NEWS
06/30/2015 12:30 EDT | Updated 06/30/2016 01:12 EDT

Rand Paul's Denver fundraiser the 1st major-party event with new, legal marijuana business

DENVER - Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul planned Tuesday to court donors from the new marijuana industry, making the Kentucky senator the first major-party presidential candidate to publicly seek support from the legal weed business.Paul's fundraiser at the Cannabis Business Summit — tickets start at $2,700, the maximum donation allowed for the primary contest — comes as the marijuana industry approaches its first presidential campaign as a legal enterprise.Though legal weed business owners have been active political donors for years, presidential candidates have so far shied away from holding fundraisers made up entirely of marijuana-related entrepreneurs."It really speaks to how important this issue is and how far it's come," said Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, a major sponsor of legalization campaigns in Colorado, Washington and other states."We're seeing officials at the local, state and now federal level recognize this is now a legitimate industry, just like any other legal industry in many facets," Tvert said.Paul has embraced state marijuana experiments, while other candidates have either taken a wait-and-see approach or expressly vowed to challenge state legalization efforts.Paul has joined Democrats in the Senate to sponsor a bill to end the federal prohibition on the use of medical marijuana. He also backs an overhaul of federal drug-sentencing guidelines, along with a measure to allow marijuana businesses to access banking services.Asked last year whether marijuana should be legal, Paul said, "I haven't really taken a stand on that, but I'm against the federal government telling (states) they can't."___Follow Kristen Wyatt on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt