BBC presenter Evan Davis sparked controversy last night after being accused of using a new purge of health and safety rules to promote the legalisation of cannabis.
The Radio 4 Today presenter clashed with Lord Young, the Tory peer who wants to scrap ‘excessive’ safety regulations.
Mr Davis repeatedly suggested that the peer’s review, commissioned by David Cameron, could be used to justify a relaxation in cannabis laws.
In an interview yesterday, he seized on Lord Young’s remark that: ‘Frankly, if I want to do something stupid and break my leg or neck, that’s up to me.’
Describing it ‘a statement of libertarian principle of a very interesting kind’, Mr Davis added: ‘Did you really say that?’
When Lord Young replied: ‘Yes, haven’t you ever been skiing?’ the presenter retorted: ‘So if I want to smoke cannabis, that’s up to me as well, presumably?
‘What principle distinguishes between me doing something dangerous that can break my neck and having a spliff?’
Despite the peer’s repeated protests that drug-taking is illegal and skiing is not, Mr Davis refused to drop the issue.
He added: ‘There are a lot of people who want to smoke cannabis and they’re stopped by what one person might call a busybody and others would call a very sensible, paternalistic state.’
Cannabis is a Class B drug, with a penalty of up to five years in prison and/or an unlimited fine for those caught in possession of it.
A BBC spokeswoman last night denied Mr Davis was promoting the idea of repealing the cannabis laws.
She said: ‘Evan was in no way condoning the use of cannabis. He was using it as an example about whether people should be allowed to do things that might be harmful for them, and testing how libertarian Lord Young’s views were.’
By Brendan Carlin
3rd October 2010
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