Comedian Russell Brand speaks to UK MPs on drug addiction

Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:41pm EDT
 
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By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - Comedian and actor Russell Brand told the British government on Tuesday that it needs to adopt a pragmatic approach to address the social issues that lead young people to take drugs.

Dressed in a flamboyant ensemble of black, Brand struck a contrast against the formally attired politicians with his long coat, vest, hat and leather wristbands.

Brand, a former heroin addict who has been arrested 12 times, appeared before politicians to give his views on the government's drug policies and his battle with drug addiction.

The comedian answered questions from the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee on his experiences and stressed the importance addressing addiction as an illness rather than a criminal or judicial matter.

"It's more important that we regard people's suffering from addiction with compassion, and that there is a pragmatic rather than symbolic approach to treating it," he said.

The committee is looking at the government's drug policy, existing sanctions and the case for decriminalizing some substances.

"The status of a drug is irrelevant to a drug addict. If you're a drug addict, you're getting drugs. That's it. So in way, it's probably best to make it simple," he said.

Brand told the committee he became addicted to drugs because of emotional and psychological difficulties as well as spiritual malady.   Continued...

 
Comedian and actor Russell Brand is seen addressing the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee in a still image taken from video in central London April 24, 2012. Brand told the British government on Tuesday that it needs to adopt a pragmatic approach to address the social issues that lead young people to take drugs. REUTERS/Parbul TV via Reuters TV