A senior councillor has unreservedly apologised after a remark about “murdering, raping and looting” during a debate on legalised cannabis cafes.

Ben Duncan, Brighton and Hove City Council's cabinet member for communities, made the comments when asked on Twitter if he smoked the illegal drug.

Coun Duncan last night unreservedly apologised for the comments.

It came after opposition councillors called for Coun Duncan to resign, adding the comments were "at best irresponsible and at worst highly offensive to anyone who has suffered from rape".

Coun Duncan, who is also the Green party's national spokesman on home affairs, yesterday said: “I apologise unreservedly for mentioning rape in what was meant to be a light-hearted, ironic tweet.

"I understand that this may have caused distress and I’m sorry. On the topic of my blog about cannabis cafes, the wording is clear that I was not calling for ‘coffee shops’ to open in Brighton but was simply joining the current debate about drug decriminalisation by satirically asking whether Brighton is as liberal as Amsterdam used to be.

“I’m sorry if anyone misunderstood my intention.”

Coun Duncan, who has courted controversy with his views on issues as diverse as protests to pasties, made the comments after a Dutch judge supported a proposed ban on foreigners smoking cannabis in Amsterdam.

The ban will take effect in Holland by the end of the year.

Writing on his blog, Coun Duncan said: “Think of all the millions our shops and hotels would make if all those tourists being turned away from Amsterdam by the Dutch Tories came here to spend their holiday cash instead.”

He urged people to consider the idea “for the sake of our tourist industry and the health and wellbeing of those living in and visiting our city”.

Coun Duncan added: “Cannabis use can be harmful, but all analysis shows that it's much less likely to harm you than, say, driving a car, or crossing a road.”

When asked by someone on Twitter if he smoked cannabis, Coun Duncan replied: “I only smoke weed when I'm murdering, raping and looting!”

Labour group leader Gill Mitchell said: “This is the latest in a series of irresponsible comments from a senior Green councillor.

“Ben Duncan should think about the wider effect of his statements and for him to make light of the serious crime of rape in this way is plain wrong.”