A U.S. Senate candidate in Louisiana lit up the internet this week, unveiling an ad on Tuesday in which he advocates for the legalization of marijuana — while smoking a joint.
The ad shows Gary Chambers, a Democrat, sitting in an armchair in the middle of a field and clad in a blue suit.
"Every 37 seconds, someone is arrested for possession of marijuana," Chambers says in a voice-over, while he can be seen lighting a joint. "Since 2010, state and local police have arrested an estimated 7.3 million Americans for violating marijuana laws — over half of all drug arrests.
Chambers continues: "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 arrested aren't dealers but rather people with small amounts of pot — just like me."
In a statement accompanying the video on Twitter, Chambers said he hoped the ad would destigmatize marijuana use and create a conversation around its legalization, one "that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology."
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Chambers is a self-described entrepreneur and the "co-founder of the media outlet The Rouge Collection," according to his campaign website.
He is seeking to unseat Republican Sen. John Kennedy, 70, who announced his own reelection campaign last year by posting a video in which he said he would "rather drink weed-killer" than let his supporters down.
'Five years ago, I made a promise, a promise that I took seriously. I told you that I would work to put our country back on track and make America great again," Kennedy said then. "In the last five years, we've accomplished a lot, but now the socialists are racing to undo it all."
Eighteen states have passed bills legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in recent years, and bills to do so have also been introduced in Congress. The use of cannabis for medical purposes is currently legal in at least 36 states.
Rolling Stone reported that every cannabis-related ballot measure on the ballot in states passed in November 2020 — including those in conservative regions of the country.
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As more states continue to move toward legalization, studies show that public perception is largely in favor.
According to date from the Pew Research Center, roughly 60% of U.S. adults say marijuana should be legal for medical and recreational use, while 30% say it should be legal for medical use only. Pew reports that "wide majorities of Republicans in all age groups favor legalizing marijuana for medical use," and "majorities of Democrats and Democratic leaners across all age groups support legalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use."