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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Cannabis-smoking past of Cardiff MP
Cannabis plants growing in greenhouse
Some MPs are calling for cannabis to be legalised
A former Labour minister has admitted smoking cannabis on several occasions and enjoying it.

Former Welsh Office junior minister, Jon Owen Jones - who is currently MP for Cardiff Central - said he had used the drug when he was a young man.

"I smoked it on several social occasions when I was a student and a young man as did many of my friends and colleagues," he said.

"I would not have taken it more than once if I did not like it."

Jon Owen Jones
Jon Owen Jones: Call for change
Mr Jones, a former teacher, said he had not used drugs for more than 20 years.

He said it was now time to reconsider the law on cannabis.

"Few of my generation have not either taken this drug or know those who have.

"It is time we had the courage to confront the absurdity of making criminals of millions of our young while so many of us smoke and drink ourselves to an early grave.

"I am not arguing that cannabis is not harmful, but the greatest harm it does is make an ass of the law and provide billions of pounds to the modern mafias."

Mr Jones, 46, was promoted to the post of junior minister in the Welsh Office in 1998 but returned to the back benches last year.

He had previously declined to say whether or not he had used cannabis but said the recent debate on decriminalisation had caused him to change his mind.

Cannabis cigarette being rolled
"A high proportion of young people smoke cannabis"
He said that when he was younger he believed smoking cannabis was a normal activity which most of his fellow students took part in.

"It seemed to me then that society was highly hypocritical in judging this activity to be illegal while it tolerated and indeed promoted, the consumption of alcohol and tobacco which are proven to be far more harmful," he said.

"Today a very high proportion of young people will also smoke cannabis.

"They, too, will view older society as hypocritical.

"However, there is more justification for this charge today as 25 years ago cannabis was a drug that few over 30 had experienced.

"Legislators in 1975 had at least ignorance as an excuse," he added.

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See also:

10 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Straw: Cannabis debate welcome
08 Oct 00 | Wales
'Avoid drug deaths' plea by MP
08 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Senior Tories 'smoked dope'
08 Oct 00 | Scotland
Rifkind defends 'dope-smoking' MPs
05 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Widdecombe stands by drugs policy
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