PM promises to decriminalize pot if re-elected

Written by News Staff
Last Updated 04 Jun 2004 14:42:47

Prime Minister Paul Martin pledged Friday that he would decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of marijuana if Canadians re-elect his Liberal Party in the coming federal election.

Speaking at a day care centre in Halifax, Martin told reporters he remains committed to passing legislation that would bring fines -- not criminal sentences -- to people caught with 15 grams of pot or less.

An initial decriminalization bill brought forward under Jean Chretien's government died when Martin took over as PM, but was later re-introduced.

That second bill also died when parliament was dissolved last month following the election call.

Martin said he planned to "bring back the legislation that died on the order paper."

His position on pot was echoed by Conservative Leader Stephen Harper. Speaking in Ontario, Harper said marijuana should remain illegal, but said he preferred fines rather than jail term for possession under five grams.

Both leaders joked with reporters on questions related to personal drug use.

Martin made reference to a story dating from the 1960s that he and wife Sheila had eaten brownies laced with hashish.

"Did I smoke it? No. Therefore I didn't inhale. But there is a rumour going around that I've eaten brownies," he said.
Harper, meanwhile, said alcohol had ruined his shot at getting high.

"I was offered a joint once and I was too drunk," Harper said. "But the serious answer is that I'm an asthmatic, so I've never smoked anything."