“Do I seem like I smoke marijuana?” Harper asks as pot debate smolders

The Canadian Press
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OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau has done it. So, have premiers Kathleen Wynne and Darryl Dexter.

Even Toronto mayor Rob Ford says he’s smoked pot.

Almost everyone on the political scene seems to have tried it, at one point or another, except for Stephen Harper.

The prime minister chuckled during a media scrum Thursday when asked if he too is part of the parade of politicians who’ve come out recently to concede they’ve smoked marijuana.

He took the opportunity to hammer Trudeau and the federal Liberals on the issue, accusing them of promoting pot use among children at the expense of developing an economic policy.

“Do I seem like I smoke marijuana?” Harper asked in response to a reporter’s question.

“Ya never know,” the journalist replied.

Harper said his asthma precluded smoking.

“From a very young age, I have been an asthmatic and smoking anything has been out of the question since the time I was very small,” he said during an event where he announced the introduction of legislation to better protect children against sexual exploitation.

The cavalcade of cannabis confessions was prompted by Trudeau’s admission last week that he’s smoked pot in the past, at least once since becoming an MP.

Since then, a bevy of other political leaders have joined the discussion, which has focused attention on a recent Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police proposal that marijuana possession be made a simple ticketing offence.

The association considers this would be more efficient than laying criminal charges, but it remains firmly opposed to decriminalization.

Harper said the government is studying the proposal very carefully.

He repeated his earlier criticism of Trudeau, saying the Liberal leader “displayed poor judgment” with his marijuana use.

“I look at the contrast with him promoting marijuana use for our children versus saying yesterday he will have no economic policy for several years,” Harper said.

The debate comes as researchers published a new study, which concluded pot use may be riskier for teenagers than previously believed.

The research, conducted by the Universite de Montreal and New York’s Icahn School of Medicine, says the nature of the teenage brain makes marijuana use particularly problematic and could lead to the development of addictive behaviours.

It reviewed more than 120 studies and concluded that pot use during adolescence interferes with natural brain development and may hardwire some addictions into adulthood.

Trudeau said that is precisely why he is proposing legalization because it would mean regulation and give authorities more opportunity to keep the drug from children.

“We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars a year on a plan that is not keeping marijuana out of the hands of our teens,” Trudeau said, during a caucus retreat in Georgetown, P.E.I. “Instead, (we’re) incarcerating and giving criminal records to hundreds of thousands of Canadians over the past few years in a way that’s not useful, in any way, in keeping marijuana out of the hands of our teens.”

—With files from Joan Bryden in Georgetown, P.E.I.

Organizations: Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, Universite de Montreal, Icahn School of Medicine

Geographic location: OTTAWA, Georgetown, New York

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Recent comments

  • Too Funny
    August 30, 2013 - 12:26

    "Do I seem like I smoke marijuana?" No, but maybe he should.

  • H JEFFORD
    August 29, 2013 - 21:32

    I Do not smoke pot . I hear that people use it for medical reasons. I do have a drink now and then, I know a lot of people that do smoke pot regularly, A lot of people say it relaxes them. But who are we to say that a person that has a drink or two has a problem, or a person that smokes pot to relax has a problem, There are a lot of Doctors that smoke pot to relax and a lot of people in every walk of life has a drink or two to relax, Drs. Lawyers . judges and yes Political members. so why speak out about only a few and black list them?

  • Dwayne Cull
    August 29, 2013 - 20:06

    Hey Steve, how are you supposed to "seem like a guy who smokes marijuana" ? Oh I know, just like you are supposed to be able to identify someone who has a glass of wine at supper or a brandy before going to bed...thats how!! Get a life, you're on something to think the Canadian public are that stupid!!

  • A mom
    August 29, 2013 - 20:03

    Here I am sitting watching these so call people who want to run our provinces,our country,listen to yourselves people sure everyone sometime in their life could have smoked pot,hash,popped pills I'm sure you also drove your car after having a couple of beers,drinks,martini,s but don't you know it's all illegal no matter what way you look at it,our young children watching this on the news,doing school reports on these politicians and we are sitting here preaching to our children don't try drugs,don't smoke cigarettes,don't drink alcohol and especially don't drink and drink,now you have all these asses saying it's ok we done it,then we have kids saying "see mom" grow up if you want to run our Country try running it with a straight head,don't come on TV and say that weed don't do anything to you,I have seen people stoned on weed they certainly didn't get it from fresh air.No it's not ok.

  • Ethel Hiscock
    August 29, 2013 - 18:16

    Do they also disclose who the drug dealer was that they acquired this "illegal" drug from?. The last time I checked it could only be acquired legally with a medical prescription. It is amazing how flippantly they disclose their encounters with this "illegal drug". .Maybe their "drug dealers" might be able to set them up with an even better "illegal drug" if they continue to feel they need such substances to feel good about life. I think that this is sending the wrong message to my children and grandchildren. I guess all of the drug dealers are really happy that their business is going to pick up with all of this exposure and they may even obtain a few more new customers looking to follow our politicians and experience what it is that they are experiencing.. If these people do it then what the harm ????Oh my I am so scared for my grandchildren having to grow up in this "anything goes" society. Very disappointing role models for sure.

  • Second Hand Stench
    August 29, 2013 - 16:46

    The stench of marijuana, something like toxic chemical mixed into horse manure, is part of the problem with legalization. In the ultra exclusive suburbs with sprawling estates that Trudeau types are used to, you can not smell what your neighbours are up to. In the real world, especially in the cities, you can not avoid knowing when your neighbuors are smoking the wacky backy. At various times I have had to close my windows on a hot summer day because I was getting a headache, almost as if I was getting a little buzz, as my neighbours were smoking it on their doorsteps just a few feet down wind. I would do the same with second hand tobacco smoke even though it does not have the same stench and buzz effect. Most smokers know to stay up wind from non-smokers but marijuana smokers seems not to notice or care. Why should I have to board up my windows just because Trudeau-ites want to get high?

  • Darren
    August 29, 2013 - 15:52

    The rank hypocrisy of this one. What about that beer you won from President Obama from the 2010 Olympics, Steve? How did that Molson and Yuengling taste? Was that promoting alcoholism to children at the expense of an economic agenda? An estimated 6, 700 alcohol-related deaths in Canada per year. Which destroys more young lives, again?

  • Ballylou
    August 29, 2013 - 15:24

    I agree.