Dame Judi Dench, Julie Christie and moviemaker Mike Leigh are among the stars urging U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron to decriminalise the possession of drugs in Britain.
Sting, Sir Richard Branson and funnywoman Kathy Burke have also added their names to an open letter to the leader, to mark this week's (begs30May11) 40th anniversary of the 1971 Misuse of Drugs Act in the U.K.
The letter, organised by the national drugs charity Release to launch the campaign Drugs - It's Time for Better Laws, calls for a "swift and transparent" review of current drugs policies, amid claims of rapid growth in illicit drug use since the act was introduced.
In addition, the letter states: "This policy is costly for taxpayers and damaging for communities. Criminalising people who use drugs leads to greater social exclusion and stigmatisation making it much more difficult for them to gain employment and to play a productive role in society. It creates a society full of wasted resources."
Sting says, "Giving young people criminal records for minor drug possession serves little purpose - it is time to think of more imaginative ways of addressing drug use in our society."
But officials from the U.K. government have no plans to scrap the act, with a spokesperson for the Home Office saying, "We have no intention of liberalising our drugs laws. Drugs are illegal because they are harmful - they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities."