Actor and comedian Russell Brand has told MPs that more “love and compassion” should be shown to drug users, and that public money should be spent on treating addiction as an illness rather than a crime to be punished.
Clad in a torn black vest and sporting gold chains, the actor and comedian confirmed to the home affairs select committee that he has been arrested for drug possession on some 12 occasions.
He said that drug addiction was primarily a “health matter” and “an illness”, and admitted that his life had been blighted by excessive use.
“For me what is more significant is the way we socially regard the condition of addiction,” he said.
“It is something I consider to be an illness, and therefore more of a health matter than a criminal or judicial matter.
“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.”
Discussing the practice of criminalising drug users, Brand said that it would be “a brilliant idea” if public money spent “nicking people for possession” was instead used to fund treatment programmes for addicts.
He added: “There is a degree of cowardice and wilful ignorance about this condition. There needs to be honesty and authenticity on this issue so Parliament does not look out of touch.”
Brand recommended a one-day-at-a-time, abstinence-based treatment as the best way to “stop harm” to drug users and those close to them.
The Get Him to the Greek star is currently filming a documentary on the subject of drug addiction, which will air on BBC3.