State Watch

Louisiana Democrat running for US Senate smokes marijuana in campaign ad

Gary Chambers, a Democrat running for a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana, released a campaign ad on Tuesday in which he is shown smoking marijuana. 

In the 37-second ad spot released Tuesday, Chambers, who describes himself as a social justice advocate and a community organizer, is shown seated in an open field, lighting up a rolled blunt and taking multiple puffs.

In the voice-over, Chambers shares the statistics of marijuana-related arrests and convictions, including the costs affiliated with enforcing marijuana laws.

“Every 37 seconds, someone is arrested for possession of marijuana,” he says. “Since 2010, state and local police have arrested an estimated 7.3 million Americans for violating marijuana laws — over half of all drug arrests. Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana laws than white people.”

“States waste $3.7 billion enforcing marijuana laws every year,” he adds. “Most of the people police are arresting aren’t dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot. Just like me.”

Chambers said in a statement that he was hoping to change the conversation around marijuana with the campaign ad. 

“For too long, candidates have used the legalization of marijuana as an empty talking point in order to appeal to progressive voters,” he said. 

“I hope this ad works to not only destigmatize the use of marijuana, but also forces a new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology.”

Chambers specifically said he supports the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act, a bill introduced by Reps. David Joyce (R-Ohio) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), which would incentivize states to  expunge criminal records for people convicted of non-violent cannabis offenses.

Chambers also endorsed the Secure and Fair Enforcement Act, also called the SAFE Banking Act, which would expand the marijuana industry’s access to financial institutions.

Chambers is among the candidates seeking to unseat Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) in the upcoming midterm election. 

His campaign said the ad was filmed in New Orleans, where the city council recently passed an ordinance intended to effectively remove all the penalties for simple possession of marijuana.

Chambers launched an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. House in Louisiana’s 2nd District last year, according to the Washington Post.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez David Joyce Gary Chambers John Kennedy John Neely Kennedy Louisiana Marijuana laws New Orleans

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