Like Father, Like Son? The Trudeaus Chew on Grass Legalization

CANNABIS CULTURE – Canadian Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau’s support for marijuana legalization is making headlines, but he isn’t the first Trudeau to chew on the idea of reforming Canada’s marijuana laws.

The Globe and Mail published this interesting chronicdote on Tuesday from former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s then-assistant Gordon Gibson, who recalls politicking with the former PM at a 1970 “regional tour” of a bull semen factory (yes, you read that right):

That morning had arrived the long-awaited report of the Le Dain Commission on the non-medical use of drugs. Gerald Le Dain – a friend of the prime minister and eventually a Supreme Court judge – had recommended the decriminalization of marijuana, quite a bombshell in those days. Thus, the first question had little to do to do with rutting animals in the barnyard and everything to do with a young generation of humans sucking the smoke of “weed,” or “grass,” as the substance was commonly known in those days.

So here it came: “Mr. Prime Minister, what do you think of the Le Dain recommendation on marijuana?” Trudeau père was nothing if not quick, but his response startled even a long-time observer. He looked around the room and saw a blackboard. It was blank save for a permanent painting of Elsie the Cow, a well-known commercial image quite at home in this particular setting.

He walked over to the board, picked up a piece of chalk and drew a cartoonist’s speech balloon out of the cow’s mouth. Therein he wrote the following words: “I … like … grass.” And then said, “Next question.”

The room exploded in laughter. The prime minister was thought by many to be a secret smoker, though in many travels with him I saw not the slightest evidence of that. But the reply was hilariously consistent with the myth, in a way that could not be proven. The conference moved on to other matters, and in a longer time frame, the Le Dain report was of little effect, although prior to the 1980 election, Mr. Trudeau did put into the platform some minor promises that disappeared after his defeat by Joe Clark.

Gibson said he saw no evidence of Trudeau being a “secret smoker” on his many travels with the former PM, so he must have been absent during a trip to Turkey where Trudeau admitted to smoking hash from a hookah.

“I was in Turkey and these guys invited me into one of the coffee shops and passed the hookah around and I smoked it,” Trudeau said in a January 4, 1994 article titled “Trudeau glare is there for televised memoirs”, published in the Toronto Star. “What was in it, I don’t know, probably some hash. Same thing in India (and) China. I smoked all kinds of things.”

If you find that hard to chew on, look at this picture of the senior Trudeau smoking out of a hookah pipe (that may or may not have been taken by Canadian press photographer Fred Chartrand).

Of course, Justin Trudeau has taken the political debate a lot further than his father ever did by repeatedly calling for the outright legalization of marijuana – not just decriminalization like his Liberal Party forefathers – but only time will tell if he is really serious about it or just taking a page from his father’s charisma playbook to get some much-needed media attention.

In the meantime, load up your hookah with hash and read the Liberal Party’s official policy paper on the legalization of marijuana, which advocates home growing and storefront marijuana dealers.

Jeremiah Vandermeer is editor of Cannabis Culture. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Jeremiah Vandermeer
Jeremiah Vandermeer

Jeremiah Vandermeer is Cannabis Culture Chief of Operations and Editor of Cannabis Culture Magazine & Pot TV.