I first saw this on the Politico website.

A huge photo of John Boehner, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and a Washington insider if ever there was one, posed against the backdrop of a gigantic marijuana leaf. Right away I suspected the story that followed would concern the heavy politicking around bringing cannabis to the American consumer. The article:

Inside the John Boehner Weed Lawsuit: A Washington lobbyist says the former Speaker stole his ideas. Boehner says his accuser must be smoking something.

Summary: “A Washington lobbyist is suing former House Speaker-turned-marijuana maven John Boehner, claiming that he pilfered talking points about legalization.”

This is about talking points? That all-too-familiar form of political BS that assaults us at every turn during election season? Or occasionally, during the run-up to a big vote in the Senate?

Aren’t those just, you know, hot air? “Heck, you can’t even smoke ’em,” joked a friend.

Here’s the outline: A DC lobbyist (there are many) of middling reputation has filed a suit claiming that John Boehner and an associated law firm has stolen his idea, and the plans for implementing it, without giving him credit (or paying him.)

The article describes the plan as how to set up an ‘umbrella’ advocacy organization that would coordinate a massive push for legalization. The talking points would be a key element. Instead of working with the plaintiff, he claims Boehner et al went off on their own to set up an identical organization, without including him.

In the world of political deal making, that counts as a cardinal sin.

The defense has responded by dismissing this an attempt on the part of a little-known lobbyist to wrongly take credit and demand payment for ideas that not only weren’t original with the plaintiff, but were already widely known to everyone who had dipped a toe into this fast-emerging market sector.

Translation: They weren’t your ideas to begin with, buster.

The talking points in question were roughly as follows:

  • “If cannabis were legal, it would help us put an end to the opioid epidemic.”
  • “Also, we could improve the treatment of persons who suffered from PTSD.”
  • “Last but not least, it would result in a whole lot of new revenue from taxes levied on all the new cannabis products.”

I have to admit, those arguments have been around for a long time. Certainly they predate John Boehner’s sudden passion for legalizing cannabis. However, the plaintiff insists that it was he who turned the Speaker away from the dark side, and made him a powerful advocate for legalizing pot.

Assuming that’s what he really is. As I recall, Boehner was agin’ it before he was for it.

Not so unusual in politics, I suppose.

Anyway, I post this because it reflects the atmosphere of greed and self-interest that characterizes the debate over marijuana. It just makes good decision-making more difficult, the issues more confused.

Just when more than ever, what we really need is clarity.