Rory Stewart confesses to taking class A drug, may now be barred from entering US
British prime minister hopeful Rory Stewart has admitted to smoking opium in Iran while he was in the country on official government business.
Lawmaker Stewart is in the running to be the next UK leader but revealed during an interview that he made a “very stupid mistake” by taking the drug more than 15 years ago.
Mr. Stewart, who is hoping to replace PM Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party, says he smoked the drug while at an Iranian wedding despite knowing it is against the law.
Ironically, Stewart was in Iran to asses the “the damage” opium had on communities while he was a Foreign Office diplomat working for coalition forces in the Iraq War.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the 46-year-old International Development secretary claims he was invited into a home where a wedding celebration was underway and an opium pipe was being passed around.
“I thought ‘this is going to be a very strange afternoon to walk’,” Stewart told the Telegraph.
“But it may be that the family was so poor they put very little opium in the pipe.”
Stewart insists, however, that the drug “had no effect” on him “because I was walking 25-30 miles a day.”
According to Fox News, Stewart later apologized for smoking the drug, which is considered a Class A drug in Britain.
“I actually went on in Iran to see the damage that opium is going to communities,” he told Sky News.
“I’ve seen it as a prisons minister. It’s something that was very wrong.”
He continued: “I made a stupid mistake – I was at a wedding in a large community meeting and somebody passed around this pipe and I smoked it.
“I shouldn’t have done it, it was wrong.”
Aside from the political fallout of his admission, Stewart faces potentially being banned from entering the United States due to his use of an illegal narcotic.
According to Express, US immigration policy allows for individuals who have committed offenses involving drugs to be denied visas and admission.
The drug is classed as Schedule II in the United States.
The first offense carries a sentence of between five and forty years and the second between ten years and life with quantity playing a role.
Anastasia Tonello, a New York immigration lawyer, said: “I think this could cause him a problem,” but noted that while British actor Idris Elba had admitted to selling drugs, he had not been denied entry.
The visa application form asks specifically if applicants have broken any laws regarding controlled substances anywhere in the world.
Stewart, a former private instructor to Princes William and Harry, is an underdog in the Conservative Party’s leadership race.
PM Theresa May will stand down as leader of her party next month, paving the way for a growing field of candidates, including Boris Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary, who is the early frontrunner.
Mr. Stewart, the first of the candidates to announce an intention to stand for Tory leader, is considered in to be an outsider to replace Theresa May and become Prime Minister.
Just Victoria Prentiss and Nicholas Soames have publicly endorsed his candidacy so far.