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Actor Russell Brand has told a panel of British Members of Parliament that drugs should be decriminalized and more compassion is needed for those with addiction.

The 36-year-old actor – who is also a recovered heroin addict – told the panel reviewing the government’s drug-strategy that an alternative approach to banning drugs is a better option.

‘’A good number of times I was arrested was simply for possession and the administrative costs of that would be better spent, I think, on education and addressing the costs of treatment. I think that would be a very, very sensible use of those redirected funds," Brand said. ’’I’m not a legal expert, but I’m saying that to a drug addict, the legal status is irrelevant. It is at best an inconvenience. If you need to get drugs because you’re a drug addict, you’re going to get drugs regardless of their legal status so the more money you waste in administering and controlling that … I think there’s a futility to it.’’

Russell also feels it’s important to open up an honest debate about drug use:

“Let’s have an authoritative, truthful, honest debate and some funding for abstinence-based recovery,” he said. “If you have the illness or disease of addiction or alcoholism, the best way to tackle it is not use drugs in any form whether it’s state-sponsored opus like methadone or illegal street drugs…there is some confusion and ignorance around addiction and it’s quite understandable because a lot of drug addicts…are a strain on society, they necessarily engage in criminal activity, they’re a public nuisance in many ways…It wasn’t until I had access to abstinence-based recovery that I was able to change my behavior and significantly reduce, all but obliterate my criminal activity, apart from the occasional skirmish.”

Brand wrote about his struggle with drug addiction in his autobiography “My Booky Wook” in 2007 and also wrote a touching obituary about singer Amy Winehouse when she died last year after battling alcohol and drug abuse.

“We need to review the way society treats addicts, not as criminals but as sick people in need of care,” Brand wrote on his website. “We need to look at the way our government funds rehabilitation. It is cheaper to rehabilitate an addict than to send them to prison, so criminalization doesn’t even make economic sense.”

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