The marijuana movement has long fought to be taken seriously by high level politicians. For a very long time elected officials scoffed at marijuana supporters, often making Cheech and Chong jokes and other insensitive, stereotypical comments. There have been a lot of third party Presidential candidates that have courted the marijuana movement in the past, but there has never been a major party candidate running for President that has willingly congregated with an all marijuana-supporting audience. That is, not until recently.
Republican Presidential candidate Rand Paul made history recently when he held a campaign fundraising event as part of the Cannabis Business Summit, put on by the National Cannabis Industry Association in Denver, Colorado. According to people that attended the event, it went very well. Per Marijuana Business Daily:
Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul made a splash in Denver on Tuesday, raising an estimated minimum of $120,000 in a closed-door private fundraising event at the National Cannabis Industry Association's Cannabis Business Summit.
The total amount raised puts him firmly in the top tier of public officials who have raised campaign funds from the cannabis industry.
There was no immediate word from the Paul campaign on how much was actually raised at the event, and the total could easily top Marijuana Business Daily's estimate. Attendees reported about 40 individuals took part in the event, paying a minimum of $2,700 apiece. In addition, the Marijuana Policy Project provided a $15,000 donation.
$120,000 is obviously not a ton of money in the world of politics, but it's still a significant campaign contribution. More importantly, it's symbolic of the the growing trend in politics - support for (and from) the marijuana community. Support for marijuana reform was once thought to be political suicide, and that wasn't that long ago. Now there is at least one major contender to be the next President of the United States that is courting the marijuana community. To be fair, Rand Paul has made some disparaging comments about marijuana and marijuana consumers in the past, but he also co-introduced the CARERS ACT and met with leaders of the emerging marijuana industry, so I think it's fair to allow him the chance to prove he's turned over a new leaf (pun not entirely intended, but maybe a little).