered a watershed moment in the U.S. because nine years earlier he had said he was “unalterably opposed” to legalization.

“I’ve learned that these social matters come along and in the fullness of time they stretch their wings across the planet,” Mulroney said. “What was unthinkable 30 years ago when I was prime minister is now widely accepted in countries around the globe. That’s the way societies evolve.”

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