Saturday, 18 May 2024

Time to de-criminalise drugs? – A message from Russell Brand

As a former drug addict I never miss an opportunity to harp on about drugs. Below this email are some links to articles I’ve written on my own addiction, the death of Amy Winehouse and lately Philip Seymour Hoffman.

I assume you’ve read all three and are well acquainted with my tragic condition and brave graciousness in the face of adversity. Thank God. We can now focus on what’s important. Right.

My belief is that addiction is a disease and making it illegal to have a disease makes a bad situation worse. We all know someone affected by addiction to drink or drugs, even if they’re just some discarded human casualty we step over on the street.

The truth is this is a situation that we can improve by working together. Here are some facts:

Almost 2,000 young people die in the UK each year from taking illegal drugs of uncertain potency, that they can only get hold of on the illegal market. Leading police, doctors, and politicians agree prohibition has completely failed to curb addiction and instead is costing the UK £3 billion a year.

Over 100,000 Britons are arrested every year for using drugs – and of course it is the poor and minority users who are targeted, not the rich and powerful.

You may as well know that I believe contemporary democracy to be a meaningless charade designed to placate and distract – but I’m willing to be proved wrong. There’s a chance to start the debate, begin a sane and effective policy and save lives: Nick Clegg says he wants reform (at the moment- so act quick before he changes his mind) and the anomalously trustworthy MP Caroline Lucas has started a campaign to call for a full review of UK drugs policy. But we only have days to get 100,000 of us to join her so the government will be forced to debate it in Parliament. It will take 90-100 seconds (depending on typing skills). Please sign this thing:

Other countries have tried sensible policies based on something called evidence— Portugal eliminated criminal penalties for drug users more than a decade ago. Since then, the number of teenagers who take illegal drugs has gone down, the number of addicts who undergo rehab up, and there’s been a big drop in drug users who become infected with HIV. Switzerland, too, has seen crime plummet and drug-related deaths fall since bringing in more progressive and tolerant drug laws.

The e-petition is easy: if 100k of us sign up, the drugs policy will be debated in Parliament. This in turn will help get the government to change the failing drug laws and save lives.

I’ve signed it and I hate signing things, it reminds me of school and I feel like participating makes me a tedious square and no better than them slimey battery-pod people from the Matrix (Neo before rescue) however I have done it as this is a war I know we can win. Prohibition is an idea that is dying, let’s kill it now with unified defiance so we lose as few people to drugs and their related problems as possible. Cheers.

Russell Brand


Russell Brand: my life without drugs (The Guardian)

Russell Brand on Amy Winehouse: ‘We have lost a beautiful, talented woman’ (The Guardian)

Russell Brand: Philip Seymour Hoffman is another victim of extremely stupid drug laws (The Guardian)

The lesson from Latin America: we need to rethink the drugs war

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