Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson deserves every credit for sticking his head above the parapet supporting the decriminalisation of drug use.
Branson gives evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee Inquiry into drug policy tomorrow.
Today writing in the Daily Telegraph he said: “The war on drugs is a failed enterprise. We need to have the courage to learn the lessons and move on.”
“Too many of our leaders worldwide are ignoring policy reforms that could rapidly reduce violence and organised crime, cut down on theft, improve public health and reduce the use of illicit drugs.”
Read the rest for yourself and then consider the many better uses that the $1 trillion spent in the fruitless battle against drugs over the last 50 years could have been put to.
Countries like Portugal and Switzerland have applied new approaches to drug use treating it as a health rather than criminal issue – and now is the time for fresh thinking in the UK.
I have to declare a personal interest. Red wine, my tipple of choice, has begun to disagree with me. I would definitely consider smoking a relaxing spliff as a vino substitute if it were legalised – and taxed.
I’d need to know the dope’s quality and strength; and the really harmful ingredient tobacco would have to be replaced.
I would proceed warily; my experiments with the stuff as a student more than 40 years were all failures – either I felt nothing or ill.
I’m also aware that prolonged use especially at today’s concentrations can do psychological harm. I know also that pill popping kids do die.
Branson’s point with which I agree is that prohibition doesn’t work. Some of the money saved by regulating drug use could be diverted into educational and treatment programmes.
I’ve no time for the argument which says if you legalise drugs why not murder; you can’t stamp that out either. Taking drugs is something you do to your own body to change your mental state. Like alcohol – without the violence.