ATLANTA (AP) _ Rep. Newt Gingrich said Friday he smoked marijuana once nearly two decades ago, and it ''didn't have any effect.''

Gingrich, R-Ga., discussed the incident in an interview in Washington with WAGA-TV of Atlanta. Gingrich, 44, had been asked about the storm of publicity surrounding the admission by Supreme Court nominee Douglas H. Ginsburg that he smoked marijuana a few times in the 1960s and 1970s.

''The historical record is that yeah, 19 years ago, I used marijuana once at a party late at night in New Orleans,'' said Gingrich, a college history professor before being elected to Congress and a staunch supporter of Reagan administration policies. ''It didn't have any effect on me, as a matter of fact, so I never went back and revisited it.''

Gingrich said Ginsburg should not be made an outcast for occasional marijuana use many years ago.

''I think you've got to draw a distinction between somebody who is currently using drugs, or somebody who has been using hard drugs,'' and someone who experiemented with drugs years ago, he said.