Presidential Hopeful Rand Paul Fundraises With Marijuana Industry

By McCarton Ackerman 07/01/15

The junior senator from Kentucky has advocated for medical marijuana and sentencing reform for non-violent offenders.

Rand Paul

Kentucky Senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul took an unconventional approach towards raising money for his campaign by becoming the first presidential candidate to ever raise money from the marijuana industry.

Paul raised money last Tuesday at the Cannabis Business Summit in Denver. Tickets for the event started at $2,700 and included a speech from the candidate. The event was part of a busy day that included a campaign rally and separate fundraiser at the Denver Athletic Club.

Although Paul does not support nationwide legalization of marijuana for recreational use, he does support a bill ending the federal ban on medical marijuana. He joined Democratic Sens. Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand in a statement urging the bill to be passed so that “patients, doctors and businesses in states that have already passed medical-marijuana laws to participate in those programs without fear of federal prosecution.”

Paul also called out Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, one of his many opponents for the 2016 Republican nomination, as a hypocrite for opposing medical marijuana in Florida while admitting to smoking pot in college.

He has also continued to speak out against the flaws of the current War on Drugs, believing it has led to an overcrowded prison system filled with many who don’t deserve to be there. Paul has stated that people should not be in prison for marijuana possession or other non-violent pot crimes. He has also pushed for eliminating federal prosecution for medical marijuana patients in states where it’s legal.

“The last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use ... it would have ruined their lives,” he told Fox News last March. “They got lucky, but a lot of kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys and they go to jail for these things. I think it’s a big mistake.”

Despite his libertarian leanings on the issue, Paul does not personally condone the use of marijuana. He said in that same interview that marijuana was “a bad thing to do” because it ruined people’s motivation to work and do productive things with their lives.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.