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Photo: David Lucas/Getty Images

A medical marijuana exemptee holds 15 grams of pot at a Toronto Hemp Store in this file photo.

2004/01/22

Decriminalizing pot will cost, Stronach says

Canadian Press

Conservative leadership candidate Belinda Stronach warned Thursday of the economic threat posed by proposals to decriminalize marijuana.

The 37-year-old billionaire businesswoman told an offbeat Vancouver radio show that liberalizing pot use would lead to increased searches and delays in the flow of goods at the U.S. border.

“I think it's a bigger issue than we're willing to admit if we were to decriminalize marijuana,” she told JACK-FM on the popular morning Larry and Willy show.

“If we were to decriminalize marijuana I think our great neighbour to the south would have a lot of problems with that and I think it would very much affect the Canadian economy.”

Ms. Stronach said more than $500-billion worth of goods are shipped between the two countries each year.

The political neophyte spent about 15 minutes talking to the wacky hosts, whose station is the most listened to in the morning time slot in the Vancouver area.

Ms. Stronach appeared slightly nervous when she walked into the tiny studio crowded with reporters and photographers.

She took questions from one of the hosts and others from listeners who asked how much weight she could bench press and her current marital status.

“She's pretty hot and I'm wondering if she's married,” asked one caller.

Mr. Stronach joked she wouldn't be lining up any dates over the phone right now.

On a more serious note, she outlined her main reason for seeking the leadership of the party.

“Canadians are hungry, are thirsty for a change,” she said. “I may lack the political experience [but] I also lack the political baggage.”

She got a laugh when she thanked the hosts for having her on the music and comedy-oriented talk show.

“I came on the program because I heard you guys were wild and I thought I'd try to make it more conservative,” she quipped.

Ms. Stronach, who is divorced, said her 10-year-old daughter and 12-year-old son are also intrigued by her run.

“His friend Adam said to him, ‘I heard they were talking about your mom on the radio and they were talking about her being hot and sexy' and my son was cracking up and having a hard time thinking of his mom being hot and sexy.”

Ms. Stronach also spoke early Tuesday by telephone with CBC radio and was to speak at noon to the Surrey chamber of commerce. She was in Winnipeg on Tuesday for a private meeting at a hotel.

On Tuesday night, she did the same thing at a popular pub in downtown Vancouver.

On Friday, she is to speak in Calgary at an event that has already been moved to the downtown convention centre to accommodate the larger-than-expected crowd.

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