A Democratic candidate running for a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana continues to make marijuana a dominant theme of his campaign, reports Marijuana Moment. Gary Chambers’ campaign emphasizes the Drug War’s disproportionate harm on Black people. Chambers, running for the Democratic nomination, says he’s working to remove the stigma from marijuana use generally.
In January, Chambers went viral with a campaign ad featuring himself sitting in a leatherbound armchair and smoking a cigar-sized blunt. On Thursday, he followed that up in a major way. The Senate candidate posted a video of himself visiting a drive-thru marijuana retailer near Chicago.
“I am in Illinois, and this is a drive-thru dispensary,” Chambers says in the video. “You can pull up and get your grass without ever getting out of your car.”
Unapologetic For Enjoying Cannabis
Chambers is completely unapologetic about his enjoyment of cannabis. That’s a refreshing trait still unfortunately rare in elected officials. By way of contrast, many lawmakers openly acknowledge their alcohol use.
The difference may be due to fears that Cannabis use is a political third rail. But a supermajority of American voters consistently support legalization in national polls. And a whopping 58 percent of respondents said in a recent YouGov survey that they would be willing to vote for a candidate “who occasionally smokes marijuana in their free time.”
Chambers’s viral videos thrive on our society’s hypocritical skittishness around marijuana. Admitting to current use is still widely see as taboo. And no doubt it helps videos go viral. But as the candidate alludes to in his latest video at the drive-thru, the industry is now more or less mainstream in much of the country. “It’s business, baby!”
Chambers: Longtime Social Justice Advocate
A longtime social justice advocate in Baton Rouge who previously ran unsuccessfully for a Congressional seat, Chambers, a Democrat, is now vying to unseat incumbent Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA). Kennedy hasn’t sponsored any cannabis-related legislation since entering office in 2017. That puts him out of touch, even with his own party, what with increasing GOP support for legalization in Congress.
Chambers’s January campaign ad, titled “37 Seconds,” is a reference to a research finding that police in the U.S. on average make one cannabis-related arrest every 37 seconds.
“Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana laws than white people,” he said in the video. “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.”
Concerned Clucking From The Governor
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, pretended to be offended at Chambers’ tactics. “The imagery of actually smoking marijuana on an internet ad is not something that people should reward him for,” Edwards clucked.
In a press release accompanying the earlier video, Chambers said he’s supportive of the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act. Lawmakers introduced the bipartisan Congressional bill in December. It would incentivize states and local governments to expunge cannabis records in their jurisdictions.
Chambers also supports the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a separate bipartisan bill to protect financial institutions servicing state-legal cannabis businesses. That bill has cleared the House in some form no fewer than six times, but has consistently stalled in the Senate.
The other Democratic challenger in the race is Luke Mixon, a white moderate. He told the Baton Rouge based newspaper The Advocate in January that he’s never tried weed. The paper reported that in the aftermath of Chambers’s video, Mixon had been “forgotten for the moment.”