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A man in a blue suit sits in an ornate leather chair in the middle of a field and lights up a big, fat blunt. With each toke, smoke twirls around his face, the end glows in his meaty fingers. He looks stoic and pensive, like a kingpin. You’d almost think it’s the beginning of a music video.
But it’s not; nor is it a movie. It’s the first campaign ad for Gary Chambers, a Louisiana entrepreneur and social justice advocate running for the U.S. Senate.
“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new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology,” Chambers Tweeted.
It’s one way to talk about cannabis legalization and reform on a national level, and a far cry from the “I did not inhale” days of the 1990s.
The weed platform
Chambers isn’t the first to run on a pro-cannabis platform, nor will he be the last, especially as legalization moves state by state across the country. But his stunt is definitely garnering attention, even if it’s because he’s publicly blazing up in a field. But that’s not what the video is all about.
“Every 37 seconds, someone is arrested for possession of marijuana. Since 2010, state and local police have arrested an estimated 7.3 million Americans for violating marijuana law,” he narrates. “Over half of the drug arrests, 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 people with small amounts of pot. Just like me.”
Chambers, weed, and Louisiana
According to his website, Gary Chambers’ mission in life is “Do Good, Seek Justice.” A native of Baton Rouge, he co-founded the media outlet The Rouge Collection and has been an advocate and community organizer working for advancements in the justice system, healthcare access, and equality for minority-owned businesses. A relative newcomer to politics, this isn’t the first time he’s run for office. He hopes to flip the seat currently held by Sen. John Kennedy.
In 2021, Chambers ran in an open primary for a seat in Congress, a race that attracted celebrity donors. People like Susan Sarandon and Milla Jovovich were drawn to his platform of raising the minimum wage, healthcare reform, and marijuana legalization. “The party needs to lean on the president and get him to deschedule. I would be a U.S. senator who would support that,” he told Forbes.
He’s also against the hypocrisy of politicians shying away from using cannabis, even as they support federal and state legalization.
“I know a bunch of politicians who smoke weed as well as business people,” Chambers said. “Somebody’s gotta go out there and do it. It’s not so controversial.”
Nor is it illegal in his state. Louisiana has allowed medical marijuana use since 2019, and cannabis possession was decriminalized there last year.