Cannabis Summit Gets a Presidential Backer

This week's Cannabis Business Summit and Expo, hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association, will be historic: A fundraising event for Republican Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday will mark the industry's first formal overture to a major-party presidential candidate.

In case it wasn’t clear how mainstream the modern cannabis movement has become, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is offering up some strong ammunition at one of the growing industry’s marquee events.

On Tuesday, the Republican presidential candidate—who currently ranks sixth in a very crowded field for the GOP nomination—is hosting a fundraising reception at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s second annual Cannabis Business Summit and Expo. The association says the Denver event represents a significant moment for the industry.

“Never before has a major-party presidential candidate held a reception at a cannabis industry event, and NCIA is proud to host Senator Paul,” the association said in a statement obtained by Yahoo News earlier this month.

Tuesday’s private event, with VIP donor levels ranging from $2,700 to $10,400, is meant to give the industry some one-on-one time with a political figure best known for his libertarian-leaning views.

Those views, which are favorable to the cannabis industry, have seen some significant success in recent months. In May, Paul drew attention for his role in a showdown against the Patriot Act. While he ultimately lost the battle, his foot-dragging led to the passage of a compromise bill that ended the National Security Agency’s bulk metadata collection program.

Paul has been a key advocate of legalizing medical marijuana and giving the industry access to banking. He’s expected to discuss banking reforms and criminal justice issues at the reception on Tuesday.

NCIA Deputy Director Taylor West noted that the industry is just happy for the opportunity.

“It’s the first event that we know of that a presidential candidate will be involved in the industry,” she told The Denver Post. “He’s kind of in a class of his own.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a U.S. presidential candidate. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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