Mar 242012
 March 24, 2012

richard bransonRichard Branson Is A Prominent Supporter Of Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Is it time for marijuana supporters to grow a golden goatee beard? Richard Branson has been very vocal about his recreational marijuana use, and lately, he has ramped up his support for marijuana policy reform as well. All political movements need high profile support and wealthy backing, and the marijuana movement is no exception. So when I see guys like Richard Branson stepping up and throwing their name behind the marijuana movement, it makes me happier than when I get a gift card to a headshop.

I was talking to a fellow activist today at the Students for Sensible Drug Policy Conference in Denver, and he told me that he was present at the recent ‘Versus War on Drugs’ debate. Apparently, Richard Branson pointed out that The Weed Blog was the first blog to pick up the event. Hopefully Richard Branson reads this article too and knows how much the marijuana movement appreciates what he is doing, and how much we need him. Everything Richard Branson has touched in his life has turned to gold, and his skill set is an invaluable asset to not only the marijuana movement, but also the greater global drug war.

In the past year, Mr. Branson has stepped out as a prominent supporter of drug policy reform. His involvement with the Global Commission on Drug Policy electrified the global media and brought a new level of attention to the growing movement to end the 40-year-old war on drugs. The Global Commission is comprised of Branson, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, four former presidents, (including the commission’s chairman, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil), and several other distinguished world leaders.

“The time and energy that Richard has given over the past year to advance drug policy reform is extraordinary given all the other demands on him, “said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “I am grateful and delighted that he has joined the Honorary Board of the Drug Policy Alliance. His commitment to this cause — combined with the enormous respect in which he is held by leaders in business, politics and entertainment — provides us with an ally of enormous importance.”

Speaking by videophone to attendees at DPA’s Reform Conference last November, Branson said, “I think it became clear to all of the commissioners that the war on drugs has failed, and that what we need to do is to treat drugs as a health problem, not as a criminal problem.”

Recently, Mr. Branson wrote a passionate piece in London’s Daily Telegraph calling for a new approach to global drug policy. Below are some excerpts:

“Just as prohibition of alcohol failed in the United States in the 1920s, the war on drugs has failed globally. Over the past 50 years, more than $1 trillion has been spent fighting this battle, and all we have to show for it is increased drug use, overflowing jails, billions of pounds and dollars of taxpayers’ money wasted, and thriving crime syndicates. It is time for a new approach.”

“Unless this issue is tackled now, countless individuals and families will continue to suffer, no matter how much money is spent. We need a debate on how policy can cut consumption and reduce harm, rather than inflammatory scaremongering. It is not about supporting drug use; it is about solving a crisis.”

“The next step is simple: countries should be encouraged to experiment with new policies. We have models to follow. In Switzerland, the authorities employed a host of harm-reduction therapies, and successfully disrupted the criminal drug market. In Portugal, decriminalisation for users of all drugs 10 years ago led to a significant reduction in heroin use and decreased levels of property crime, HIV infection and violence. Replacing incarceration with therapy also helped create safer communities and saved the country money — since prison is far more expensive than treatment. Following examples such as these and embracing a regulated drugs market that is tightly controlled and complemented by treatment — not incarceration — for those with drug problems will cost taxpayers a lot less.”

“For all the successes I’ve had in business, I’ve also learnt to accept when things go wrong, work out why, and try to find a better way. The war on drugs is a failed enterprise. We need to have the courage to learn the lessons and move on.”

Sir Richard Branson, you are my marijuana hero. I look forward to hearing what you have to say at future debates and events. Something that I would like to see happen is Richard Branson using his resources and networks to raise money for the cause. I could ask every single person that I know to support marijuana reform with their dollars, but I would probably round up a couple bucks and a bowl of supers. However, if Richard Branson asked some of his friends to dedicate just one day’s worth of their profits to marijuana reform, every marijuana activist in the country would be well funded, and therefore in a better position to make change. If you are reading this Richard Branson, dig deep, sell a jet, tell your buddies to do the same, and put that money to good use! The world will be better off for it!

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About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
  • Marley King

    Richard, if you are reading this, then we should talk… There has to be the place that does take the lead, and show how the new model will work in action… I have that place… and it is ripe for a revolution! There also has to be a social and environmental aspect to the new industries, and I have those ideas too, ready to articulate and expand – profit is not a dirty word, but fair profits used fairly are the new business paradigm… The domino effect needs the first domino to be pushed, and a numbers game needs to do it’s sums and write the equations… everything is possible, starting today…
    Sir, bravo for putting yourself ‘on the line’, let’s take this all the way, the right way… I’m ready…

    • P West

      Tasmania, Australia should be that place :) Please? :D

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1123240268 Jorj Ammo

        tha HUNTER Valley NSW Australia..
        is a proven area for grows!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        HEMPATHY4:2012 & onwards…………

    • Mguthrie007

      Keep it up, my man, talkin the good word and stay positive in your efforts, for they are greatly appreciated. Cannabis is the best medicine in the world, and the sooner this is realized , the better, and all the needless suffering can stop and sick people everywhere can start enjoying life again without being persecuted, threatened,harrassed and discriminated against.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Malcolm-Kyle/100001700224506 Malcolm Kyle

    Want to know what a return to alcohol prohibition would look like?

    Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance, Feb, 2010:  A 13 strong, heavily armed gang of illegal alcohol “bootleggers” kidnapped two members of a rival gang, tortured them, homosexually assaulted them, and then buried them alive.Â

    http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/bootleggers-accused-of-raping-and-burying-alive-rival-gang

    Now add to that the problem of tainted booze:

    In just one instance alone, in 2009, more than 100 people died after drinking toxic alcohol in the Indian state of Gujarat (India’s only dry state) and another 200 victims were hospitalized. The Indian police raided 1,200 liquor dens and arrested more than 800 people as they searched for those responsible for the illegal alcohol.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-07-11/bootleg-alcohol-kills-over-100-in-india/1349564

  • johnmckinney of New Mexico

    say we gotta young asthmatic lying in a hole dying a political prisoner in Texas. (Chris Diaz)  They let off TCU football players with a quarter pound, this kid with a mmj liscence from Cal going to a funeral…they are killing him 1/4 ounce…fucking help this kid, thatd make a statement Branz
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=64vi3jpqnNgÂ

  • http://www.facebook.com/macm25 Corey Miller

    whatever! With all his money he has not accomplished what we have with none for the legalization of cannabis. Viva la revolucion!

  • iamfreddyo

    Normally I am not a supporter of the wealthy for a few reasons, one being they only usually care about their own points of view and ignore those of us that havent been so lucky in life. Granted Sir Richard would probably never take the time to talk to someone such as myself but that is something I never would worry about. Im very happy to read from this article (providing its not based on BS) that  Mr Branson is dedicating some of his time and influence toward ending the war on drugs. Personally I’ve never seen any harm coming from the use of Marijuana except thru the gangs and even the law that says their trying to stop it. Other drugs, Yes they do cause alot of harm especially when abused but thru prescription even they can be beneficial to the ill and terminally ill. I say Yaaay for Sir Richard and have hopes for the future as it is people like him that are able to help bring about change even easier than throngs of people at rallies are able to to this point.

  • cjp@escariot.co.za

    Well written article my good man and one can only hope the Man himself reads it and takes stock of what both he and you have reiterated once again. Time for change! CJP

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alejo-Alberdi/625003831 Alejo Alberdi

    Since he’s in the banking business, I’d like to hear more from him about money laundering and tax havens, and less about the Portuguese experience. I didn’ like at all his role in the Versus Debate

  • Joe Rogers

    Welcome aboard, Richard.