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

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."

Read more: Brand calls for a 'peaceful, joyful revolution'
Russell Brand tells Oprah about his drug addiction
Brand defends Justin Bieber over racist video
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all