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    Friday, February 13, 1998

    Cherry sees red over marijuna

     NAGANO, Japan (CP) -- Jet lag and a cold didn't slow down Don Cherry as the CBC hockey commentator opened his first Olympic Coach's Corner with a diatribe on marijuana.
     Just off a plane after a lengthy transpacific flight, Cherry seemed slightly unfocused until sidekick Ron MacLean mentioned Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, the gold medallist who tested positive for marijuana.
     "I feel sorry for the kid and I'm glad he got it (the gold medal) back and everything," Cherry said. "But I've been watching this here and you guys have been treating him like a hero.
     "It gives a bad messsage for our kids out there."
     Then Cherry warmed up to his anti-marijuana message.
     "You start with marijuana, then you go to cocaine, then you go to heroin," he said.
     "We shot poor Ben Johnson in the head. So what is it? Different kind of drugs and stuff like that? I'm glad he got it back and I'm not going to crucify the kid but you kids out there, if you're watching, you don't smoke marijuana.
     "And they said he was at a party. What the hell was he doing at a party where everybody's smoking marijuana?"
     The former Boston Bruins coach said he told his players: "If you get caught with anybody smoking marijuna, I'll cut your heart out . . . because it's not smart. I know it's the thing to do now but it's not smart, kids, to smoke marijuana."
     "That's good advice," offered MacLean. "Can't knock that."
     Cherry's comments came after the first period of today's game between Canada and Belarus.
     He opened Coach's Corner by asking where is "Bel-ooh-a or whatever it is."