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Canada Green leader apologizes for not smoking pot

Green Party leader Elizabeth May speaks at a federal election campaign news conference in Toronto, September 12, 2008. Canadians will head to the polls in a federal election October 14. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The leader of Canada’s Green Party, unveiling an election platform that includes a proposal to legalize marijuana, apologized on Wednesday for not having smoked pot.

“I am not a fan of marijuana use. I have to confess this -- I know all politicians are asked. I’ve never used marijuana. I apologize,” said Elizabeth May, who won extra attention this year by being allowed to join the televised national leaders’ debates.

The Greens’ platform proposes to allow the sale of marijuana to adults through licensed distribution outlets, generating about C$1 billion ($925 million) annually in taxes.

The more high-profile part of the party’s platform would impose C$36 billion to C$37 billion a year in carbon taxes on fossil fuels as part of a program -- similar to a more modest plan proposed by the Liberal Party -- to shift taxation from income to consumption.

May also said the Green Party would slash military spending and subsidies to industry, and keep the federal budget in surplus.

The Greens poll at about 8 to 10 percent at the moment and could be hard pressed to keep their one seat in Parliament.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson