Kissing babies is out, toking up is in—in Indiana, that is.
A new spot from Thomas McDermott, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate in Indiana, showcased the latest trend in political advertising.
Seated in a circle with several other individuals, McDermott can be seen sparking up a joint on camera.
“The legalization of cannabis is important to this campaign,” McDermott said in the nearly two-minute ad.
The ad makes McDermott the second Democratic Senate candidate this election cycle to smoke weed on camera.
In January, Gary Chambers, who is running for U.S. Senate in Louisiana, made waves with a campaign video in which he smoked a blunt.
McDermott, who is challenging Republican Senator Todd Young in this year’s midterm election, released the ad on Wednesday—4/20.
“Even on #420day not many Senate candidates admit to having smoked weed. I’m not most Senate candidates. I’ve been thinking a lot about whether to launch this video where I light up. It’s an issue that’s personal & important to me & so many,” McDermott, the mayor of Hammond, Indiana, said in a tweet.
In the ad, McDermott sits in a joint circle with several other individuals in a backyard one mile from the state line in Illinois, where recreational cannabis is legal.
“My whole adult life I’ve been surrounded by people—successful, creative people—who smoke weed and who are dying for this to happen. We’re ecstatic that it’s happened in Illinois and Michigan so that we can buy it legally, but why not Indiana?” an attorney named Shana says in the video.
Mike, a professional distiller, touts the economic impact of legalization in Indiana’s neighbor to the west.
“Now we have farms in Illinois where cannabis is being grown. The economic impact that it makes is tremendous, you know? Not only for the state, but for smaller towns as well,” he says.
McDermott is regarded as a longshot. The Cook Political Report currently rates the Indiana Senate race as “solid Republican.”
But the legalization push from candidates like McDermott and Chambers comes at a time when the Senate, where Democrats are currently preparing a bill that would end the federal prohibition on pot. The Democratic-led House of Representatives passed its own legalization bill earlier this month, but the effort will face headwinds in the Senate, which is split between Democrats and Republicans.
“Here’s the bottom line: we need to legalize marijuana on the federal level,” says in the new ad. ‘We need to also legalize cannabis in Indiana as well, so Hoosiers can get the health and economic benefits of cannabis. That’s the future we all deserve.”
Indiana Democrats have thrown their weight behind legalization in recent months. In a November announcement ahead of the legislative session, the party said it was putting “its full support for the effort to legalize recreational cannabis across the state.”
“Legalizing marijuana in some form is supported by about 80% of Hoosiers and would provide the opportunity to create an additional revenue stream for the state, create good-paying jobs, develop a long-term cash crop for Indiana’s ag and business communities, provide medicinal opportunities for people like the state’s veterans and seniors, and could start the process of expunging records for simple possession across the state,” the party said in the release.
Like McDermott, Mike Schmuhl, Chairman of the Indiana Democratic Party, pointed to the successful legalization policies in Illinois and Michigan.
“Hoosiers have seen the impact that recreational and medicinal cannabis use has made on the states around us, and not only are they contributing to neighboring states’ economies, Indiana is now on the verge of losing out altogether. The Republican supermajority at the statehouse is losing its economic common sense if they do not join Democrats this session in making this opportunity a winner for the Hoosier State,” Schmuhl said at the time.