Russell Brand: 'This Experiment' of Prohibiting Drugs Has Brought Nothing but Death

Barbara Boland
By Barbara Boland | March 26, 2014 | 10:15 AM EDT

"There's literally no reason to proceed with this experiment of prohibition [of drugs] which has lasted for a century, that has done nothing but bring death, suffering, crime, created a negative economy, and deaths all over Mexico, deaths all over Malaysia, unnecessary death penalties," Russell Brand, British comedian and star of "Get Him to the Greek," said at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna last week.

"You'll notice I've said the word 'death'' a lot. What I think we need to look at is an alternative way of thinking, an alternative approach," he said.

Brand appeared on behalf of the Support, Don't Punish campaign which aims "to raise awareness of the harms being caused by the criminalisation of people who use drugs."

"My personal experience is, I was using drugs because I was in a great deal of spiritual, emotional and physical pain and what I needed was a solution to those problems and what was provided to me to reach that solution was a context of compassion and tolerance," Brand told the Commission.

Russell Brand is a former heroin addict and alcoholic that now advocates abstinence.

He's spoken and written many times on the issue of drugs, and the nature of addiction. In February he penned an op-ed for The Guardian titled: "Phillip Seymour Hoffman is Another Victim of Extremely Stupid Drug Laws."

While he is a critic of current drug policy, he is no apologist for drug addicts: "The mentality and behaviour of drug addicts and alcoholics is wholly irrational until you understand that they are completely powerless over their addiction and unless they have structured help they have no hope," he wrote in March 2013.

He knows the power of drugs all too well:

"It is difficult to feel sympathy for these people. It is difficult to regard some bawdy drunk and see them as sick and powerless. It is difficult to suffer the selfishness of a drug addict who will lie to you and steal from you and forgive them and offer them help."

Brand has started the "Give It Up" fund in the UK which "aims to provide financial aid to help people remain free from substance abuse by setting up support groups in three pilot areas," according to The Independent.