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U.S. Senate candidate from Louisiana smokes marijuana in campaign ad

Gary Chambers, a Democrat from Louisiana running for U.S. Senate, unveiled a new campaign ad on Jan. 18 in which he is shown smoking marijuana. (Video: Gary Chambers Jr. | YouTube)

Gary Chambers, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate from Louisiana, unveiled a new ad Tuesday in which he is shown smoking marijuana.

In the highly unusual spot, Chambers, who is seeking to unseat Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.), is shown seated in an open field, lighting up a rolled blunt of marijuana and taking multiple puffs. In a voice-over, he rattles off statistics about the drug, including that Black people are four times as likely as White people to be arrested for its use.

“For too long, candidates have used the legalization of marijuana as an empty talking point in order to appeal to progressive voters,” Chambers said in a statement accompanying the release of the ad. “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new conversation that creates the pathway to legalize this beneficial drug, and forgive those who were arrested due to outdated ideology.”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 supports federal legislation that would incentivize state and local governments to expunge the criminal records of those who have been convicted of marijuana offenses and that would expand the marijuana industry’s access to financial institutions.

His campaign said the ad was filmed in New Orleans, where the City Council recently passed an ordinance intended to remove penalties for simple possession of marijuana.

Chambers describes himself as a social justice advocate and community organizer in Baton Rouge. He ran unsuccessfully last year in a special U.S. House election for Louisiana’s 2nd District.

Eighteen states, two territories and the District of Columbia had enacted legislation as of Nov. 29 to allow the regulation of marijuana for nonmedical use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.