British comedian and former heroin addict Russell Brand told lawmakers on Tuesday that addicts should be treated "with love and compassion" and not as criminals.
The "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" star said drug dependency should be treated as an illness and called for more "abstinence-based recovery" as he gave evidence to a parliamentary committee reviewing government drug policy.
The 36-year-old, who has been clean for nine years, described how he became addicted to drugs in his youth because of emotional and psychological difficulties. "It was rough," he said.
Wearing a black hat, gold chains and a torn black vest top, he spoke rapidly and addressed members of the committee by their first names in typically disarming style.
Asked if he favoured decriminalising drugs, Brand stressed that he was not advocating "a free-for-all where everyone goes around taking drugs" but said existing British laws were "irrelevant" to addicts.
"If you need to get drugs, you will," he added."The criminal and legal status, I think, sends the wrong message."
Asked if there should be a carrot and stick approach, he said it should be more about "love and compassion".
Brand, who divorced Perry in February, has spoken frequently about his fight to overcome drug dependency and is making a TV documentary about addiction.
Source: AFP Global Edition