Chief medical officer: I took drugs

England's chief medical officer has admitted taking drugs, in an interview which sees her demand that use of narcotics be treated as a medical issue rather than a criminal one.

Sally Davies said she had experimented with cannabis when studying medicine at Edinburgh University, but decided against further use after it made her hallucinate.

"I never smoked so I couldn't smoke joints but I did have some cookies, until on the third or fourth occasion I had hallucinations and I've never touched it since," she told BBC Radio 3's Private Passions.

"And I think I understood through that what my father said to me when I told him I was going to try it. He said: 'Drugs decivlise you. You stop being a civilised person.'

"And I understood why so many people were against even the soft drugs. So, like the fact I do enjoy wine, I'm open about my past."

She added: "Of course it's a medical problem, I mean 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."

Davies has previously said that criminalising drug use discourages users from seeking help but she always stops short of calling for the legislation of any particular drug.

Her intervention is the latest from a senior political figure to press for a change in the law.

Former chief government drug advisor David Nutt was sacked by then-home secretary Alan Johnson in 2009 after he criticised Labour's drug policy.

World leaders joined former UN secretary general Kofi Annan to call for an end to the criminalisation of drug users in a Global Commission on Drug Policy report in 2011.

And the Commons home affairs committee called for a royal commission into drug law late last year.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Drugs ruin lives and cause misery to families and communities and this Government is committed to breaking the cycle of drug and alcohol 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."