Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Political puffing: Who's smoking and telling?

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Pot appears to be on politicians' lips this week since the proposal by Canada's top cops that tokers pinched with small amounts of weed get ticketed instead of criminally charged.

That resolution was passed Tuesday by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (CACP) in Winnipeg, where hundreds of senior Canadian law enforcement officials were gathered to discuss and vote on ideas they say reflect progressive changes in policing.

On Thursday, federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau admitted to smoking marijuana while a member of Parliament.

Politicians in Manitoba didn't bat an eye over Trudeau's admission.

But how much they wanted to talk about their own experiences with marijuana, and their position on decriminalization, was a different story.

"I prefer beer," Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said before he cut short an interview.

Tory house leader Kelvin Goertzen, normally talkative on all sorts of subjects, declined to even take a question before ducking back into the house.

NDP members were a little bit more accommodating.

"I went to college and I travelled the world. What do you think?" Health Minister Theresa Oswald said before she headed back to her office.

NDP House Leader Jennifer Howard was more candid.

"I am in my early 40s and like most people of my generation I did some stupid things when I was younger. I never particularly enjoyed it, although I have been offered it on the doorstep when campaigning."

Manitoba Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard, who supported Trudeau's leadership bid, said he's never smoked pot.

"I just made a personal decision years ago not to," Gerrard said.

Gerrard said, however, he supported Trudeau's position of legalizing marijuana.

"We have to recognize that there are people of all ages who are using marijuana," he said. "There's no point in criminalizing everybody. It would be far better to regulate it."

Former U.S. president George W. Bush deflected questions about his rumoured drug use. "When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible."

Former U.S. president Bill Clinton tried to have it both ways by saying he tried pot but "I didn't inhale."

Current U.S. President Barack Obama told reporters: "When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point."

 

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 23, 2013 A7

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