Britain's interior minister admits past drug use

Britain"s Home Secretary Jacqui Smith admitted on Thursday she smoked cannabis at university -- a day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced she would examine toughening up the law on the drug.

Britain's interior minister admits past drug use

Britain"s Home Secretary Jacqui Smith admitted on Thursday she smoked cannabis at university -- a day after Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced she would examine toughening up the law on the drug.

Smith, 44, revealed she smoked cannabis on a handful of occasions while studying at Oxford 25 years ago but saw the error of her ways and has not smoked it since.

She has not dabbled in any other drugs, she insisted during a whirlwind tour of television and radio stations.

She did not tell Brown about her past drug use before he appointed her on June 28, and nor did he enquire.

“I think it was wrong that I smoked it when I did. I have not done for 25 years,” she admitted, adding that she had “not particularly” enjoyed it.

“I did break the law. I was wrong... drugs are wrong.”

Brown announced Wednesday that Smith will be tasked with considering reclassifying cannabis from a class C to a class B drug.

There are fears about the links between the stronger strains now available and mental illness like schizophrenia and psychosis.

Cannabis was downgraded in 2004 in a controversial move that placed it alongside certain prescription tranquillisers and body-building steroids and made possession a largely non-arrestable offence.

Class A drugs include cocaine, heroin, LSD and opium. Class B drugs include amphetamine and codeine. The higher the classification, the stiffer the penalties for possession and supply.

“I do think there are lots of people who share my concerns that what we have seen in recent years is an increase in the strength of some forms of cannabis,” Smith said.

Smith is by no means the first politician to admit past drug use -- her predecessor but one as home secretary, Charles Clarke, admitted smoking cannabis as a youth.

On becoming drugs minister in 2006, Vernon Coaker confessed to having smoked it too.

And former finance minister Lord Norman Lamont confirmed he had eaten the drug in a so-called “space cake.”

David Cameron, the leader of the main opposition Conservatives, refuses to answer questions about whether he took cocaine at Oxford.

Eccentric Conservative MP Boris Johnson -- who this week confirmed he will be a candidate for London mayor -- admitted trying to snort cocaine, but he sneezed and failed.

AFP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Temmuz 2007, 16:18
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