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Trudeau smoked... and inhaled

Liberal leader's admission gives Tories ammunition

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Francis Vachon / THE CANADIAN PRESS 
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau answers questions from the media in Quebec City on Thursday about his pot-smoking admissions.

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Francis Vachon / THE CANADIAN PRESS Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau answers questions from the media in Quebec City on Thursday about his pot-smoking admissions.

QUEBEC -- Justin Trudeau says yes, he's inhaled a few times and, yes, he was already a member of Parliament the last time he did and, no, he has no regrets about it.

The Liberal leader laid out his past marijuana use in a lengthy interview and in an exchange with reporters Thursday in which he made no apologies.

He said he's smoked pot five or six times in his life -- including three years ago during a backyard get-together -- and never really liked it much.

Now that he's come clean about using pot, he said, he'd like to move on and talk about the hundreds of thousands of people who have a criminal record for it.

Trudeau sought to shift the focus onto his policy of legalizing marijuana when asked by reporters about his drug use and whether it had been a mistake.

"No, it wasn't a mistake," Trudeau told journalists in Quebec City. "I do not consume cannabis. I am not a big consumer at all. I tried it...

"I've never tried other types of hard drugs. I am not a consumer of marijuana but, yes, I've already tried it. I used it -- maybe five or six times in my life."

He said he believes public opinion has moved on and he's confident Canadians will judge him less harshly than his political opponents.

What matters now, Trudeau said, is ending a marijuana-prohibition policy he says costs law enforcement $500 million a year and has left 475,000 people with criminal records since the Conservatives took office in 2006.

Trudeau originally made the marijuana admission in an interview with the Huffington Post, in which he also revealed his brother, Michel, was charged with marijuana possession shortly before his 1998 death in an avalanche.

Trudeau said he was never known as the pot aficionado in the family. Trudeau also told the website because he never smoked much, he was never the one among his group of friends to buy the weed.

He said he last smoked marijuana about three years ago at his house in Montreal, outside on a patio by the pool.

"We had a few good friends over for a dinner party; our kids were at their grandmother's for the night, and one of our friends lit a joint and passed it around. I had a puff," he was quoted saying.

Trudeau was elected to Parliament in 2008.

Trudeau's admission will give more fodder to the Conservatives, who've been pointing to his support for legalizing and regulating marijuana as evidence he doesn't have the judgment to be prime minister.

The strongest initial reaction came from Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

"By smoking marijuana as a member of Parliament, Justin Trudeau demonstrates a profound lack of judgment," he said in a statement. "By flouting the laws of Canada while holding elected office, he shows he is a poor example for all Canadians, particularly young ones. Justin Trudeau is simply not the kind of leader our country needs."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was more guarded when asked about it, saying only Trudeau's actions "speak for themselves."

The prime minister has said he's never tried pot but attributes that to his asthma, which would make it painful to smoke anything.

The Huffington Post said the NDP leader's office confirmed Tom Mulcair has smoked pot "but sent strongly worded emails refusing to say when he last used the drug or where he procured it."

Trudeau said on Twitter he had indeed made a mistake in being so open and was now coming under "vicious attacks" over his other admission in the Huffington Post: that he doesn't drink coffee.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2013 A6

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