Video: Russell Brand Speaks in UK Parliament
The comedian tells a British drug policy committee that addicts are sick, not criminals, and calls for more compassion.
British comedian and actor Russel Brand urged politicians to regard addiction as a health issue rather than a criminal matter, while speaking before Members of Parliament in a committee on UK drug policy. A recovering drug addict, 36-year-old Brand said it would be "a brilliant idea" if the money spent "nicking people for possession" could be instead channeled to treatment and recovery programs. Now sober for nine years, he appeared alongside the head of Focus 12, the detox center that helped him through his recovery. In his 2007 autobiography, My Bookie Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs and Stand-Up, Brand related how his own descent into drug and alcohol addiction wreaked havoc on his life. He told the committee he became addicted to drugs because of a mental and psychological condition and a "spiritual malady," adding that it's more effective to address these issues than to criminalize addicts.
Brand thinks decriminalization of drugs could prove "useful," but avoided taking a definitive stance, saying "as a drug addict, the legal status [of a drug] is an irrelevance." Instead, he emphasizes the importance of tackling the "disease" of addiction with an abstinence and recovery-based approach. "Addicts that get clean, one day at a time, through abstinence-based recovery, generally speaking stop committing crimes," he told MPs. "We need to change the laws in this country and have a more compassionate, altruistic, loving attitude to the people with the disease of addiction."