Michael Gove says it was 'worse than a mistake' to take cocaine trends now
Michael Gove today admitted it was 'worse than a mistake' to take cocaine as he was challenged over championing a nitrous oxide ban.
The Levelling Up Secretary insisted it is not hypocritical for him to support making so-called 'Hippy Crack' illegal because he had 'learned' from his experiences.
Mr Gove has previously acknowledged that he used cocaine. During the 2019 Tory leadership contest he said: 'I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago... I look back and think ''I wish I hadn't done that''.'
Appearing on Sky News' Ridge on Sunday programme this morning, Mr Gove was asked whether he is 'really going to give people a criminal record for taking laughing gas' given his own history.
Michael Gove today admitted it was 'worse than a mistake' to take cocaine as he was challenged over championing a nitrous oxide ban
In recent years there have been growing concerns about the impact of nitrous oxide on a user's health as well as the 'epidemic' of the silver canisters (pictured) littering public spaces
Mr Gove replied: 'Well, we want to make sure we deal with the scourge and it is the case that we need to be clear that there types of activity, particular types of activity that cause distress to others in public that are unacceptable...'
Pressed that there was a 'bit of an issue' with politicians who have used drugs themselves being 'hypocritical,' Mr Gove replied: 'No, I think, it's because I've learned.'
Challenged on what he had learned, the Cabinet minister said: 'That it is a mistake, worse than a mistake, to regard drug taking as somehow acceptable.'
The wriggling came as Rishi Sunak pledged to put 'community justice' at the heart of an anti-social behaviour clampdown.
It will mean giving victims and local residents a say in what punishments are meted out – such as placing vandals in shaming jumpsuits while they publicly repair the damage they caused.
On-the-spot fines for those caught fly-tipping will more than double from £400 to £1,000, while those littering or spraying graffiti face being hit with £500 fines – up from the current £150 maximum.
The PM told the Mail on Sunday ahead of the launch of the package: 'The community fightback starts now.'
The government's advisory committee recently recommended the government stops short of a blanket block on nitrous oxide.
Nitrous Oxide, has been nicknamed 'laughing gas' due to the euphoric and relaxed feeling people who inhale it can sometimes feel.
The substance - also known as 'hippy crack' - is normally bought in pressured canisters, commonly transferred to a container, e.g. a balloon, from which the gas is inhaled.
Although possession of laughing gas is not illegal, English law prohibits its sale to under-18s if there is a chance they will inhale it.
The effects of nitrous oxide:
• Feelings of euphoria, relaxation and calmness.
• Dizziness, difficulty in thinking straight and fits of giggles/laughter.
• Sound distortions or even hallucinations.
• In some people, a headache can be an unwanted immediate effect.
• Unconsciousness or death from lack of oxygen. This occurs when the available oxygen for breathing is effectively pushed out by the nitrous oxide.
Asked on Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme whether 'Hippy Crack' would be banned, Mr Gove said: 'Yes.
'I think any of us who have had the opportunity to walk through our parks in our major cities will have seen these little canisters, these silver canisters which are examples of people not only despoiling public spaces but also people taking a drug which can have a psychological and neurological affect and one that contributes to anti-social behaviour overall.'
He said ministers had not yet decided at what drug classification level laughing gas would be set at.
Mr Gove added: 'We want to make sure the sale and use can be restricted for its appropriate purpose.
'We can't have a situation, we mustn't have a situation where our parks, our public spaces become drug-taking arenas. And that is why we need to crackdown on new manifestations of drug taking and these laughing gas canisters are an increasing scourge and one that has been reported to me as a constituency MP.'
Ministers are also considering plans for suspects to be tested for drugs as part of a 'hotspot' policing strategy, which comes in response to shocking evidence that half of all crime is carried out in just five per cent of areas.
Community patrols will also be given a funding boost to help tackle the menace.
There are also likely to be new laws against nuisance begging and a ban on the sale and possession of nitrous oxide – laughing gas – to combat the scourge of empty metal canisters littering the streets where youths congregate, as well as enhanced powers for landlords to evict problem tenants.
Mr Sunak said: 'Dropping litter, fly-tipping and graffitiing show an unacceptable lack of respect for everyone else in a community. While many up and down the country work so hard to make communal areas such as high streets, town squares and parks look beautiful, a small minority tarnish them through their selfish, thoughtless actions. It's not right and it's not fair.
'Women and girls should feel safe walking home at