DENVER (CBS4) - It's a first for the marijuana industry in Colorado -- the first major-party presidential candidate is seeking support from people in the weed business.
Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky was courting donors at the Cannabis Business Summit being held at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver.
It might be a sign that the growing marijuana industry is now going to have a seat at the table with at least one of the presidential candidates, and it's expected that it won't be the only time a similar event is held.
"We bring in cannabis business professionals from all over the country to talk about the latest advances in the industry," said Taylor West, National Cannabis Industry Association Deputy Director.
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It's the second year of the National Cannabis Industry Association's Cannabis Business Summit, and it's doubled in size this year.
"Packaging, attorneys, accountants; it's a wide variety of businesses that all work within this industry," West said. "So we really are creating an event that's about being influential as well as building good business practices."
But now the organization has a new association in Paul.
"As far as anyone is aware this is the first time that a major-party presidential candidate has held a fundraising event in conjunction with a marijuana industry event," West said.
It cost at least $2,700 to get in the door for the fundraiser with Paul. It was a closed-door fundraiser and Paul didn't mingle on the convention center's floor to meet other marijuana business owners who didn't make a donation to his campaign. About 40 people attended Paul's fundraiser.
"It is a relatively high-level fundraiser. I think the idea is that Sen. Paul really wants to be able to have an intimate experience with some leading people in the industry who can really talk with him as well about the issues they are facing," West said.
Cannabis industry officials are hoping that means lower taxes for businesses, open access to banking, and most importantly, ending federal prohibition.
"We're certainly seeing the industry growing very quickly. That being said, progress at the federal level is always slow," West said.
CBS4 was hoping to talk to the senator about the somewhat controversial fundraiser, but his campaign refused an interview. Paul has introduced a bill that would legalize medical marijuana across the country.
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