The Louisiana native wants to push cannabis to the forefront of America’s political landscape
In January, US Senate hopeful Gary Chambers Jr. caught the eyes and ears of the nation by boldly smoking a blunt in his debut campaign commercial. He added to the flames weeks later by burning a Confederate flag in his next ad. But don’t think that Chambers Jr. platform is all about shock value. The substance behind his burning ideas is on full display whenever he speaks.
Recently, Chambers Jr. stopped in Atlanta on a fundraising trip and caught up with Leafly to discuss his run for US Senate, his viral campaign ad, and his intention to push for federal legalization if elected.
Chambers Jr. already has a proven history of advocacy at local Council and School Board meetings. He brought attention to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Lamar Johnson in police custody. And he sees the prosperity legal cannabis could provide for local economies across the country if leveraged correctly.
The stakes are high. But with his blunt-burning debut, Chambers has already proven he’s not afraid of heights. Keep reading and get to know the Senate hopeful who’s ready to take America’s complex weed problems all the way to Washington.
On the inspiration for his blunt campaign ad
We chose to smoke a blunt in our first ad for this US Senate race because in the South, people are still going to jail for use of cannabis. While in California, Illinois, now even Virginia, cannabis is legal. But in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, North/South Carolina, there are forms of legalization, but not full federal legalization.
On the human cost of criminalizing cannabis
Black and White people use cannabis and the same measures. But Black folks are penalized at a higher level for that.
I won’t say I wanted to be in this work or that I sought out to do it. There was a problem in my community, I had a platform to address it. I use that platform to speak to it as much as what we’re doing in this US Senate race.
We need people at the highest levels of this government talking about that issue. And we need to be able to study and do the research so that we can have the medicinal benefits that come from this plant.
On holding President Biden to his campaign promise to legalize cannabis
The President said in the time that he was campaigning that he would decriminalize cannabis on a federal level. I think we as a people, the Democratic Party, need to expect the President to be true to what he said as candidate Biden and (as) President Biden.
That’s the bare minimum. That’s the floor of what we should be doing. We should really be at every level expunging records and de-scheduling it. And making sure there is some level of equity about the resources that go around. Because eventually, this is gonna just be agriculture.
We (will) need your farm (points to a farmer in the barbershop) to get that same subsidy that the other farms get. That’s what it’s really gonna come down to.
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The minute that this stuff is legal or de-scheduled all across the country, the people with the big pockets and the big resources are gonna be the drivers of a new agricultural industry in America.
On why he’s needed in the Senate
There are problems in this country all over this nation. And a US senator can have a whole lot of power. You look at Krysten Sinema senator from Arizona and Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia. They have been on TV repeatedly throughout this year about holding up the President’s agenda.
That lets you know that if there are more of us there in those positions of power, the issues that we’re talking about can be mainstream. And we can move the needle on them.
If you’re invested in the struggle to legalize cannabis federally, keep track of Chambers Jr.s’ progress in this year’s Senate race.Local pundits currently give Chambers Jr. long odds of winning. But some acknowledge that an underdog victory like Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is on the table if he continues resonate with voters.