Benjamin Thomas Wolf, a former FBI agent and current adjunct professor at Chicago’s Roosevelt University, is hoping to become Illinois’ first “Cannabis Congressman.”
The Wicker Park resident and co-owner of Logan Square’s Park and Field restaurant reignited Illinois’ marijuana legalization efforts this week by literally lighting a joint in a 5th Congressional District campaign ad released Monday. The photograph shows the former fed in front of an American flag painting with thick marijuana smoke wafting in front of his even thicker black framed glasses.
The provocative pro-pot political ad comes from the same district that saw incumbent Rep. Mike Quigly, D-Ill., introduce a gimmicky “COVFEFE ACT” in 2017 simply to mock President Donald Trump.
Wolf, 42, who moved to Chicago five years ago, is hoping his progressive political stances on marijuana and gun reform will connect with the predominantly young and liberal area of Chicago’s North and Northwest 5th District neighborhoods, including O’Hare Airport and suburbs like Oak Brook.
He’ll face off against Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, as fellow primary challengers Sameena Mustafa and Steven J. Schwartzberg both look to motivate Bernie Sanders voters or other progressive liberals to the polls on March 20. Wolf said Chicago is the perfect city for an inspirational progressive relaunch in the wake of the national Republican victories during 2016.
“Not only is Illinois perfect right now but this district is one of the youngest and most progressive in the country…[the district] really went for Bernie and the average age is 33 years old,” Wolf told Newsweek. “If young people vote they can have anything they want, they just need to believe.”
Wolf’s “Cannabis Candidate” ad was preceded by a February 19 campaign video he released showing him holding an AR-15 and explaining the functions of the assault weapon. Wolf served as an FBI agent from 1999 to 2003 after graduating from Kent State University in Ohio. In 2003, he began work with the U.S. State Department, first in counterintelligence and later with the National Security division.
Wolf’s two-decade career as an armed federal agent who couldn’t use drugs provides quite the dichotomy against that of a weed-smoking gun reformer in Chicago.
“The government trained me to be strong and mean and suspicious and cannabis makes me break down those barriers and become more empathetic,” Wolf told Newsweek. “Eighty-five percent of the people want marijuana, it’s medicine for God’s sakes that could bring billions of dollars of tax money to the state that we obviously need.”
Despite Chicago’s strict gun laws, Wolf said the national conversation reinstating the Assault Weapons Ban and expanding background checks for gun owners needs Washington representation.
“It’s a mechanism to kill humans. It’s designed and manufactured to kill dozens of humans and there’s no place for this in modern American society,” Wolf told Newsweek.