One of the most powerful voices in international travel has entered the debate on one of the most controversial issues here – that of the decriminalization of marijuana.
The founder of the Virgin Group, which includes Virgin Atlantic, Sir Richard Branson today threw his support behind those calling for the use of small amounts of cannabis to be made legal.
Speaking at the Business is an Adventure leadership conference at the Hilton Barbados Resort Sir Richard said the fight against drug use globally had been “an abject failure for the last 60 years”, and the authorities here should consider treating the issue as a health matter, not a criminal one.
Pointing out that there have been detailed research on “the war on drugs” over the years, the billionaire adventurer said to applause it was “absolutely clear that if you treat people that have a drug problem as a health issue and not a criminal issue you are much more likely to address it and help them and get over that problem and become useful members of society”.
“So we welcome the different experimentations going on around the world and we welcome countries that have tried decriminalizing drugs. We welcome states that have actually legalized marijuana,” he added, contending there had been no increase in cannabis use in where it had been legalized.
A report last October by the Drug Policy Alliance, a nonprofit organization in the United States which favours marijuana legalization, said three years after the US states of Colorado and Washington legalized ganja, there had been very little impact on the various public health measures, while use of the drug by teenagers had not changed.
Canada recently laid out its plan to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana by June 2018, which will make it the largest developed nation to end marijuana prohibition.
Earlier this week internationally acclaimed reggae artistes Ryan Chase, also known as Buggy Nhakente and Ozzie Reid, who is also known as Leadpipe called for the decriminalization of the drug.
Government has so far rejected such calls here, with Attorney General Adriel Braithwaite in his most recent comment on the issue, calling for more research on the impact of the drug.