Pot’s “cool” factor is fading fast

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Never to be outdone – especially not by a Liberal usurper to the parliamentary throne – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (how is that guy even alive?) now professes to have smoked pot. Whereas Justin Trudeau confirms that he has sucked back on a spliff maybe six times in his life (yeah, right), Hog Town’s burgemeister giggles, “Oh yeah, I won’t deny . . .I smoked a lot of it.”

Given his performance in office, that particular admission is not likely to cheer those who insist that marijuana does not impair one’s judgement. Still, he does appear to be in good company.

Ever since Mr. Trudeau’s calculated announcement this month, elected officials from all points on the political spectrum have been fairly tripping over themselves to cash in on this newest “cool” factor in Canadian politics.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says smoking pot is among the “personal decisions that people make. I’m not going to weight in on a decision of another politician or individual.” As for her own “personal decisions,” she adds, “I have smoked marijuana, but not for the last 35 years. . .and certainly not since my children were born. It has never been a big part of my life.”

Liberal MP Wayne Easter says, “Yes I tried it once about probably 40, 45 years ago now and once what enough for me.”

His colleague Sean Casey explains, “I did as a teenager, I tried it couple of times. I didn’t like it, I was never a smoker and I hacked and coughed so much it didn’t do anything for me, quite frankly.”

Meanwhile, Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay sounds almost ashamed when he admits “I have never smoked marijuana. . .Well I guess down in Magel it was hard to find. I didn’t know much about it back then.”

It’s the same species of answer that Nova Scotia Liberal Leader, Stephen McNeil, gives when he says he, too, is a virgin to weed: “It probably has something to do with a mother who was a sheriff and five brothers who are law enforcement officers.”

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak was actually out front on this issue back in 2011 when he volunteered, “I was a normal kid, I had a normal upbringing, a normal life in university. I experimented from time to time with marijuana. In other words, it was nothing to write home about in the “grand scheme of things.”

At around that time, U.S. President Barack Obama cracked up the Washington press corps when, in response to a question about whether he ever inhaled, he declared: “Frequently. . .That was the point.”

As a Wikipedia entry points out, “Prior to prohibition, U.S. politicians known for growing cannabis include some of the nation’s Founding Fathers and Presidents.” There’s Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, and James Madison. There’s also Franklin Pierce, Zachary Taylor and George Washington.

More recently, since pot’s interdiction, a virtual bevy of prominent baby boomers have admitted to using the stuff, including Bill Clinton, Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the current U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

All of which raises the question: How cool can something be if everyone is (or was) doing it?

I was roundly considered a nerd in high school in large part because I refused to  toke up. I wish I could say this was one of my principled stands. The truth is I didn’t like the smell, though I didn’t (still don’t) begrudge anyone else’s decision to partake.

The legal alcohol I consume actually makes me more of an outlier (if not an especially cool one) than the marijuana some of my friends and associates smoke. I’m edgy and dangerous, flirting with disaster. In contrast, they’re all too bloody normal, even, dare I say, conformist.

Rob Ford – who has been lambasted in the press for his alleged appearance in a video with drug dealers and his infamous declaration, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine” – wonders why all these politicians “are all coming out” regarding their use of marijuana. It is, he seems to suggest, no big deal.

For once, he’s dead right.

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