Most of the contenders to become the UK's next Prime Minister have tried at least some kind of illicit substance in their lives.
Last week, former Prime Minister Theresa May officially resigned from her position as the UK's head of government and leader of the Conservative Party. When the party moves to elect their new leader, who will automatically become the next PM, the successor will likely be someone with a history of illegal drug use.
Of the 11 candidates vying to succeed May, at least six of them have confessed to consuming controlled substances in the past. Most of these cases involve cannabis instead of harder substances. Among candidates who have confessed to pot use are Members of Parliament Andrea Leadsom, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey. Secretaries of State Jeremy Hunt (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) and Matt Hancock (Health and Social Care) have also confessed to consuming marijuana.
But the confession from Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart is more shocking. Stewart has admitted to smoking an opium pipe while attending a wedding in Afghanistan some time ago.
Meanwhile, two leadership frontrunners have confessed to using class A drugs, the most highly restricted by UK law. Both Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Michael Gove and MP Boris Johnson have openly discussed their past cocaine use.
While drug policy reform has been slow to materialize in the UK, the fact that a lawmaker can admit to cocaine use and still come out as a top party leadership candidate proves that public sentiment toward illicit substances is changing. Not only have individuals like Gove and Johnson received support from their own parties, but even their political opponents appear to be unconcerned with their admission.
"I think people should tell us what they have done and move on in life," said Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. "But I'm unconcerned about Michael Gove's past life or behavior, to be quite honest."
What all this means for the United Kingdom's drug policy remains unknown. If one of these former drug users becomes the next prime minister, they will hopefully use their past to advocate for a more compassionate approach to dealing with Britons who have similarly broken the UK's drug laws. If not, the success of any of these six candidates will serve as even more evidence that the drug war has done nothing but develop a two-tiered justice system in which underprivileged members of society do time for crimes that the rich can get away with by virtue of their wealth and influence.
h/t The Guardian