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U.N. blasts celebrity drug abuse

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  • U.N. says celebrity drug use encourages adolescent substance abuse
  • Report says leniency towards celebrities hurts criminal justice system
  • Report finds Britain, Italy, Spain have among highest rates of cocaine use
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LONDON, England -- Cocaine-abusing celebrities are glamorizing the use of narcotics and encouraging more young people to use illegal substances, the United Nations drug control agency has warned.

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Model Kate Moss faced allegations of cocaine use in 2005 but was never charged for over the claims.

The annual report from the International Narcotics Control Board warns that treating stars "leniently" by allowing them to get away with drug crimes undermines faith in the criminal justice system and has a damaging effect on adolescents.

"They get more lenient responses by the judiciary and law enforcement, and that is regrettable," Professor Hamid Ghodse, a member of the INCB, told the UK's Press Association Wednesday. "There should not be any difference between a celebrity who is breaking the law and non-celebrities.

"Not only does it give the wrong messages to young people, who are quite impressionable, but the wider public becomes cynical about the responses to drug offenders," Ghodse said. Video Watch Ghodse explain how celebrity offenders are being given an easy ride »

Last month, acclaimed singer Amy Winehouse was questioned by police after a video emerged which appeared to show her smoking crack. Last fall she was arrested and fined in Norway for possessing marijuana.

Winehouse was due to appear in a Norwegian courtroom to contest the drug charges at the end of February. The hearing was postponed indefinitely, PA said, after the court approved a request from Winehouse's lawyer.Video Watch how celebrity drug scandals affect children »

Supermodel Kate Moss also faced cocaine-snorting allegations in 2005. The Crown Prosecution Service later said she would not be charged over the claims. Despite losing modeling contracts in the wake of the revelations, she later won fresh jobs and remains one of the world's top models.

Singer Pete Doherty, the former boyfriend of Moss, also has had a well-publicized drug abuse problem but has so far managed to avoid jail time. Earlier this month he was named by music magazine NME as its Hero of the Year.

And Paul McCartney and his late wife Linda were open about their marijuana habit. The former Beatle was arrested for possession in 1980 in Japan. After 10 days in jail, he was released without charges.

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The report found that Britain, along with Spain and Italy, have some of the highest rates of cocaine abuse in the world.

The report also expressed concerns on rising opium production in Afghanistan. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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