TAKING drugs and thinking it was acceptable was "worse than a mistake", Michael Gove has admitted.
The Levelling Up boss was challenged on his own use of cocaine as ministers said they would ban laughing gas in an antisocial behaviour crackdown.
He said he had learned through his own experience that it was a "mistake" to "regard drug taking as somehow acceptable".
The Levelling-Up Secretary, was grilled on whether some in the public might view ministers' stance on laughing gas as "hypocritical" if they had admitted taking drugs in the past like he had.
Mr Gove has previously admitted to taking cocaine in the past.
When he was running for the Tory leadership in 2019, he revealed: "I took drugs on several occasions at social events more than 20 years ago… I was a young journalist. It was a mistake."
But he told Sky News' Sophy Ridge On Sunday: "No, I think it is because I have learned."
Pressed on what he had learned, Mr Gove said: "That it is a mistake – worse than a mistake – to regard drug taking as somehow acceptable."
Ministers will act to stop teens getting hold of the so-called 'hippy crack', Mr Gove confirmed this morning.
But he did not reveal what class the drug would be – and whether people will face a criminal sentence if caught with it.
Supplying the drug can land offenders jail but it is not illegal to have it.
Mr Gove told Sky's Sophy Ridge: "We can't have a situation where our parks, our public spaces become drug taking arenas… these laughing gas canisters are an increasing scourge.
"I think any of us who've had the opportunity to walk through our parks in all major cities will have seen these little canisters, which are examples of, not only disappointing public spaces, but also people taking a drug which can have a psychological and neurological effect, and one that contributes to antisocial behaviour overall."
Laughing gas, which is known as nitrous oxide, will be banned under the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act.
Around half a million youngsters are taking the drugs, some studies suggest.
That makes it the second most used substance among that age group after cannabis.
Five people died in 2017 with nitrous oxide listed on the death certificate, according to the ONS.
There has been a jump in the number of canisters of nitrous oxide strewn across parks and public areas since the outbreak of coronavirus.
Many have been found dumped along with empty bottles of booze following illegal raves during lockdown.
Nitrous oxide can damage the central nervous system, cause paralysis and can be fatal.
Nitrous oxide is normally bought in pressurised canisters. It is then transferred to a container such as a balloon to be inhaled.
Only those with a "legitimate reason" for possession, such as chefs who use it for chilling food or dentists who give it as mild pain relief, would be exempt.
Tomorrow the PM, Home Secretary and Levelling up boss will lead an antisocial behaviour crackdown in a bid to show voters the Tories are still tough on crime.
Criminals will see quick justice served with speedy 24 hour punishments, and could be forced to scrub cars and do volunteer work to pay back to the community.
Criminals will be made to repair damage in communities in days under Immediate Justice trials set to start in ten areas.
The PM wants graffitied and vandalised areas fixed inside 48 hours and yobs publicly punished.
Under his plan announced tomorrow, victims will get a say in deciding what punishment offenders face.
They will be made to wear jumpsuits or hi-viz jackets as they clean up graffiti, pick litter or wash police cars.
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Drinking at bus stops or war memorials is to be banned, too.
More on-the-spot fines will be issued, and drug tests carried out, in a drive to see offences rapidly and publicly punished.
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