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Labour's Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry admits she 'smoked dope many decades ago'

22 March 2024, 12:14

Emily Thornberry admits she has taken drugs in the past

By Kit Heren

Emily Thornberry has admitted that she smoked cannabis while at university.

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Labour's Shadow Attorney General told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that she "smoked dope... many decades ago."

Asked by Nick whether politicians taking drugs in the past mattered, Ms Thornberry said: "That's up to the public really. I mean, it was a long time ago."

Laughing, she added, seemingly by way of explanation: "I am myself". But she would not be pressed on when exactly she last smoked cannabis.

Ms Thornberry was speaking after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer refused to say whether or not he had taken drugs.

Read more: 'Isn't this just decriminalising heroin?': Tom Swarbrick questions Labour MSP over first safe drug consumption room

Read more: Commander behind Met's drug strategy sacked after refusing drug test following cannabis claims

Watch Again: Nick Ferrari is joined by Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry | 22/03/24

Asked by the Sun whether he had dabbled in illicit substances, he said: "I had a good time when I was a student."

When asked for clarification, the state's former top lawyer responded: "It means I had a good time when I was a student."

Cannabis is a Class B drug, and being found with it by police can land users with a £90 fine on the spot.

Repeat offenders can get much stricter punishments, with Class B drug possession bearing a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine or both.

Some have pushed for legalisation, given that cannabis use is quite widespread, in the hope of reducing the violent gang crime associated with drugs.

Emily Thornberry
Emily Thornberry. Picture: Alamy

But Labour have said that they have no intention of legalisation if they gain power.

Sir Keir told Politico last September: "Other countries will take the different approaches they traditionally have, but our approach is settled and not really a subject of great debate even within the Labour Party."

Labour's mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in 2022 that he was interested in decriminalising cannabis, but has since admitted the London Drugs Commission he set up to review the matter is "on the back burner".

Ms Thornberry herself has said she is against legalising cannabis - arguing that getting drugs out into the open would not solve the anti-social behaviour problems they often create.

Proponents of cannabis legalisation argue that it would reduce gang crime
Proponents of cannabis legalisation argue that it would reduce gang crime. Picture: Alamy

She told the i in 2022: "The people you don’t hear enough are those like the old woman I spoke to recently, who said she was frightened to leave her flat because there was always a group of young boys smoking cannabis at the bottom of the stairwell.

"We don’t hear enough from the mothers of those boys who are off their heads the whole time and so separate from the rest of society.

"I don’t think that if it’s legalised… we will crack that problem."

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