Brand: Drug addicts want treatment
Comedian Russell Brand has said people suffering with drug addiction are more interested in getting the correct treatment than whether drugs are decriminalised or not.
The 38-year-old star - a recovering drug addict - told the BBC's Question Time programme he believed in "abstinence-based" treatment.
He said: "I don't think drug laws are working because people take drugs all the time. People will take drugs because of social, psychological and emotional reasons."
He continued: "For me it's not about the drug laws, it's about treating people with addiction issues in a compassionate and empathetic way. As a recovering drug addict myself, when I was using drugs I didn't care if drugs were illegal.
"If I need drugs because I'm in pain inside, I'm taking drugs and I know this to be true of drug addicts all over our country. If you criminalise them and marginalise them, you place an industry in the hands of criminals and you make it difficult and shaming for them to get treatment. That is the wrong way to handle the situation.
"We have to reach out to people compassionately - then we have a chance of achieving a solution."
Asked by the show's host David Dimbleby if he would like all drugs to be decriminalised, Brand said: "I don't like to get drawn on that because I am dealing with this in a very direct way in that people who are suffering from drugs problems don't care about the law, they care about getting the correct treatment which I believe is abstinence-based treatment."
Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said he was not convinced the "war on drugs" had been won and the Government needed to look at the evidence.
"I think there is some evidence that drug policy is working on the rehabilitation side," he said. "As Russell said, if we can treat people with humanity when they've got an addiction and try to help them get off that addiction, that can make a real difference to that person's life and the wider society.
"I'm not convinced yet that we've won the war on drugs by any means. There are still thousands of people dying from drugs, they scar communities, there are drug barons who are making billions from this. I think we do need to review the drug laws, I think we need to look at the evidence."