Marijuana Moment is a wire service assembled by Tom Angell, a marijuana legalization activist and journalist covering marijuana reform nationwide. The views expressed by Angell or Marijuana Moment are neither endorsed by the Globe nor do they reflect the Globe’s views on any subject area.
A congressional candidate in Illinois is making waves after smoking marijuana in a campaign ad where he discussed his personal experience with cannabis and the need for federal reform.
Anthony Clark, who is aiming to unseat US Representative Danny Davis in next year’s Democratic primary, filmed a roundtable discussion he hosted that revolved around marijuana issues for the ad. The Air Force veteran said he first started using cannabis in high school but rediscovered it as an adult after being injured in a Seattle shooting.
A medical cannabis patient, Clark said the plant helps him cope with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Marijuana “has always been there for me throughout my life, enabling me to interact with society and deal with the pressures that society often brings upon you,” he said.
He also stressed in the campaign video that he’s transparent about his marijuana use because “if we really want to make change and we have a platform, you just have to be courageous with your platform.”
“I think I have to be just as open about my cannabis use because lying to individuals, I think, plays a direct role in enabling status quo, in enabling the oppressors, the top 1 percent, to remain,” he said. “I don’t hide this at all. I tell people on a daily basis, cannabis saved my life, it continues to save my life.”
“Legalization with a focus on racial justice is a direct part of building greater equality in our country,” he said. “For me, I think it’s extremely important to be honest as a political candidate.”
This isn’t the only time Clark has consumed marijuana on camera. Earlier this week, he celebrated reaching 10,000 Twitter followers by smoking a joint while singing Ice Cube’s “It Was A Good Day.”
He’s also not the first congressional candidate to unabashedly consume cannabis in a campaign ad. Last year, Benjamin Thomas Wolf, also from Illinois, ran against US Representative Mike Quigley in Illinois and released a photo of himself smoking a joint in front of a picture of an American flag.
While Clark has made marijuana legalization a main tenet of his current campaign, the incumbent congressman he is challenging is also supportive of broad reform. Davis has cosponsored several bills to federally deschedule cannabis, including legislation that recently cleared the House Judiciary Committee in a historic vote.
Clark told The Chicago Sun-Times that Davis only supports the policy because “he sees after 2018 the shift in the public sentiment — of course with it becoming legal in Illinois [in] January — now he’s going to sign on.”
Davis first cosponsored a bill to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act in January 2018, months ahead of state lawmakers’ approval of legalization in Illinois. The congressman has also consistently supported amendments to protect states with medical cannabis programs from federal intervention, beginning in 2003. In 2015 and this year, he voted in favor of amendments protecting all state cannabis programs.
“But did he fight for it? Was he bold? Was he out front? Was he extremely transparent about it, like we were?” Clark asked, then answering: “No.”
The congressman told the Sun-Times in a statement that he’s been “supporting the legalization of marijuana for a long time.”