Two ministers in cannabis admission
Two Home Office ministers have admitted smoking cannabis when at university.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith’s confession that she had taken the drug was followed by a similar declaration by Home Office Minister Tony McNulty.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was a matter for individual ministers “to decide how to answer these questions”.
Ms Smith was asked on GMTV whether she had taken the drug as she was talking about the Prime Minister’s announcement on Wednesday that there would be a review of its classification. She immediately responded: “I have. I did when I was at university. I haven’t done for at least 25 years.”
Then later, Mr McNulty told BBC News 24: “At university I encountered it, I smoked it once or twice, and I don’t think many people who were at university at the time didn’t at least encounter it.”
Ms Smith told GMTV: “I think it was wrong that I smoked it when I did. I have not done for 25 years. I share other people’s concerns about the effect that cannabis has on young people and mental health problems.
“So, actually I think in some ways I have learnt my lesson and I have a responsibility as Home Secretary now to make sure we put in place the laws and the support and information to make sure we carry on bringing cannabis use down, which we are doing.”
Asked how she felt about people who thought her admission might make her unfit to be Home Secretary, she said: “On the whole I think people think human beings should do jobs like this. I am not proud about it, I did the wrong thing.”
Appearing later on Sky News, she faced more questions and insisted she had only ever taken cannabis, saying: “I have never taken any other drugs.” People would expect her to be honest and do what she was elected to do and, in the end, would judge her on that basis, she said.
Mr Brown’s spokesman, asked about Ms Smith’s admission, said: “This is a matter for ministers. There is no No 10 edict on this one way or another. The Prime Minister thinks this is a matter for individual ministers to decide how to answer these questions. He has no issue with how she dealt with this question.” Mr Brown has consistently said he has never taken illegal drugs.