Canadian Prime Minister Talks About Toking Up 10/10/03

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Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien told a Canadian newspaper October 3 that he would consider trying marijuana himself once it is no longer a criminal offense. Chretien, who will retire in February, has pushed a marijuana decriminalization bill in parliament that would end criminal penalties for possession of up to 15 grams (about a half-ounce). While marijuana would remain illegal under that bill, possession would not be a crime but only a ticketable offense.

"I don't know what is marijuana," said the 69-year-old Chretien. "Perhaps I will try it when it will no longer be criminal. I will have my money for my fine and a joint in the other hand."

The remarks about marijuana smoking came in the context of a discussion with the alternative weekly the Winnipeg Free Press about Chretien's political legacy. Was Chretien concerned that liberal policies like marijuana decriminalization and support for same-sex marriages would color how he was remembered? Not at all, the prime minister said. "The decriminalization of marijuana is making normal what is the practice," he explained. "It is still illegal, but do you think Canadians want their kids, 18 years old or 17, who smoke marijuana once and get caught by the police, to have a criminal record for the rest of their life? So what has happened is so illogical that they are not prosecuted any more. So let's make the law adjust to the realities. It is still illegal, but they will pay a fine. It is in synch with the times."

As for same-sex marriage, Chretien told the Free Press that the government's hand was forced by the courts, but the same general principle held in both cases. "For me, it is better to err on the side of giving more rights than taking away rights."

Chretien's uncommonly candid remarks predictable stirred reaction among the reactionaries. "To suggest to our young people that you can just start smoking marijuana, and just pay the fine and be done with it, is just irresponsible," said rightist Canadian Alliance Member of Parliament Randy White, who is also vice-chair of the House of Commons drug committee.

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Issue #306, 10/10/03 Editorial: Summer's Over -- Long Live Summer | Curtain Closes on Ontario's Summer of Legalization: Court Ruling Reinstates Possession Law, Loosens Medical Marijuana Rules | Change the Climate Ad Campaign Riles DC Pundits, Politicos | California in the Era of Arnold | New England "Governors' Summit" on Drugs: Drug War Horse and Pony Show Inside, Protestors Outside | This Week in History | Urgent Action Appeal on Singapore Drug Case from Amnesty International | Newsbrief: In Fall Term, Supreme Court Rejects South Carolina Crack Mom Appeal, Accepts Case on Ex-Drug User's Rights Under Americans With Disabilities Act | Newsbrief: Georgia Supreme Court Throws Out Driver Drug Test Law | Newsbrief: Walters Lies Pile Up in Canada Diatribe | Canadian Prime Minister Talks About Toking Up | Newsbrief: Sarasota Police Lure Would-Be Drug Dealers for Profit | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop Story | Newsbrief: Pentagon Adds Drugs to List of Foes in Afghanistan | Newsbrief: Vacation in Bermuda? Anti-Marijuana Campaign Underway | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar
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