Actresses Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson and Demi Moore are among the stars who have signed music mogul Russell Simmons' petition to U.S. President Barack Obama urging him to reform the country's stance on the war on drugs.

The rap pioneer-turned-business magnate has asked Obama to consider replacing jail sentences with rehabilitation and treatment programmes to help non-violent offenders get back on their feet and become more meaningful members of society in the hopes of building a better future.

A number of celebrities, including Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and Will Smith, have added their names to the cause, and, on Tuesday (09Apr13), Simmons fired off a letter to the American leader in an effort to bring about change.

An excerpt of the letter reads, "Mr. President, it is evident that you have demonstrated a commitment to pursue alternatives to the enforcement-only War on Drugs approach and address the increased incarceration rates for non-violent crimes. Your administration has moved in the right direction by committing increased funds to drug prevention and treatment programs and supporting state and local re-entry grants. We encourage you to continue your efforts to revamp the policies of the last 30 years that have seen the prison population skyrocket.

"The greatest victims of the prison industrial complex are our nation's children. Hundreds of thousands of children have lost a parent to long prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses, leaving these children to fend for themselves. Many of these children end up in the criminal justice system, which comes as no surprise as studies have shown the link between incarceration and broken families, juvenile delinquency, violence and poverty...

"As you set in motion research and policy to combat this societal crisis, this coalition is poised to help you make the transition successful... We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these ideas further and empower our coalition to help you achieve your goals of reducing crime, lowering drug use, preventing juvenile incarceration and lowering recidivism rates. We stand with you, ready to do what is just for America."