Yesterday, a candidate desiring to champion Louisiana in the U.S. Senate debuted a campaign ad that puts cannabis directly in the face of potential voters. Seated is Democrat Gary Chambers, in an armchair the everyman can relate to; in the meadows making a nice blunt and documents statistics about the adverse effects of criminalization.
The ad is known as “37 Seconds,” a callback to research discovering that police in the states, make a cannabis-related arrest approximately 37 seconds.
“Black people are four times more likely to be apprehended for cannabis crimes versus white people,” Chambers expresses. “States squander roughly $3.7 billion enforcing cannabis regulations every year. Most of the individuals that law enforcement is arresting aren’t [drug] dealers, but instead are people with moderate amounts of [cannabis], just like me.”
While cannabis hasn’t been legalized for adult use in Louisiana, ownership of up to 14 grams was decriminalized back in 2020 and is now punishable by a $100 penalty. And in New Orleans, where the advertisement was filmed, law enforcement recently published that they would no longer be issuing citations over simple possession of cannabis alone. Last year, the governor also signed a bill to let patients in the state’s medical cannabis program legally smoke whole-plant cannabis flowers.
“For too long, candidates have used the legalization of cannabis as a meaningless talking point to appeal to advanced voters of Louisana,” Chambers expressed in a recent release. “I hope this advertisement works not only to remove the stigma of the use of cannabis but also forces a new dialogue that forms the avenue to legalize this beneficial drug and forgives those who were apprehended due to archaic principles.”
Chambers, a longstanding social justice champion in Baton Rouge who once ran for a U.S. House seat, is running opposite of incumbent Sen. John Kennedy, no, not that one, (R-LA), who hasn’t backed cannabis-related measures since joining the office in 2017.
In the statement, Chambers expressed he’s supportive of the Harnessing Opportunities by Pursuing Expungement (HOPE) Act, a congressional measure debuted by bipartisan lawmakers in December of last year that would incentivize states and local governments to efface cannabis records in their locales.
He also supports the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, a bipartisan bill to protect financial institutions that aid state-legal cannabis businesses. That measure has cleared the House of Representatives many times, nearly five, however has consistently been delayed in the Senate.
Chambers isn’t the first individual running for Congress who’s been open about disregarding federal cannabis prohibition.
Anthony Clark, an Illinois prospect who ran an unsuccessful primary challenge against a Democratic congressional incumbent a couple of years, made waves after he smoked cannabis in a campaign advert while consulting his personal experience with cannabis and the urge for federal bud reform. He also hosted what he referred to as the “first-ever congressional weed party” in a campaign videotape.
During that same time, a Democratic candidate for a House of Representatives seat to represent Oregon repeatedly was concerned ingesting and growing cannabis herself.
A sitting member of Congress has never publicly ingested cannabis, but various lawmakers have visited cannabis ranches, companies, and state-legal cannabis dispensaries. Rep. James Comer (R-KY) obtained CBD oil products he uses to a commitee hearing a few years ago.
During that time, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) expressed in 2019 that while he doesn’t smoke bud, “I do cultivate it legally,” however a spokesperson later clarified that he was generally referring to the legal grow measure in the state.
Regarding Chambers and his campaign for the U.S. Senate, we here at Stickyleaf wish him the best of luck.