By Sam Youngman
[email protected] 26, 2015 Updated 2 hours ago
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul is looking for big green from the marijuana industry.
Paul, Kentucky’s junior senator and a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, is scheduled to attend a fundraising reception next week at the National Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in Denver.
An invitation to the event says it is being hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association’s political action committee, and a spokeswoman for the group confirmed that Paul will be the only presidential candidate in attendance.
However, Paul campaign spokesman Sergio Gor said Friday that the campaign is hosting the event.
"It’s open to anyone willing to support Senator Rand Paul in Denver," Gor said. "Some of the attendees at NCIA agree with Senator Paul’s legislation of medicinal cannabis reform and hemp cultivation reform and we anticipate will join our event."
Paul has not called for the legalization of marijuana, but he has joined Democratic senators in proposing legislation that would end the threat of prosecution for patients who use medical marijuana, a move that won the acclaim of pro-marijuana groups.
Paul thinks the issue of marijuana legalization "is best left to the states," Gor said Friday. "He’s spoken multiple times that Washington should not get in the way of voters who have passed various types of legislation dealing with cannabis."
Paul has said little publicly about whether he has used marijuana, but he did tell WHAS-TV in Louisville that he "wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college."
"And that I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid," Paul told the Louisville television station.
But the senator has stopped short of calling for full legalization, as has been done in Colorado, telling the Hoover Institution in 2013 that he isn’t "willing to go all the way to say it is a good idea."
"I think people who use marijuana all the time lose IQ points," Paul said. "I think they lose their drive to show up for work."
The fundraiser is scheduled for Tuesday.