'I smoked cannabis,' admits drugs minister
UK - A new drugs minister has admitted smoking cannabis, it emerged today.
Vernon Coaker said he had had "one or two puffs of marijuana" while a student at Warwick University.
The Home Office minister, who was handed his new role on May 5, denied taking hard drugs.
He told the Coventry Evening Telegraph: "When I was a student, I took one or two puffs of marijuana but that was it. I think it was once or twice."
Mr Coaker told the newspaper he had not enjoyed the experience and decided not to do it again.
The MP for Gedling praised the efforts of drugs workers in Coventry during his first official visit in the role.
The minister with responsibility for drugs policy was visiting the city as part of a nine-month nationwide tour to see how the Government's Drug Strategy is affecting communities.
A Home Office spokeswoman said: "The minister briefly tried cannabis at university in the 1970s on one or two occasions.
"This is clearly a very long time ago, when he was a student. The minister has been open about his past experiences and is fully committed to taking forward the Government's drugs strategy."
A former Government whip, Mr Coaker's previous jobs include stints as parliamentary private secretary to Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell and to former Education Secretary Estelle Morris.