Richard BransonRichard Branson

Richard Branson

Richard Branson is a member of The Global Commission on Drug Policy.

The purpose of The Global Commission on Drug Policy is to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.

Persuaded that the association between drug trade, violence and corruption was a threat to democracy in Latin America, the Commission reviewed the current ‘war on drugs’ policies and opened a public debate about an issue that tends to be surrounded by fear and misinformation.


Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 statement by Richard BransonCannabis Culture Awards 2012 statement by Richard Branson

The Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 were awarded in both Amsterdam and Barcelona. In Barcelona, winner Richard Branson stated that legal cannabis could solve Spain’s economic crisis and that the move regarding the Weedpass in the Netherlands was a mistake.

Richard Branson and Ben Dronkers at the CCA ceremony in BarcelonaRichard Branson and Ben Dronkers at the CCA ceremony in Barcelona
The Global Commission on Drug Policy

Branson is a member of The Global Commission on Drug Policy and sits on the Honorary Board of the Drug Policy Alliance. He is one of the most eloquent and famous advocates for the decriminalisation of cannabis. An important cornerstone of Branson’s business success has been to recognise when a strategy is not working and to have the foresight to change direction when the situation requires it. The war on drugs is a failed enterprise as far as Branson is concerned.

This is why he thinks that governments need to learn from the failures of drug policy and have the courage to enact better solutions.

Richard BransonRichard Branson
Being true to yourself

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group, a conglomerate of more than 400 companies. His corporate career began when he founded the magazine Student at 16. Later he would go on to establish a record label and music stores and then start companies in aviation, rail, financial services, media, and even the world’s first commercial spaceline.  In 2007, Time Magazine included Branson in its list of the world's 100 most influential people.

Regarding his entrepreneurial practices, Branson once said: "For me business is not about wearing suits, or keeping stockholders pleased. It's about being true to yourself, your ideas and focusing on the essentials."

Richard BransonRichard Branson
Branson on smoking cannabis

In the early 2000s, Branson, his charity arm Virgin Unite, Peter Gabriel and Nelson Mandela, began The Elders initiative, an independent group of former statesmen who work together for peace and human rights, which Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu also took part. Branson and Virgin Unite also lent his support to charities ranging from environmental and species conservation to the elimination of atomic weapons.

In 2007, Richard Branson stated in an interview with GQ Magazine that during a holiday he smoked cannabis with his son: "I don't think smoking the occasional spliff is all that wrong. I'd rather my son did it in front of me than behind closed doors."

Cannabis Culture Awards 2012 statement by Richard BransonCannabis Culture Awards 2012 statement by Richard Branson
War on drugs has failed

In 2011, Branson became a member of the Global Commission on Drugs Policy, together with six ex-presidents, Nobel prizewinners, and entrepreneurs from fourteen countries (the Netherlands was not represented). On 2 June 2011, the commission presented its report on international drugs policies in New York. At the event, Branson stated that the war on drugs has failed to limit drug use, but instead has filled prisons, cost millions of tax dollars, stimulated organised crime and caused thousands of deaths. He went on to say that the good news is that new methods aimed at regulation and decriminalisation have shown to be effective and that our leaders, including businesses, should be looking for alternative methods based on the facts.

Richard BransonRichard Branson
Learn the lessons and move on

In 2012, Branson joined the advisory board for the Drug Policy Alliance, an American NGO that is fighting for the reform of drug policies. On 24 January, he testified before the British House of Commons on behalf of the parliamentary research committee for drug policies.

A day earlier, his unambiguous column on the subject was published in the Daily Telegraph. "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."