Trudeau admits he smoked pot as MP; gets teased over not drinking coffee
Published Thursday, August 22, 2013 12:06PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, August 22, 2013 7:12PM EDT
Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau took to social media Thursday to express regret over an interview in which he discussed his marijuana use and made a startling admission: he doesn’t drink coffee.
In an interview with the Huffington Post that focused on his history of marijuana use and the evolution of his opinion about legalizing the drug, Trudeau admitted that he had smoked pot after being elected MP for Papineau in 2008.
He said he last smoked marijuana three years ago, when a joint was passed around by close friends he and his wife had invited over for a backyard party, and said cigarettes, alcohol or harder drugs have never appealed to him.
But his admission that he never drinks coffee led to much teasing on Twitter. Journalists wondered if his abstention from caffeine included tea, soda, chocolate and Red Bull, and joked whether a politician not fuelled by caffeine is fit for public office.
“Realizing I may have made a major mistake in my openness and transparency: vicious attacks coming because I don’t drink coffee #oops,” Trudeau tweeted Thursday morning.
Realizing I may have made a major mistake in my openness and transparency: vicious attacks coming because I don’t drink coffee. #oops— Justin Trudeau, MP (@JustinTrudeau) August 22, 2013
The joke was re-tweeted more than 600 times, and “favourited” by 300 people.
Reporters asked Trudeau about the interview Thursday after he met with Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume, specifically whether he thought his past drug use was a mistake.
“No, it wasn't a mistake," Trudeau said."I do not consume cannabis. I am not a big consumer at all. I tried it.”
Trudeau added that he has tried marijuana “maybe five or six times in my life,” and has never tried “other types of hard drugs.”
When asked about Trudeau’s admission during his trip to the Arctic, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the Liberal leader’s actions “speak for themselves,” and offered no further comment.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay, however, had strong words for his House of Commons colleague, saying that, “By smoking marijuana as a Member of Parliament, Justin Trudeau demonstrates a profound lack of judgment.
“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."
The Huffington Post asked all party leaders when they last smoked pot. The Prime Minister’s Office said Harper had never tried it because he suffers from asthma, while NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair’s office said he had smoked pot but would not say when he last did.
On Thursday afternoon, Mulcair’s office clarified that he has not smoked pot since he was first elected to public office. Mulcair was elected to Quebec’s National Assembly in 1994.
Trudeau has made headlines in recent months for his calls to legalize marijuana, the benefits of which he suggests would include keeping it away from children.
In 2009, Trudeau voted in favour of mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana possession, and on Thursday admitted to reporters that his private behaviour did not match his public actions in his early days as an MP. He answered “yes” to a reporter’s question about whether he had done one thing but said another.
Last month, Trudeau told supporters at a rally in Kelowna, B.C. that he is no longer in favour of decriminalizing cannabis.
“I’m actually in favour of legalizing it; tax and regulate it,” Trudeau said to cheers from the crowd. “It’s one of the only ways to keep it out of the hands of our kids, because the current war on drugs, the current model, is not working. We have to use evidence and science to make sure that we’re moving forward on that.”
Trudeau repeated those sentiments shortly after that event, during a scrum with reporters and then on social media. In February, he told students at the University of Western Ontario that he moved away from advocating decriminalizing pot to supporting legalization after speaking to experts and reading the latest research.
He said that not only will legalization make it harder for young people to get their hands on marijuana, but it will also put more tax revenue in government coffers.
Last month, the federal government issued a statement saying it “has no interest in seeing marijuana legalized or made more easily available to youth.”
In his interview with the Huffington Post, Trudeau said that another factor in his change of heart over legalization was the fact that his late brother, Michel, was facing a marijuana possession charge at the time of his death in 1998. Trudeau said a police officer had found a small amount of pot in his brother’s glove compartment while investigating a car accident his brother had been in three months before he died.
Trudeau pegged the cost of enforcing marijuana laws at $500 million per year, and said of the 475,000 people who have been convicted of crimes related to the drug since Harper took office: “Those are lives ruined.”