Reefer Madness -- Is Britain Being Run by Potheads?

Former President Clinton famously "didn't inhale." Illinois Sen. Barack Obama has admitted to doing it (and more). And now several of Britain's leading lawmakers are spilling the beans on their pot-smoking pasts.

Perhaps the most controversial confession came from new Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, who said on the morning television show GMTV that while at Oxford University (where Clinton dabbled), she tried marijuana.

"I think it was wrong that I smoked it when I did. I have not done [it] for 25 years," she said.

At the time the possible penalty for possession of marijuana was a seven-year prison sentence.

Smith's comments came a day after new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced Smith would head a government review of Britain's existing drug policy.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has said he never smoked dope, reduced the penalties for possession and use of cannabis. But Brown, also a pot-free politician, announced Wednesday a plan to re-examine Blair's policy with an eye toward tightening laws related to cannabis after the release of several studies that suggest stronger forms of the drug may cause psychosis.

Marijuana Ministers

A series of similar confessions have followed on the heels of the admission by Smith, now nicknamed "Jacqui Spliff" by British media. To date, as many as 11 members of Brown's government have publicly admitted to puffing on the odd joint.

The most senior figure, Alistair Darling, chancellor of the Exchequer and Gordon Brown's No. 2, told British media that he had smoked it "occasionally in his youth"; ministers responsible for policing and drugs both admitted to indulging while younger.

The most surprising disclosure, however, came from the devout Catholic and Opus Dei member Ruth Kelly, who toked away until realizing the error of her ways and saw that "it was foolish and gave up."

Several ministers contacted by would not comment.

Hypocritical or Human?

Does the use of marijuana in the past reduce their legitimacy as lawmakers?

Oliver Marre, columnist for the Observer newspaper, told ABC News, "It couldn't matter less. The British public is grown up enough to realize if we only had politicians that had never pushed the boundaries when they were young we'd end up with a pretty boring lot in charge and reactionary policies."

The British public seems to have a similar response to the news.

"The reality is everybody's human providing they're still not practicing it and it doesn't inhibit their decision making now then the past is the past. Judge them on what they do now rather than what they did then," said Nick Radcliff, a sales manager in London.

And some people even seemed amused by the disclosures.

"I really think it's quite funny. I mean everybody does it. I don't think there's anything wrong with it," said Liz Penfold, a 41-year-old housewife from London.