Gary Chambers Jr., a U.S. Senate candidate from Louisiana, smokes a blunt in his new campaign ad to highlight the bias and criminalization of marijuana possession.
In the ad, titled “37 seconds,” the Democrat and social justice activist sits in a chair while puffing on a rolled marijuana blunt. While smoking, he dishes out information about arrest statistics for Black Americans related to marijuana possession.
“Every 37 seconds, someone is arrested for possession of marijuana,” Chambers said in the video.
Chambers, a progressive activist, finished third in a special election primary race to take over former Rep. Cedric Richmond’s seat in 2021. Richmond left Congress in January 2021 to serve as a senior advisor and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement in the Biden administration. Now, Chambers is looking to unseat Republican Sen. John Kennedy in November’s all-party primary.
“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.”
There are 18 states along with Washington, D.C., that have legalized small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Twenty-seven states have decriminalized possessing small amounts of marijuana, CBS News reported. In 2021, Louisiana enacted a law that decriminalizes possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana. In August 2021, New Orleans pardoned about 10,000 people with convictions or pending penalties for small amounts of marijuana possession.
Still, Black Americans are nearly four times more likely than white Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession despite similar usage rates, according to a 2020 report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
It is “long past due that politicians stop pretending to be better or different than the people they represent,” Chambers said in a statement to CNN. It’s time to overhaul the criminal justice system’s treatment of marijuana possession, he added.
“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,” Chambers 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 wrote in a tweet, sharing the ad.
The campaign ad sparked a reaction on Twitter.
“Bruh stuffed a 3.5 in a backwood and shot a campaign commercial. What a time we’re in,” tweeted Faithful Black Men Association. “His opponent gone try to upstage him by freebasing on IG live”.
Jokes aside, others thought Chambers made his point in the ad.
“At least somebody in Louisiana fighting for a change that matters. All these other states making billions a year from cannibis sales meanwhile all Louisiana care about is Dixie Beer & Chemical plants,” tweeted Phántom777 (@KoolBreezze8)
Photo Courtesy of YouTube via the Gary Chambers Jr. Channel, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qj_FD25oREY/(AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)
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