Yoko Ono, Sting and former American president Jimmy Carter have signed a letter calling on the UK Parliament to consider decriminalising drugs, despite previous strong resistance to any such move from the Government.
The celebrities, who also include Sir Richard Branson and Prof A C Grayling, encourage “members of the public and of Parliament” to “break the taboo on debate and reform”.
The Government strongly rebuffed calls to weaken drugs policy in June, stating: “Drugs are illegal because they are harmful – they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities.”
The new letter, signed by over 60 public figures, states: “We must seriously consider shifting resources away from criminalising tens of millions of otherwise law abiding citizens, and move towards an approach based on health, harm-reduction, cost-effectiveness and respect for human rights.”
In June Mary Brett, a trustee of charity Cannabis Skunk Sense, called a previous letter from celebrities calling for drug decriminalisation “naïve in the extreme”.
She commented: “These people have never read the literature on the harms drugs such as cannabis can do.
“There is no doubt that cannabis can cause psychosis, and skunk users are even more likely to become psychotic as a result. The message decriminalising drugs sends out is that they are safe.”
Earlier this year the Home Office said: “We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws.”
It added: “Those caught in the cycle of dependency must be supported to live drug-free lives, but giving people a green light to possess drugs through decriminalisation is clearly not the answer.”