British Celebrities Call For Drug Law Reform In UK

By McCarton Ackerman 06/27/14

Russell Brand, Sting, and Sir Richard Branson were among those calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to change current drug laws.

russell brand 2012.jpg
Poster child for drug reform.

Some of the biggest celebrities in Britain lent their signatures to a letter directed at the country’s prime minister, asking for the current government policy on illegal drugs to be reviewed.

Russell Brand, Sting, and Sir Richard Branson were among the 90 celebrities, politicians, lawyers, and health experts who signed the letter to PM David Cameron. It came as part of a global call to action to protest the war on drugs, with rallies held in over 100 cities worldwide yesterday including Paris, Mexico City, and Rome.

The letter urged for drug possession to no longer be classified as a crime, citing overcrowded prison systems as a sign that reforms in drug laws need to take place. Over 1.5 million people have been prosecuted for drug offenses in the UK over the last 15 years. It also cited evidence from Australia, Portugal, and Czech Republic that drug-related health problems are “dramatically” reduced when medical support and care are offered rather than prison sentences.

“The global day of action is a public show of force for drug policy reform," said Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium. "The tide is turning and governments need to urgently fix their drug policies and repair the damage that has been done.”

Of course, the celebrities who signed the letter have been longstanding advocates for drug law reform and the decriminalization of marijuana, if not all substances. In a 2010 blog published on Huffington Post, Sting criticized Barack Obama’s policies on the subject and said his war on drugs was a failure.

“It is actively harming our society. Violent crime is thriving in the shadows to which the drug trade has been consigned,” he wrote. “People who genuinely need help can't get it. Neither can people who need medical marijuana to treat terrible diseases. We are spending billions, filling up our prisons with non-violent offenders and sacrificing our liberties.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.