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Monday, 17 January, 2000, 16:04 GMT
Mowlam has changed drugs debate - MP

Mo Mowlam says drugs were never part of her life

Labour MP and campaigner for the legalisation of cannabis Paul Flynn has said Mo Mowlam's admission that she used the drug during her student days has "broken the mould" on the drugs debate.

The Cabinet Office Minister and the government's new anti-drugs supremo Ms Mowlam admitted at the weekend that she had experimented with marijuana but she did not enjoy the experience.

Paul Flynn: UK drug abuse is the worst in Europe

Comparing the announcement with previous revelations by politicians, Mr Flynn told the BBC: "David Prior, a Conservative MP, made the same remarks two years ago, that he had used cannabis, and his mouth was bandaged by his own party.

"He was sternly told never to talk about it again. And he hasn't."

But since then, Mr Flynn said, there had been a lot of change and the government had realised that its policies were not entirely working.

"By telling people not to do it, Britain has the worst (levels of ) drug abuse in Europe," he said.

"We have the most deaths and we are seeing a terrible increase in the use of heroin and cocaine."

Commenting on the admission, Peter Stoker of the for the National Drug Prevention Alliance said Ms Mowlam's "somewhat foolish" past behaviour did not mean people should behave foolishly now.

He said: "The sensible position is to avoid the stuff and ask other people to do the same."

Tories demand fight against drugs

Joining the debate started by Ms Mowlam's remarks the Conservatives have asked the minister to make clear her opposition to both hard and soft drugs.

Ms Mowlam's Tory shadow Andrew Lansley said: "It is a fallacy that cannabis is a harmless recreational drug - cannabis can cause serious health problems, both mental and physical, and is often a catalyst moving users on to more harmful drugs.

"The government should act to combat the fallacy of a distinction between cannabis and drugs such as heroin and cocaine."

Mr Lansley added that his remarks were not to be seen as a personal attack on Ms Mowlam: "We are not interested in the actions of Ms Mowlam many years ago," he said.

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16 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
I smoked cannabis, admits Mowlam

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