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British comedian Russell Brand to speak in Vienna today

British actor and comedian Russell Brand is due to speak in Vienna today at a conference on international drug regulation.

Brand, a former heroin addict, has spoken on previous occasions about the need to shift drug regulation away from prohibition and towards an approach with more compassion for drug users.

He is speaking this afternoon in front of press at the 2014 Session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) being held at the UN offices in Vienna.

Delegates at the event held by CND, the UN body responsible for guiding policy over drug regulation, are divided into two main camps regarding drug regulation with some wanting  more serious attention given to policies that explore legalisation and harm reduction whilst others want to retain focus on prohibition.

Although these two camps have existed for many years, the divisions are particularly pronounced at this week's conference as it is taking place just months after Uruguay became the first country in the world to controversially legalise cannabis from seed to smoke.

Like many drug policy organisations against prohibition, Brand has previously called for drug users to be decriminalised. He gave evidence at a UK Home Affairs Select Committee into drugs policy held in April 2012 where he called for more altruistic and compassionate approaches to drug users and for drug addiction to be seen as a health issue rather than criminal.

It is expected he will make a similar appeal today, calling on UN officials to treat drug users with compassion.

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