Forty years ago, cannabis activist Andy Rapoch vented his frustration to Ottawa reporters over the Liberal government’s policy to enforce prohibition while at the same time repeatedly promising decriminalization. Years were passing by, and arrests continued for things the Trudeaus were clearly enjoying themselves. Margaret Trudeau didn’t hide her cannabis use while living at 24 Sussex Drive, and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau later admitted that he was no stranger to the hookah back in the day:
“I was in Turkey and these guys invited me into one of the coffee shops and passed the hookah around and I smoked it. What was in it, I don’t know, probably some hash. Same thing in India (and) China. I smoked all kinds of things.” – Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau
Years later, the Prime Minister’s former aide revealed that when news broke that his royal commission had recommended decriminalization, “Trudeau père” found a chalkboard, “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.‘”
Such reports exposed, according to Rapoch, “the absolute hypocrisy of the law… The majority arrested are students. Meanwhile, middle class and upwardly mobile persons, such as Mrs. Trudeau, escape arrest.” History has a way of repeating itself…
Maggie points up hypocrisy, pot lobby tells Lalonde
By Paul Whitelaw, Parliamentary Bureau
Ottawa Journal, March 16, 1979
Margaret Trudeau’s quoted statement the RCMP knew she smoked “pot” in the prime minister’s residence hasn’t endeared her to NORML Canada, the National Organization for the Reform of the Marijuana Laws.
“Margaret Trudeau is probably a liability to the cause of marijuana decriminalization,” says NORML executive director Andy Rapoch.
He told a news conference Thursday that “the carryings on” of the PM’s estranged wife “don’t make the greatest climate” in which to sell politicians and the public on the desirability of relaxing marijuana laws.
Rapoch said that if Mrs. Trudeau’s quoted remarks about using marijuana at 24 Sussex Dr. are accurate, the failure of the RCMP to press criminal charges points up “the absolute hypocrisy of the law.”
The majority arrested are students, he said. Meanwhile, middle class and upwardly mobile persons, such as Mrs. Trudeau, escape arrest.
The NORML news conference was called to criticize justice minister’ Marc Lalonde’s failure, so far, to present to Parliament his promised marijuana decriminalization legislation.
Lalonde has promised on several occasions to bring in a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small quantities of marijuana before the next election.
The justice minister stated last month the bill was being delayed because of opposition by the Creditistes, the nine member caucus of Quebec Social Credit MPs. The Conservatives and NDP have indicated they would support decriminalization.
But Rapoch said Thursday Creditiste justice spokesman Leonel Beaudoin has agreed to the principal of decriminalization, removing the apparent last obstacle.
However, an aide to the justice minister said passage of decriminalization – should a bill be introduced before an election is called – appears unlikely.
“There would have to be unanimous consent for quick passage,” noted Lalonde’s assistant, “and there would be opposition from a number of individual MPs who don’t agree with the official position of their caucuses.”
Justice department officials, he added, are currently drafting a bill that would include marijuana law changes as part of more sweeping narcotics law reforms.