A Louisiana politician who is running for a congressional seat is appealing to voters by showcasing his own personal cannabis use while addressing the failed War on Drugs. Louisiana Senate candidate Gary Chambers, released the video on YouTube entitled “37 Seconds” to sum up the problems with the War on Drugs and the need for social justice now—all while sitting in a chair smoking a blunt.
“Every 37 seconds, someone is arrested for marijuana. 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 says in the video. “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.”
Chambers expresses his confidence that he can stand up for the cannabis consumers of Louisiana if he becomes a Senate representative. “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new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology,” Chambers wrote on social media channels.
Chambers announced his run for U.S. Senate on January 12, citing the need for change. “I’m running for the U.S. Senate because Louisiana continues to be ranked last in the nation. That is more a reflection of our leaders than our people,” he wrote of the current regime. Furthermore, he pointed out that it has been 149 years since a Black man served in the “statewide office” in Louisiana. The last Black man, P.B.S. Pinchback was governor of the state between December 9, 1872 through January 13, 1873. “Let’s not wait another 100 years before another Black person is elected statewide in Louisiana.”
In the past, Chambers has made himself known as an advocate for social justice. In March 2021 he ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, but lost in the special election to Troy Carter. He also shared his support both for the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act, as well as the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.
Chambers’ video is a brief but bold display of the reality of cannabis in a modern age, and the drawbacks that the stigma still perpetuates. However, he isn’t the only politician who has embraced cannabis to appeal to voters.
In 2019, a Illinois House candidate Anthony Clark smoked a joint while discussing the need for honesty. “I think I have to be just as open about my cannabis use, you know? Because lying to individuals, I think, plays a direct role in enabling status quo, in enabling the oppressors, the top one percent, to remain,” Clark said in an interview. “We have to empower ourselves. We have to educate ourselves. I don’t hide this at all. I tell people on a daily basis, cannabis saved my life, it continues to save my life.”
Likewise, the presence of cannabis is being used elsewhere to help educate and normalize cannabis for other lawmakers. A Mississippi legislator brought an ounce of hemp to the state governor to demonstrate how little it is, and how much more medical patients could require to be properly treated for their ailments.
Sales for cannabis flower in Louisiana only just began on January 1, 2022, finally bringing the reality of medical cannabis to patients in Louisiana after it was originally approved by legislators in 2015. Currently, patients with one or more qualifying conditions can received approval from their doctor to use medical cannabis.