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Would-be UK prime minister Rory Stewart smoked opium in Iran

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A senior UK politician gunning to fill the vacant prime minister’s office has confessed to smoking opium in the past.

Rory Stewart smoked the banned narcotic while he was travelling around Iran in his 20s, but told The Telegraph it “had no effect” on him because he was “walking 25 to 30 miles a day” during a trek across the country.

Stewart, currently the Minister for International Development, said: “I was invited into the house, the opium pipe was passed around at a wedding.”

Rory Stewart MP speak to media on College Green in Westminster, London.
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“I thought this is going be a very strange afternoon to walk but it may be that the family was so poor they put very little opium in the pipe.”

Stewart told Sky News on Thursday he knew the drug, made from poppy seeds, was illegal at the time, and apologized.

“I think it was a very stupid mistake and I did it 15 years ago, and I actually went on in Iran to see the damage that opium was doing to communities,” Stewart said.

Read more: Researchers believe psychedelic drugs could combat depression and addiction. Here’s how magic mushrooms affect your brain.

Iran is said to have the highest number of opium addicts in the world, with the UN estimating over 2% of citizens are addicted. The drug is smuggled across from Afghanistan, the world’s largest producer of opium.

Four days before Stewart’s confession Jeremy Hunt — also vying to become prime minister — confessed to the Sunday Times he drank a cannabis-laced drink while in India.

Jeremy Hunt MP.
Leon Neal/Getty Images

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Incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May announced she will step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7, triggering a battle to become the next party leader, and therefore prime minister. May will step down as prime minister once a new Conservative leader is chosen.

A string of Conservative Party MPs including Stewart and Hunt, as well as Boris Johnson, have announced they are running. Johnson is considered to be a strong favorite to win the leadership.

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