Richard Branson Defends Marijuana Legalization In Uruguay
Along with singer Gordon Sumner (better known as Sting), Branson is an honorary international board member of the Drug Policy Alliance – a US-based reform group that led a legalization campaign in Uruguay leading up to last month’s vote.
Uruguayan politician Gerardo Amarilla, a member of the conservative National Party who voted against the bill, accuses the celebrities of using Uruguay as a “laboratory” for policy reform without putting their own countries at risk, London Daily Telegraph reports.
“They shouldn’t be meddling in Uruguay… They should be lobbying in their own country because they’re not going to suffer the consequences here, the security and health problems.”But Richard Branson has long been critical of the global war on drugs and doesn’t seem too concerned about Amarilla’s response.
“This is a global problem, not a national issue, and everyone who can should speak out to help change the failed war on drugs.”Besides the Drug Policy Alliance, Branson is also an active member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, reports the Daily Mail.
He says years of scientific examination have led him and other members to conclude that prohibition “has failed and that there needs to be a different approach.” One that involves treating drugs “as a health problem not a criminal problem.”
While the campaign ultimately failed to sway public opinion on legalization – 63 per cent of the country still opposes legalizing marijuana according to a poll released last week – Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has backed the plan.
Mujica hopes his country’s unique approach to marijuana will serve as a “contribution to humanity” and eventually spur other countries to follow.
News that Uruguay may soon become the first country in the world to legalize marijuana has already sparked an international conversation on the merits of drug policy reform.
While the bill still requires a final vote from the Senate before becoming law, it is expected to pass smoothly in the next few months.