“Every 37 seconds someone is arrested for possession of marijuana,” said Louisiana Senate candidate Gary Chambers in his new ad campaign, as he sat in a leather chair, outside in New Orleans, smoking a blunt. Airing just after New Orleans had passed an ordinance instructing police not to cite or arrest people for marijuana possession, Chambers chose a powerful approach to address the injustice of non-violent marijuana arrests. “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,” Chambers continued. “...Most of the people police are arresting aren’t dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot, just like me”.
Chambers is going against the odds to unseat Senator John Kennedy and earn a spot on the Senate to represent his home state, Louisiana. Chambers is an ordained minister and first gained recognition as a civil rights advocate in June 2020 when he gave a passionate speech about the legacy of racism at a school board meeting to change the name of the former Robert E. Lee High School, which later went viral. Now, Chambers operates a nonprofit organization called BiggerThanMe, with the mission of advocacy for social equity and justice.
This ad campaign pushes to destigmatize marijuana by portraying respected members of society using it safely and responsibly. Gary Chambers is an ordained minister, a civil rights activist, and a politician, and conveyed that he could easily be one of the men being arrested for marijuana violations every 37 seconds.
“I’ve long felt that you’re never going to destigmatize cannabis if all of the people that I know that smoke pot act like they don’t smoke pot so people don’t criticize them,” said Chambers in an interview with RollingStone. “...the only way that you can destigmatize it is to just do it.”
Having politicians like Gary Chambers in office signals cannabis industry growth. In an interview with RollingStone, Chambers said that he thinks anyone in politics should be pro cannabis, that it is good for business and the economy. His position is to embrace the great opportunity that is the marijuana market, do it sooner than later, and use those tax dollars to make a real difference in communities that have been most negatively affected by the War on Drugs.