Gary Chambers isn’t afraid to ruffle some feathers as he works to legalize marijuana.
On Tuesday (January 18), the Louisiana Democrat vying to unseat Senator John Kennedy (R-La.), released a new campaign ad featuring him smoking marijuana as he spoke about the racial disparities of marijuana-related arrests and the “waste” of money and resources authorities use when enforcing marijuana laws.
“Every 37 seconds, someone is arrested for possession of marijuana,” Chambers says as he’s shown lighting up a blunt. “Since 2010, state and local police have arrested an estimated 7.3 million Americans for violating marijuana laws; over half of all drug arrests.”
He continued, “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. Most of the people police are arresting aren’t dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot just like me.
Last June, Louisiana lawmakers amended state law so that possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana would be punishable by a $100 fine. In New Orleans, where Chambers filmed the ad, authorities recently announced that they would no longer be issuing citations over simple possession of cannabis alone.
“For too long, candidates have used the legalization of marijuana as an empty talking point in order to appeal to progressive voters,” Chambers said in a press release. “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new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology.”