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Ardern admits in heated debate to trying cannabis 'a long time ago'

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Jacinda Ardern during the live TV debate in held Auckland. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Pool via REUTERS

Jacinda Ardern during the live TV debate in held Auckland. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Pool via REUTERS

Jacinda Ardern during the live TV debate in held Auckland. Photo: Fiona Goodall/Pool via REUTERS

New Zealand's prime minister Jacinda Ardern said she tried cannabis "a long time ago" when asked during a heated live debate yesterday ahead of the October 17 ­general election.

Ms Ardern (40) is widely expected to win a second term in office on the back of her success in containing Covid-19 but her rival, National Party leader Judith Collins, has been clawing back support.

New Zealanders are also voting on two other issues - on legalising recreational cannabis and euthanasia - topics that have split opinions in the country.

In the second election debate yesterday, when asked by the moderator if she has ever used cannabis, Ms Ardern said: "Yes I did, a long time ago."

But she said she will only reveal which way she voted on the cannabis referendum after the election.

"I made a clear decision that I want the public of New Zealand to decide this and I want this not to be about politics," she said. Ms Collins, however, said she has never used cannabis and would vote against it.

In the wide-ranging debate, both leaders were also asked if US President Donald Trump was a dangerous influence on the world.

Ms Collins said Mr Trump had done well recently on the peace deal between Israel and some Gulf nations.

"Actually, that's better than war. He hasn't been ready to rush into war," said Ms Collins.

Ms Ardern shot back, saying: "It is a worry when the best thing you can say is we haven't had war."

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Ms Ardern last month took exception to Mr Trump's comments that New Zealand was experiencing a surge in Covid-19, describing his ­comments as "patently wrong".

"The idea that we would be compared to the outbreak in the US by President Trump, I totally reject that and I stand by my response," said Ms Ardern, whose brand of liberal, inclusive and compassionate leadership has led to some labelling her "the anti-Trump".

New Zealand has had 25 coronavirus-related deaths, among the lowest in the world, while fatalities in the US have exceeded 200,000.


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