Louisiana Senate candidate lights up campaign with pot smoking ad

Controversial advertising is an age-old tactic among marketers who are seeking to grab attention while sparking conversations about moral values. Louisiana Senate candidate Gary Chambers, Jr. (D) is borrowing a page from this playbook with his new political ad in which he’s seen smoking marijuana and discussing the problem with arrests tied to pot and US policy.

The ad is called “37 Seconds” because, as Chambers states in the video, “Every 37 seconds someone is arrested for the possession of marijuana. Black people are four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana laws than white people. Most of the people police are arresting aren’t dealers, but rather people with small amounts of pot — just like me.”

The data, which comes from the American Civil Liberties Union, highlights one of the serious issues facing US policymakers and minorities – and it’s an issue that Chambers aims to tackle should he defeat U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, the Republican incumbent, to become the junior senator from Louisiana. Kennedy will be tough to beat, as he’s got a $10 million war chest, according to Adweek. Chambers’ ad, however, has been striking a chord, gaining over 5 million views on Twitter and over 1 million views on Instagram, as of January 20th.

Chambers is tapping into a notable shift in American culture and acceptance of marijuana, which has come a long way since former President Bill Clinton stressed in 1992 that he “didn’t inhale.” According to Pew Research, only 8% of Americans believe that pot should still be illegal. Recreational marijuana is now legal in 18 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam, and that likely will expand in the coming years. That said, there’s a clear divide in terms of political affiliation and support of cannabis products. Support for marijuana legalization has mostly become mainstream among Democratic politicians. That’s likely because politicians need the support of their constituents, and Interpret data shows that mostly liberal or Democratic voters are much more likely to support the use of cannabis.

According to Interpret’s New Media Measure®, 40% of mostly Socialist voters and 31% of mostly liberal or Democratic voters currently use cannabis products monthly whereas only 23% of Republican voters do so. Overall, more than a quarter (28%) of the US adult population now uses cannabis products in some form, regardless of political affiliation.