Source: Vancouver Sun (CN BC)
Author: Troy Reeb, CanWest News Service
Published: Saturday, November 08, 2003
Copyright: 2003 Vancouver Sun
Contact: [email protected]
Jack Layton castigated by justice minister for 'irresponsible' remarks about marijuana.
Ottawa -- Marijuana is a "wonderful substance" that should be legalized, not just decriminalized, says NDP Leader Jack Layton.
Canadians must be able to freely purchase or grow their own pot, Layton said in a recent interview with Pot TV, a Vancouver-based Internet site.
He accused the Liberal government of "not going nearly far enough" with its current plan to ensure simple possession doesn't result in a criminal record.
In a videotaped segment on the site, Layton appeals directly to pot smokers, encouraging them to join the NDP and help create "a legal environment in which people can enjoy their marijuana in the peace and quiet of their own home or in a cafe."
Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, the man steering the government's legislation, told Global National it would be "irresponsible" to do as Layton suggests and remove all penalties for marijuana.
"He should consult with Health Canada and he would understand cannabis is a harmful product and people shouldn't be using cannabis."
"Maybe he's trying to take over the Marijuana party," joked Canadian Alliance MP John Reynolds, who also accused Layton of making "irresponsible" comments.
"I think everyone knows Jack Layton well enough to know he often blows smoke to make a point," said New Democrat MP Alexa McDonough, the former party leader.
In Saskatoon on Friday for an NDP rally, Layton acknowledged that his use of the word wonderful to describe marijuana was "sensational."
But, he insisted his comments would not alienate the party's grassroots.
"The current law being proposed is going to make it a criminal offence to pass a joint from one person to another," he said, adding that without providing for a legal supply of marijuana, the government could actually be boosting organized crime.
"That's not decriminalization by anyone's definition."
Marc Emery, the marijuana advocate and seed salesman who runs Pot TV, certainly seemed convinced, telling Layton, "We're looking for someone -- I don't want to use the word "saviour" -- but we're looking for someone like yourself."
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