Billionaire businessman Richard Branson last week spoke on CNN against the ‘War on Drugs’, labeling it “an abject failure”. Speaking in purely business terms, Branson said that if he “had a company that had failed for 60 years I would have closed it down 59 years ago”. He went on to cite the likes of Portugal, a country that has achieved success by treating those with drug problems, rather than punishing them (and thus all those connected to them) through incarceration.
Branson’s interview was related to his attendance and participation in a screening of the documentary Breaking The Taboo (trailer above) at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The film explores the conclusion reached by the Global Commission on Drug Policy in 2011 that drug liberalization is the best approach in dealing with drug policy, and features interviews with a number of former heads of state, including US Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso:
The War on Drugs has failed. After 50 years of prohibition, illicit drugs are now the third most valuable industry in the world after food and oil, all in the control of criminals. Drugs are cheaper and more available than ever before. Millions of people are in prison for drugs offences. Corruption and violence, especially in producer and transit countries, endangers democracy. Tens of thousands of people die each year in drug wars.
Improving our drug policies is one of the key policy challenges of our time. The time for action is now.
Breaking the Taboo is available to purchase from iTunes.