Progressive activist and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Gary Chambers Jr. smokes marijuana in a field in New Orleans while talking about marijuana reform in his first campaign ad.
On Jan. 1, smokeable medical marijuana became legal in Louisiana under certain conditions. But the use of cannabis has been a question asked of politicians for decades.
The Democrat Party's position on marijuana use has shifted over the years.
President Joe Biden has publicly promised to automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions as well as decriminalize the use of cannabis. He said he supports the legalization of medicinal marijuana.
Five White House staffers, however, have been fired due to past drug use which included marijuana.
The Office of Personnel Management in 2021 released a memo stating past marijuana use should not be the sole reason a candidate for a government position should be deemed unfit.
The government’s shift on marijuana use follows the change in Americans' views on the drug. A Pew Research Center survey in April found that 91% of Americans believed marijuana should be legalized. Sixty percent told Pew that legalization should be for both recreational and medicinal usage.
Only 8% of respondents said it should not be legal for any adult use.
Chambers, who is Black, opens the new ad titled "37 Seconds" by lighting and smoking a joint as a stopwatch clicks in the background.
He says someone is arrested for possession of marijuana every 37 seconds.
“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,” he goes on.
In 2021, a Louisiana law decriminalized the possession of up to 14 grams of marijuana. The fine is now $100 or less and no jail time.
Also last year, the New Orleans City Council pardoned 10,000 cases of marijuana possession for anyone convicted after 2010.
Chambers, who has never been arrested, ended the ad saying, “Most of the people police are arrested aren't dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot, just like me.”