Debate shows desire to change outdated drug laws
- By Richard Branson -
- Mar 14, 2012
Fascinating taking part in the first ever live global debate on the war on drugs last night.
Versus - It’s Time To End The War On Drugs saw the likes of Russell Brand, Julian Assange and former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso join me on a team in favour of ending the war on drugs.
We spent over two hours debating with those against ending the war on drugs, led by the remarkably erudite former governor of New York Eliot Spitzer (who I have a sneaking suspicion was playing devil’s advocate and actually agrees with our argument!)
Our side, led by Geoffrey Robertson QC, put forward a strong case for reforming outdated drug laws and, as the Global Drug Commission has recommended, trying new approaches to tackling the problems.
We believe that drug issues must be seen as a health problem rather than a criminal one. The other side, eloquently in many cases (Lord Ian Blair, Antonio Maria Costa), absurdly in others (Peter Hitchens!) are sadly still determined to see drug users sent to jail rather than helped.
However, there was broad agreement that there needs to be renewed focus and debate on the drugs issue and hopefully this innovative event has helped to shine a light on a critical situation.
At the start of the debate, 92% of respondents globally agreed that it is time to end the war on drugs - after the debate this had increased to 95%. I look forward to seeing the debate continue around the world and urge governments to take notice of the clear desire for change, and to end the senseless war on drugs.
See all the photos from the Versus Debate
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group