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'I smoked a lot of' pot, says Ford

Mayor admits puffing as debate rages on

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

CNS (AARON LYNETT / NATIONAL POS Enlarge Image

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.

TORONTO -- Ontario's premier and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford threw themselves into the political pot debate Wednesday, confessing they too smoked dope -- and more than once.

Ford, who's been fighting allegations that he smoked crack cocaine, raised eyebrows when he freely admitted to using a different drug.

"Oh yeah," he said with a laugh. "I won't deny that. I smoked a lot of it."

Kathleen Wynne also came clean that she puffed some pot, but "very, very infrequently" and stopped 35 years ago, before her children were born and she was elected.

"It's never been a big part of my life," said the 60-year-old premier.

They're the latest high-profile politicians to own up to using marijuana after Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau admitted last week he took a pull on a joint three years ago while he was an MP.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has said he stayed away from the drug after seeing a U.S. Supreme Court nominee withdraw after it emerged he had smoked marijuana in college.

Trudeau said he hasn't lit up since, but Justice Minister Peter MacKay condemned him for breaking the law while serving in public office.

He also accused Trudeau of hypocrisy for voting for mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana production before he stopped smoking up.

Wynne said she won't pass judgment on Trudeau or anyone else.

"These are personal decisions that people make and I'm not going to weigh in on the decision of another politician or individual," she said.

Ford's admission Wednesday that he smoked weed came as a surprise since he's refused to answer questions from reporters about his alleged drug use.

In May, Ford denied he used crack in the face of reports he was videotaped smoking the drug, and said he couldn't comment on a video "that I have never seen and may not exist."

Three years ago, Ford admitted he was charged with driving under the influence and marijuana possession in Florida in the 1990s. He at first denied the allegations, but later pleaded no-contest to the impaired-driving charge and the drug charge was dropped.

Wynne, who lived with her young children for three years in the Netherlands, where the drug is legal, wouldn't say whether she agrees with Trudeau that marijuana should be legalized and regulated.

Proponents argue one of the benefits would be generating much-needed cash to pay for public services.

"I think it's one of those contentious subjects that we need to debate," said Wynne.

"I think it's good that it's been raised. I think that it's an important debate to have, but I'm not going to weigh in on one side or other of it at this point."

Former Liberal prime minister Jean Chr©tien tried to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but it didn't become law.

For the record, Chr©tien said he never smoked a joint.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 29, 2013 A7

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