GEORGE Michael has disclosed that cannabis keeps him "sane and happy" – while admitting it can be a "terrible, terrible drug".
The 43-year-old singer launched into an extraordinary defence of his habit in the ITV1 interview in which he openly smoked a joint before the cameras.
Inhaling deeply, he said: "This is the only drug I’ve ever thought worth taking but you have to wait. It never occurred to me to take even this until I was about 22 or 23.
"This stuff keeps me sane and happy. I could write without it…if I were sane and happy. I’d say it’s a great drug – but obviously it’s not very healthy. You can’t afford to smoke it if you’ve got anything to do. Anything at all would be foolish."
George spoke candidly backstage before a concert in Madrid where the drug is legal. Denying he was out of control after twice being caught slumped at the wheel of his car, he told interviewer Melvyn Bragg: "I’m enjoying my life."
The gay star also confessed to being "sexually frustrated for years" as he struggled to pretend he was straight.
Puffing away, George said dope was "very good for creative people". But he added: "It 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."
He admitted he had dabbled with other drugs – and regretted all of them except cannabis. He said: "There’s not another drug in life that I’m glad I took but grass.
"I think my life might be somewhere else if I’d chosen another avenue.
"Alcohol for instance. Christ, if I drank as much as I smoked. My God, I’d be like Keith Richards."
The in-depth interview, to be screened on the South Bank Show on October 31, was filmed over the past two months as George prepared for his first world tour in 15 years.
At the start, a message on screen reads: "George Michael wishes to inform viewers he has never tested positive for drink or drugs when driving."
It refers to his arrest this month when he was cautioned for possessing cannabis after being found slumped at the wheel of his car near his North London home.
He was also cautioned in February when found asleep at the wheel near Hyde Park. Two months later, he pranged three parked cars. In July he was caught having sex on Hampstead Heath.
George, who lives with long term partner Kenny Goss, 48, said: "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."
But far from losing personal control, he insisted: "I feel good. I live in the house of my dreams with the man of my dreams. I’m happy with the music I’m making – and I’m still loaded.
"I’m enjoying my life. Even though there’s a picture that’s being painted, I’d be much more unhappy if it were true."
In the hour long-special, called George Michael – I’m Your Man, the star reveals that Led Zeppelin are his favourite rock band, because "they sound like people who know how to have sex".
George also said coming out has led to gay fans deserting him. He said: "They’re only interested when you’re in the closet. Once you’re out, they don’t give a t**s."
The film addresses political messages in some of his songs, especially one in which George portrays Tony Blair as George Bush’s poodle. He said: "As the years go by, Mr Blair is making Shoot the Dog a word perfect protest song."
The interview ends with the legendary crooner wishing he was not in the news so much for the wrong reasons.
He tells Bragg: "I hope my future is very different. I hope I learn to shut my mouth.
"If I did, I would probably have all the sex I like, wherever I like. Which I do anyway, to be honest with you.
"I should learn to shut my mouth and sing. That would be clever."