'The war on drugs has failed’: Sir Richard Branson tells LBC there needs to be ‘radical’ drug reform

30 July 2023, 13:35 | Updated: 30 July 2023, 21:48

’The war on drugs has failed’: Richard Branson tells LBC that there needs to be a ‘radical’ change in direction
’The war on drugs has failed’: Richard Branson tells LBC that there needs to be a ‘radical’ change in direction. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Alice Bourne

Sir Richard Branson, speaking to Andrew Castle, said that politicians don’t have the courage to speak out and admit drug policy failings and that reform should focus on an ‘acceptance’ that ‘millions of people do drugs.’

Following the Global Commission on Drugs Policy calling for a renewed approach to decriminalising drugs, the British businessman told Andrew Castle, “I have watched the war on drugs for 60 years, I have seen that it's been an abject failure”.

He continued: “I have lost friends to drugs, I have friends that have lost kids to drugs and nations have continued with this failed war on drugs when there obviously needs to be a change of direction.”

The Global Commission on Drug Policy, of which Sir Richard is a commissioner, “consists of 20 ex-presidents and statesman including people like Kofi Annan who used to be secretary general of the United Nations” and they “felt absolutely convinced that the war on drugs was one of the biggest travesties of our time and that there needed to be a radical change in direction”.

Read More: William slashes cost to stay in his luxury homes 'so they are cheaper than a Travelodge'

Speaking of some of the studies by the group, Sir Richard said: “They were clear that we can’t just carry on the way we are… it is the biggest regret of my life that we have not seen more radical change."

Lewis and caller Graham unpack complexities of legalising drugs

Speaking about the current international situation the Virgin Group founder said: “There are more illicit drugs than ever before, the entire market is dominated by criminal organisations that don’t care about people's health or safety.”

Explaining the radical change he’d like to see in drug policy he asked the question: “If you had a child that had a drug problem would you want to call up the police and have them put in prison or given a criminal record or would you want them to be helped? I think most people would want them to be helped.”

“I think the same applies to politicians, they don’t have the courage to speak out about it and they don’t have the courage to do it.”

He concluded: “The situation is at the moment, there are millions of people that do take drugs, at festivals the majority of people are on ecstasy tablets, testing would avoid the horror stories and mean that parents could sleep easy at night.”

Read More: 'I'm on the drivers' side': Sunak tells Khan to 'think twice' on Ulez and orders review into low traffic neighbourhoods