By: Jaya Sisodia
Chief medical officer Prof Dame Sally Davies yesterday admitted eating hash cookies at university in the 1970s.
She also told BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions programme that drug addiction should be treated as a medical issue rather than a criminal one.
Speaking of her university days in the early 1970s, she said: “I never smoked, so I couldn’t smoke joints, but I did have some cookies.”
Dame Sally said she had them “three or four times” but added: “One time I had hallucinations and I’ve never touched it since.”
The 63-year-old added: “I understood though that what my father said to me when I told him I was going to try it.
“He said, ‘Drugs decivilise you, you stop being a civilised person’. And I understood why so many people were against even the soft drugs.
“Addiction is a medical problem, and it becomes a public health problem. And then our society is choosing to treat that as a criminal justice issue.”
She also spoke of the time when, as a young doctor, she “shocked” colleagues by hugging a dying patient.
Dame Sally, who lost her second husband to leukaemia in 1982, said she had watched people die and realised how important physical contact was. She added: “I’ve watched people die, and realised how important physical touch is as we depart this world.”
Dame Sally was recently named as one of the top 10 most powerful women in the country by BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour.
She earlier this year criticised Government policy of “criminalising” all people who take illegal drugs and said they should be treated primarily as if they have a “health problem”.
A Department of Health spokesman said: “Drugs ruin lives and cause misery to families and this Government is committed to breaking the cycle of drug dependency.
“The UK approach is to consider drug use as both a health and criminal issue and so the CMO is not saying anything new.”