George Michael sparks anger after smoking cannabis on TV show

From "Zip Me Up Before You Go-Go" to "Careless Rizla", George Michael's private life has attracted plenty of damaging headlines over the years.

And yesterday the singer was in the firing line again after he was filmed smoking cannabis and talking about his drug use during a television interview.

Michael, who was recently cautioned by police for possession of the drug, was criticised by mental health charities for praising its effects.

In an interview for The South Bank Show filmed in Madrid he tells Melvyn Bragg, the presenter: "This is the only drug I've ever thought worth taking ... this stuff keeps me sane and happy."

His comments drew instant fire from mental health campaigners. Richard Colwill, a spokesman for Sane, said Michael was setting a poor example to his fans around the world.

"There is a growing body of evidence that when cannabis is smoked by young people it can lead to psychosis when their brain is developing," he said.

Paul Corry, director of public affairs at mental health charity Rethink went further, describing the performer's actions and comments as "stupid and naïve", and adding: "As a huge international star, any public comments will draw enormous attention."

William Butler, spokesman for drug and alcohol treatment charity Addaction, said: "We need stronger and clearer messages about cannabis harm so people are in a position to make informed choices. All drugs have potential to harm and that is the principal message we need to get across."

During the course of the interview, recorded backstage after a Spanish concert, the 43-year-old singer admitted the drug could have negative effects and that he regretted taking other stimulants. "It [cannabis] can be a terrible, terrible drug. You've got to be in the right position in life to take it. You've got to have achieved most of your ambitions because it chills you out to such a degree you could lose your ambitions."

But despite his openness, the programme's producers are at pains to point out at the beginning that he has never tested positive for drink or drugs when driving - a reference to a string of recent incidents that have raised speculation over the state of his private life.

But he reassured fans that his mental condition was fine. "The public think I'm a man on the brink of a breakdown because I fell asleep in my car, I hit a parked car and because I cruise as a gay man."

As he prepares to embark on his first world tour for 15 years, expected to include an on-stage Christmas reunion with his former Wham! partner, Andrew Ridgeley, Michael said cannabis helped with the creative process. "I couldn't write without it," he admits.

A spokeswoman for the singer refused to comment but a spokeswoman for The South Bank Show said: "The interview was conducted in Madrid and at his home in England. We must make it clear that when he was smoking he was in Madrid where cannabis use is legal." The interview will be shown on 31 October.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Account Executive / Account Manager

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive / Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones