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New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern Admits She Used ‘Cannabis’

WELLINGTON: Jacinda Ardern, leader of New Zealand's ruling party, said she tried cannabis "a long time ago" when questioned during a heated live debate on Wednesday ahead of the general election on Oct 17. On the back of her performance in containing COVID-19, Ardern, 40, is generally seen winning a second term in office, but her opponent, conservative National Party leader Judith Collins, has been clawing back support. New Zealanders are also voting on two other subjects-recreational cannabis legalisation and euthanasia-topics that have polarised opinions in the region.

Ardern said, "Yeah, I did, a long time ago," in the second election debate on Wednesday, when asked by the moderator whether she had ever used cannabis, but she said she would only disclose how she voted for the cannabis referendum after the election. "I made a simple decision that I want this to be determined by the New Zealand public and I want this to not be about politics," she said. However, Collins said that she had never used cannabis and would advocate against it. Both leaders were also asked in the wide-ranging discussion whether the U.S. President Donald Trump  was a  dangerous influence on the globe . Collins said Trump's new peace deal between Israel and some Gulf nations has done well. "That's better than fighting, really. He wasn't ready to run into warfare," Collins said.

Ardern fired back, adding, "It's a problem that the best thing you can say is that we haven't had a war?" Ardern slammed Trump's claims last month that New Zealand was experiencing a COVID-19 surge as "patently wrong." "I completely condemn the notion that we will be compared to President Trump's outbreak in the U.S. and I stand by my reaction," Ardern said, whose style of liberal, inclusive and compassionate leadership has prompted some people to call her "anti-Trump." New Zealand has had 25 deaths linked to coronavirus, one of the lowest in the world, while casualties have reached 200,000 in the United States.

In a tumultuous and bad-tempered first debate marked by personal threats and Trump's frequent interruptions, the remarks came just hours after Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden clashed intensely.


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