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Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau's revelation that he smoked marijuana three years ago – as a sitting MP – has generated debate across the country, including intensive commentary from Globe readers.

As just one example, there were more than 500 online comments about this week's column by Gary Mason on the issue. He argued that attitudes about marijuana have shifted, and that Tories (who stand by current law) should be wary about going after the opposition: "It may just make Canada's governing party look dated, out of touch and even a little paranoid."

Readers seem to agree: In one way or another, they appeared to feel that current laws against marijuana are not working. Some expressed support for decriminalizing or legalizing the drug.

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"It is a relatively harmless drug, some say it is beneficial," wrote one reader. "Legalizing it will save lots of our tax dollars that are squandered on tying the legal system up with the legal penalties for marijuana."

Another posed the question: "How is having a toke any different than having a beer when you get home from work?"

Others saw Mr. Trudeau's admission as a clever political move. in one case calling him a "visionary."

"He's crafty. He knows full well that attitudes towards marijuana have changed considerably since even five years ago, and he's attempting to ride the wave," one reader wrote.

A minority of commenters were frank in their criticisms of Mr. Trudeau: "So let me get this. He is a MP and the head of his party … broke the law that he is to uphold as a member of gov't …what else are you doing that is against the law?"

There was also this blunt analysis: " Liberal leaders have been getting dumber and dumberer."

A good chunk of the discussion, however, cut below the surface, seeing pot as a symbol of a political schism in this country – a bellwether of how in (or out) of touch they are with Canadians.

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On this point, readers were overwhelmingly critical of the Conservatives. One likened the party's stance to something from prehistoric times. "It seems that Stephen Harper represents a generation of dinosaurs, which as far as I'm concerned can't become extinct fast enough."

Another reader, responding directly to Mr. Mason, wrote: "This isn't a question of [whether this issue] MAY make the governing party look dated, out of touch and slightly paranoid. The governing party IS dated, out of touch and TOTALLY paranoid; in particular, the governing party's chief."

As for Mr. Trudeau, the marijuana user?

"Honest, transparent, young, smart – all the right stuff to lead this country forward," one reader wrote of him. "I hope young voters are paying attention – it's their opportunity."

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