NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVLA) — U.S. Senate candidate Gary Chambers released his first campaign ad Tuesday showing him smoking marijuana while listing drug statistics that his campaign described as “alarming.”
Citing reports by the American Civil Liberties Union, Chambers, a Democrat running for a U.S. Senate seat in Louisiana, says in the ad that the U.S. spends $3.7 billion a year enforcing marijuana laws, and he pointed out a disparity in marijuana arrests.
“Every 37 seconds, someone is arrested for possession of marijuana,” he says. “Since 2010, state and local police have arrested an estimated 7.3 million Americans for violating marijuana laws — over half of all drug arrests. Black people are four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana laws than white people.”
He adds, “Most of the people police are arresting aren’t dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot. Just like me.”
Medicinal marijuana became legal in Louisiana in 2019. At the start of 2022, smokable marijuana became available for patients after Gov. John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 391 in July, but recreational use of the drug remains illegal.
Two statewide polls conducted last spring indicated that a majority of Louisiana residents support the legalization of recreational use.
One poll, commissioned by the Louisiana Association for Therapeutic Alternatives and conducted by JMC Analytics and Polling, found that two-thirds of residents support legalization.
Another poll by the University of New Orleans found 55% of residents support legalization.
The Speaker Pro Tempore of the Louisiana House of Representatives Tanner D. Magee, a Republican, also commissioned a poll of his district last year which he says found 75% polled in favor of legalization.
“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a new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology,” Chambers said in a press release.
Chambers unsuccessfully campaigned to represent Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District in 2020. He missed the run-off election by 1%.