HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html At 84, Berton Reveals Not All Joints Painful
Pubdate: Fri, 15 Oct 2004
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 The Toronto Star
Author: Christopher Hutsul
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Teaches Tv Viewers How To Roll Doobie On Cbc Next Week. Celebrated
Author Says He First Turned To Pot In His 40s

For decades, Canadians relied on Pierre Berton for the straight

But no one would have guessed from the bow ties, the silver comb-over
and the stiff upper lip that the legendary Canadian broadcaster and
newsman actually smoked the stuff.

Berton, now 84, told the Toronto Star that he's been a recreational
marijuana smoker since the '60s, and will show Canadian audiences how
to roll a joint on Monday's season premiere of Rick Mercer's Monday

"I enjoy the odd joint but I never go overboard," said Berton, who
conceded that he is actually "terrible" at rolling, and prefers to use
a small device to facilitate the process. "I smoke about once a month
to help me relax."

Berton, a former editor and columnist at the Star, became a fixture in
Canadian media throughout the '60s and '70s as host of the Pierre
Berton Show. He's the author of such titles as 1967: The Last Good
Year and Farewell to the Twentieth Century.

And while he has no qualms about discussing it, Berton doesn't
attribute any of his success in Canadian media to his marijuana use.

"While I'm working I never smoke or drink anything," he

Berton appears in a regular segment of Mercer's show called Celebrity
Tip, in which high profile Canadians explain how to perform simple
household functions.

"First of all, you need a good rolling surface," Berton deadpans in
the clip as he guides a young assistant. "Start in the middle, roll
outwards, and let your thumbs do most of the work ..."

Once complete, Berton scrutinized the joint and pronounces his
approval: "firm but not too firm."

Berton doesn't recall the specifics of his first experimentation with
dope, but says it happened when he was in his 40's. Before then, he
had no access to the drug.

"When I was in my 20s, the only thing we had was liquor," he said.
"I'd never heard of marijuana. But I gave it a couple tries in the
'60s and it was all right."

While Berton isn't interested in becoming Canada's next poster boy for
the legalization of marijuana, he believes our current laws are
dysfunctional and outdated.

"We could save the taxpayers an enormous amount of money by
(legalizing marijuana)," he said. "We've been putting people in jails
for planting the stuff for years and it hasn't worked. It's the same
as prohibition in the U.S. in the '30s. All it does is create an
enormous criminal body."

"If people who are of age want to have a smoke let them have a smoke,
I say."

The federal government plans to re-introduce a bill in the near future
that would remove the criminal penalty for possession of 30 grams of
marijuana, which, depending on how you roll them, amounts to several

Mercer said yesterday that the item filmed Wednesday was "quite a
coup" for his show that he was thrilled just to meet Berton, let alone
spend a couple of hours in his home, discussing how to avoid "toke

The show's host added he didn't know whether it was real pot ("on the
show you don't see anyone smoking anything") and he professed not to
remember whether it was provided by the show's staff or the great author.

Berton doesn't expect his joint-rolling tutorial or his pronouncement
to cause his reputation to go up in smoke.

"I suppose people will get a kick out of it," he said. "But I've
reached the stage in life where I don't give a damn what I say or what
people think."

Rick Mercer's Monday Report airs on CBC Monday at 9 pm.
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