Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper caused controversy Oct. 3 when he claimed without evidence that cannabis was "infinitely worse" than tobacco. Nearly two weeks later, he doubled down on that position during a campaign stop in Vancouver.
In an interview with CKNW's Jon McComb, Harper restated the tobacco claim, arguing that Health Canada and various (un-cited) scientific studies backed him up. But his main interest in the discussion was to restate his position that legalization would put cannabis in the hands of kids.
He told McComb, "nobody wants to see their kids get into marijuana and other narcotics."
"And nobody wants to see their kids go to jail for walking around with a little pot in their pocket," McComb countered.
"They don't," Harper replied. "We all know that. You don't go to jail for having a joint."
With that statement, Harper put himself offside with Canadian law as well as science: according to British Columbia's branch of the Canadian Bar Association, a first conviction for possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis carries a penalty of a $1,000 and/or 6 months in jail. So the prime minister's claim is as dubious as his analysis of marijuana's health effects.
Here's a clip of the entire interview:
The cannabis section begins around the 6:45 mark and ends at 11:12 after the prime minister's press secretary intervened. Harper did not clarify his comment on the legality of carrying one joint. Perhaps he'll explain his remark this weekend at the rally co-organized by Rob Ford.