Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Russell Brand: Drug addicts need compassion

Russell Brand

Russell Brand says drug use shouldn't be a "criminal or judicial matter".

The British comedian has been open about his battle with illegal substances in the past and is now clean.

Politicians in the UK are looking into the country's policy on drugs and Russell has been addressing them today.

He opened up about his own experiences and suggested the main problem is how people who have addictions are viewed by others.

"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 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.

"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."

The star was asked if he thought legalising illicit substances would be a good move. He replied he doesn't feel "particularly qualified" to give his views on that matter, also saying he wasn't suggested a "wacky free for all" when it comes to drugs.

Russell added the illegal aspect of drugs is of no interest to people who are in the grip of addiction.

"I'm not a legal expert. I'm saying that, to a drug addict, the legal aspect is irrelevant," he said.

"If you need to get drugs, you will. The criminal and legal status, I think, sends the wrong message. Being arrested isn't a lesson, it's just an administrative blip."

Russell attended the discussion wearing torn black jeans, a black vest top with tie-dye rings on it, a black hat and several gold chains around his neck.

The star repeatedly addressed Members of Parliament as "mate" and seemed to be keen to get his point across.

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