Celebrities join calls for drugs reform in Britain
Actress Judi Dench, entrepreneur Richard Branson and pop star Sting joined three former police chiefs in a call to British leader David Cameron to decriminalise drugs possession.
They signed a petition drawn up by campaign group Release and sent to Downing Street Thursday that calls on the prime minister to review the effectiveness of current drug laws in tackling abuse and addiction.
The petition calls for those caught possessing illegal substances to be fined rather than jailed and for addicts to be referred for treatment rather than given a criminal record.
"It is clear that the present system of applying the criminal law to the personal use and possession of drugs has failed," says the petition.
"Conversely, the harm caused by pursuing this approach has been significant.
"Criminalising people who use drugs leads to greater social exclusion, making it more difficult for them to gain employment and to play a productive role in society," it adds.
Release describes itself as a British group that "campaigns for changes to UK drug policy to bring about a fairer and more compassionate legal framework".
Branson, founder of the Virgin brand, supported the call for change, which he said he hoped would take power "out of the hands of organised crime".
"We need more humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs," the former record-label chief said.
"The one thing we cannot afford to do is to go on pretending the 'war on drugs' is working."
© 2011 AFP