On Tuesday, Democratic Louisiana Senate candidate Gary Chambers released a campaign advertisement video showing him smoking marijuana and advocating for its legalization.
The advertisement, titled “37 seconds,” begins with Chambers sitting in a leather chair, lighting a blunt, and smoking it.
“Every 37 seconds someone is arrested for possession of marijuana,” Chambers narrates in the video.
“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,” Chambers said. “States waste $3.7 billion enforcing marijuana laws every year. Most of the people police are arresting aren’t dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot, just like me.”
Chambers, a self described social justice advocate and community organizer, is looking to unseat Republican Sen. John Kennedy. He ran unsuccessfully in the Democratic primary in the 2021 congressional special election to replace Rep. Cedric Richmond.
In a tweet accompanying the ad, Chambers said he hopes the ad helps lead towards a route of legalizing the drug.
“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new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology,” Chambers said on Twitter.
On Jan. 1, smokeable medical marijuana became legal in Louisiana under certain conditions. Act 424 will allow patients to purchase up to two-and-a-half ounces of cannabis flower from dispensaries every two weeks. The law also decriminalized the possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana. The fine is now $100 or less and no jail time.
National arrest rates for marijuana possession were down from 2010 to 2018, but Black people were still 3.6 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people in 2018, according to the ACLU.
“We must move toward criminal justice reform regarding marijuana arrests by pushing away the stigma and being real,” Chambers said in a statement to CBS News. “Some parts of the country are fighting opioid addictions and creating millionaires and better schools from the marijuana industry. Others are creating felonies and destroyed families. I can’t stand for that.”
So far eighteen states and Washington, D.C. have legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use and twenty-seven states have decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana.
My first campaign ad, ‘37 Seconds.’ #JustLikeMe— Gary Chambers (@GaryChambersJr) January 18, 2022
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. pic.twitter.com/G0qKvmUGKD