Russell Brand and Richard Branson write letter to David Cameron calling for drug possession to be decriminalised

Over 90 experts and high-profile names sign a petition calling for a drug law review

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The Independent Online

Russell Brand, Richard Branson, Will Self and Sting are among high-profile names to have written a letter to the Prime Minister calling for drug possession to be decriminalised.

More than 90 celebrities, health experts, lawyers and politicians have signed the letter, which was drafted by drug charity Release. It states that current prohibitive laws have led to “unnecessary criminalisation” of more than 1.5million people in the last 15 years.

It also notes that evidence from Australia, the Czech Republic and Portugal proves that health problems related to drugs are “dramatically” reduced when users are provided with medical support rather than being prosecuted.

The call for change comes as the United Nations marks it annual International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the Support Don’t Punish organisation mark its second Global Day of Action, which highlights how drug users are still “stigmatised and abused”.

Protests against the “war on drugs” are expected to take place in 100 international cities today. Campaigners met in Parliament Square this morning to voice their concerns over the government’s policy on illegal drugs.

“The global day of action is a public show of force for drug policy reform”, Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium, told the BBC.

“The tide is turning and governments need to urgently fix their drug policies and repair the damage that has been done.”

In 2012, Brand told the House of Commons that the government should show more compassion towards drug users.

“It is something I consider to be an illness, and therefore more of health matter than a criminal or judicial matter,” he said.

"It is more important that we regard people suffering from addiction with compassion and there is a pragmatic rather than a symbolic approach to treating it."