Cannabis taxation: a win-win all round, Richard Branson tells MPs
Virgin boss appears before Commons committee to argue for regulation of drug and diversion of resources to crime-fighting
Alan Travis, home affairs editor
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 24 January 2012
The market for cannabis in Britain should be regulated and taxed, and responsibility for drug policy moved from the Home Office to the health department, Sir Richard Branson has told MPs.
The Virgin Group head said the 20% of police time and £200m spent on giving criminal sentences to 70,000 young people for possession of illegal drugs in Britain each year would be better spent going after the criminal gangs at the centre of the drugs trade. "It's win-win all round,'' he told the Commons home affairs select committee.
Asked about his personal history of drug use, Branson replied: "I would say 50% of my generation has smoked cannabis. I would say 75% of my children's generation has smoked cannabis … If I was smoking cigarettes, I would be very worried."
He said that in his own Virgin companies he did not think staff who were found to be taking drugs should be dismissed but instead treated as having a problem, and helped. "There are many people in companies with drink problems or smoking problems," he said. ..................(more)