Anthony Clark, an Air Force veteran trying a second time to unseat U.S. Rep. Danny Davis, released a campaign video Monday that shows him openly smoking weed as he pushes his plan to legalize the drug nationwide.
Clark, 37, told the Chicago Sun-Times that he rediscovered pot when he was honorably discharged from the military after being wounded in a shooting in 2007 in Seattle, Washington. He was later issued a medical cannabis card in Illinois after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and Behcet’s disease, a rare disorder that causes inflammation in the blood.
“Cannabis 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,” Clark tells a pair of Chicago area residents during a taped smoke session that was edited into the shorter campaign video posted on Facebook.
“Cannabis saved my life. It continues to save my life,” Clark says, noting that he’s now a daily pot user.
Clark and two other Democrats, Kina Collins and Kristine Schanbacher, are looking to best Davis in the March primary battle for the 7th Congressional District seat the incumbent has held since 1997.
Clark, who earned only 26% of the vote in a head-to-head matchup with Davis in 2018, currently has the least cash-on-hand of the contenders, records show. He also failed to file a recent quarterly report with the Federal Election Commission.
An Oak Park native and member of the insurgent Democratic Socialists of America, Clark teaches special education at Oak Park and River Forest High School and leads the Suburban Unity Alliance, a community organization that temporarily had its nonprofit status revoked after Clark failed to file the proper paperwork. The organization’s nonprofit status was restored in May.
Last year, Clark was targeted in racist graffiti found on a shed on Oak Park and River Forest’s campus. He was also featured in America to Me, the Starz documentary series focusing on race relations at the diverse school.
In his video ad, Clark voices his support for a nationwide legalization push that prioritizes racial justice and takes a shot at Democrats “riding the current wave that exists of neoliberalism and centrism.” Meanwhile, Davis has co-sponsored the legislation to lift the federal prohibition on pot that cleared a House committee last week.
But, Clark claimed, Davis’ stance has changed since they last faced off.
“Because he knows we ran and now 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,” Clark told the Sun-Times. “But did he fight for it? Was he bold? Was he out front? Was he extremely transparent about it, like we were? No.”
Reached by the Sun-Times, Davis said he has been “supporting the legalization of marijuana for a long time.”
“I think it’s pretty clear that the use of marijuana products is here to stay. It’s not going away and I support it,” said Davis, who nevertheless voiced concerns about young people abusing the drug.