Virgin Group tycoon Richard Branson has taken to his blog to urge the British government to change its drug policy. Read the text below:
The UK government spends around £3 billion a year on its current drugs policy. We know from research, such as the recent report from the UK Drugs Policy Commission, that the War on Drugs isn’t working.
Imagine if we spent this money on rehabilitation and prevention. As I’ve said before, we need to develop a new approach that treats drugs as a public health issue, rather than a criminal one.
We commend the government for commissioning a new study, which will send Jeremy Browne MP to Portugal and the U.S. to investigate alternative approaches. This is an important step in the right direction. It also highlights the change in attitudes towards drug reform in Westminster. But the government continues to reject decriminalization, while PM David Cameron has written off a comprehensive review of existing legislation.
If the War on Drugs were a business, we’d have shut it down immediately. Current drug policies are counter-productive, and we need to think seriously about new policies that will deliver good value for money.
The current approach in the UK is based on the Misuse of Drugs Act from 1971. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, has created a petition that calls on government ministers to carry out a fact-based, rational analysis of this legislation within the next year. If you agree that it would be a good idea to see how our current policies measure up against alternative approaches – in terms of minimizing the harms and costs of addiction and misuse - I encourage you to sign the petition.
For more on the progress being made to tackle the failed War on Drugs, take a look at the updated version of my book, Screw Business as Usual.