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Columns

September 6, 2013

Canadian reefer madness

One wouldn’t call Ottawa the latter-day Haight-Ashbury; nor were the damp past two months akin to the Summer of Love.

Yet it seems Canadians were talking an awful lot about getting high, specifically on pot, as in weed, bud, grass, cannabis, herb — take your pick.

It all started in mid-August when an article appeared in the Canadian edition of The Huffington Post containing what most commentators agreed was an astonishingly candid interview with Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau.

The Post had invited the three main party leaders to respond to the question: “when did you last smoke marijuana?” This was a no-brainer for Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who pleaded a life-long case of asthma that prevented him from smoking anything. Opposition and New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair admitted he had partaken of pot but provided no details.

Trudeau, however, summoned the Huff reporter to his Parliament Hill office to confess that he has smoked marijuana five or six times — and not that long ago. Indeed, he says, three years ago he had taken a hit off a joint passed around at a dinner party in his own backyard when the kids were with grandma.

While the admission that the 42-year-old Trudeau had sampled weed probably surprised few, some political foes condemned him for flaunting the law and setting a bad example while he was a sitting member of Parliament.

Since the story broke, a long parade of politicians have come clean on their pot pasts. Surprisingly, very few stated they had never, ever put lips to spliff.

Indeed, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, whose alleged use of stronger drugs has stirred controversy, gleefully admitted he’s “smoked a lot.”

Just as one cannot unsmoke a joint, it was clear that Trudeau’s confession was intended to get Canadians tripping on the question of the law and marijuana. His interview and subsequent public statements have sparked a heated debate on the continued criminalization of the use of marijuana.

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