In a bold step, Rand Paul became the first presidential candidate in United States history to seek funds from (legal) drugs. Yesterday, the Kentucky senator attended a fundraiser for his campaign, but not at a fancy banquet hall filled with WASPy Republicans, or even at one of those roll-up-your-sleeves-and-touch-the-commoners events in his native Kentucky. No, it was at the Cannabis Business Summit in Denver, Colorado.
Even though he wants the weed industry’s not-so-dirty drug money, Paul’s statements on recreational marijuana remain deliberately hazy. In a statement to The Denver Post, he sidelined the issue saying, “I think I see it just more from a federal perspective. And I think the federal government ought to stay out.” He has shown support for a federal medical marijuana bill, and for reducing the harsh sentences currently associated with weed-related crimes. On a harder drug note, Paul has proposed reducing the sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powdered cocaine. He also proposed legislation in the past that would ensure food products containing drugs are “weighed fairly,” which would mean that a cop arresting someone for say, possessing a pot brownie, wouldn’t include the weight of the brownie when determining the amount of weed possessed.
So it’s safe to say that Paul’s alignment with the marijuana industry isn’t that out of character. And we do have to applaud him a bit. In an era when presidential campaigns have become polluted with money and the most successful candidates more often than not have a financial advantage over their competitors, Paul is playing the game right. More than that, he’s going where the money is: the legal marijuana industry is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. The ArcView Group, a cannabis industry investment and research firm, found earlier this year that the US market for legal marijuana grew 74% in 2014 to $2.7 billion. Money has a habit of buying political influence, and we can only assume that the libertarian-leaning senator will be doing more to reform drug laws in the future.
On that note, let’s get high!