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Great to see the #warondrugs debate continuing across the political - and social media - spectrum. Q&A in Canada, Russell Brand Select Committee in the UK, beautiful photo blog in the US...
Gratified to see the debate on the drug war is going on across the political spectrum...
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+Richard Branson I am a recovering addict and I am glad for the debate. Though I am not happy with the new DSM V as to their definition of addiction nor am I happy with the direction treatment has gone over the past 15 years. Here in the USA they seem to pay for jail before treatment.
It's also really great to see an organization with the money and influence that Virgin has standing up in support of common sense legislation. You have our thanks.
when the hunger games stop and children and let to think and be free in comfortable environment, coached with love, and they don't see sufferings and wars, anything that affects their growing minds, a virgin village of that sort
I have friends who have been lost to addiction and I just want to say thank you to +Richard Branson as well as anyone else who tries to help. You guys rock, keep it up, sadly I fear it's a war that will never end as people will always be in pain and thus will always seek escape regardless of the consequences of the method.
I like the idea there about removing the right to use certain drugs if they are abused. Drugs ARE a problem, but this 'war on drugs' is a disproportionate evasive policy. They are a personal choice, as long as they don't infringe upon the personal freedom of others. It seems to be the illegality that drives most people towards them. They're like, a big 'fuck you' to the laws that infringe personal freedom.
Apply the same thinking to drugs that good parents apply to teenagers' drinking: allow it in moderation to remove the lure of rebellion. Teach people ABOUT drugs. Not JUST that drugs are bad. Then you'll have a balanced attitude towards drugs among the general population.
Forgive the tone of condescension, but as a species we really need to grow up. We have all this fantastic technology, and yet, we haven't been able to raise our collective intelligence to an analogous level.
Right now, we're a monkey with a machine gun.
The war on drugs can only end in a stalemate. The future has no place for the draconian drug laws upheld now. I feel sad when I think of future historians looking back on us and thinking "This was the age that truly gave birth to the modern day, a revolutionary age in terms of technology, but a stagnant age in the realm of collective intelligence".
C'mon. We're too advanced for this shit. Let's bring our legal system and system of governance up to par.

Steven McCusker, couldn't have said it any better myself...kudos!
too much money invested politically in US to stop the fight
Russel's testimony nearly makes me tear up every time I watch/hear it. This is a man who recovered from the depths of addiction to become an internationally known comedian/actor with a very serious message. I have no idea why we don't listen to people who have come out of such situations with more gravity than some politician playing whatever cards he was paid to deal. Thank you, +Richard Branson for using your very public presence to bring some common sense (among many other things) to the public forefront.

Also, +Steven McCusker, I feel as if we have something really obvious in common but I can't quite place it lol.
on a lighter note really love the new ice cubes on Virgin! lol
The war on drugs must be fought on all fronts. We've seen the lives of youth being destroyed here in Kenya and more so in Mombasa. About 60% of the youth in Mombasa- Kenya have their lives destroyed by cocaine.

High rate of unemployment also plays a bigger role because the youth have lost hope in life. Having gone to school and still one could not secure employment-it really demoralizes a person.

Take me for example, I graduated in 2008 from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology,Bachelor of Education (Arts)-Economics and History, with the grade of Second Class Honours (Upper Division). I have been looking for employment since then. I joined Kao La Tumaini (Shelter of Hope) Secondary School in Korogocho slum as a volunteer and later left for Neema Senior School -in Mathare slum, in April 2010 due to insecurity.

Since I come from a poor family, a was given government loan through Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) of Ksh. 167,000 (US$ 1,988.10) which I was required to start paying by 2008. In all these two schools, I have been getting a volunteer allowance of Ksh.10,000 (US$ 119.05) per month. With this, I'm to pay for rent, transport, buy food, clothes and other miscellaneous expenses. This amount normally come to an end even before month end and so, I just have to survive. Sometimes walking for about 5km to work and back and leave alone having something to eat.

Today, I went to check on my loan and I found that it has grown from Ksh.167,000 (1,988.10) to Ksh. 434,100 (US$ 5,167.86) and will continue to grow if I do not start prepaying. I was informed that starting this month, they will be deducting Ksh. 5,500 (US$ 65.48) till the recover the whole amount. I have tried pleading with them but that has gone into deaf ears. This means that half of my volunteer allowance will be gone. I asked them how I'll be paying my single room house rent, going to work, buying food, leave alone buying clothes to put on!
This amount is small if one has a good job. I strongly believe that I can settle it within a period of 3 years if I can get a good job.
I have been volunteering as a teacher from 2007 to date. I have been looking for employment ever since.
All I'm requesting from friends here is that they help me to secure any job. I'm ready to do any work just to help me clear this loan.
If there is any person who knows of a high school looking for Economics/ Business Studies/History teacher, to kindly inform me so that I can apply.
Sir Richard Branson, I'm kindly requesting you to kindly consider me in your firm I know I can help even on the part of sales/marketing or even just to gain some experience and get something small that could help me settle this loan.
Everyone has the right to believe and practice whatever does no harm to others. No one has the right to cause or allow anyone's right to be violated, by anyone, not even anybody's government.
+Michael Nyawino Please learn this lesson from USA/Europe, we're just about to learn it ourselves after half a century of human suffering on a scale comparable to a real war. There is no such thing as a war on drugs. You're talking about war on people, a war the people loses, because a certain percentage of the population will always use drugs. Society can lower that percentage by treating people like people, or it can make it higher by treating people like animals. Drugs will always be around. Even in prisons, where security is what you'd think is not just extreme, but absolute. Drugs are flowing in every prison on the planet.

It doesn't matter how much security, threats, suffering, hatred, destruction of lives and suffering you use to fight the war on drugs. The only sensible thing to do is to end the war and help people who use drugs, and they're more likely to stop, more likely to come out of hiding, more likely to get help, more likely to not feel like an enemy of the state and act accordingly. And criminal organizations will vaporize, because they have no more income from distributing drugs. 95% of all petty theft and burglaries are the result of addiction. That would've been wiped away overnight if addicts got help instead of punishment. Security companies would go bankrupt just as quickly. The Police would be able to put their effort where it belongs, to help people, not harass, kick around and further destroy the lives of addicts and marijuana smokers, which they, like the German-speaking camp guards of the past, unfortunately have learned to enjoy doing because they're convinced they're fighting the good fight. And why should they think differently, there's a war going on.

Punishment is stupid and colossally destructive. And it makes it more likely your kids will become addicts, because if they find out, like a growing number of people do (including the British Medical Association, The Independent, New Scientist), that marijuana is harmless compared to alcohol, they might become interested in lighting up instead of drinking a alcohol. But in order to get marijuana, they have to talk to people who also got hard drugs, and don't mind telling them about them. Without this state-induced system of advertising for hard drugs, very, very few people would ever try them.

This isn't arguing a case out of defeat in the war of drugs, I'm pointing out it's a war on human nature and humans, not drugs, and the winning position is to deal with people's needs instead of a non-existent enemy. Winning a war on drugs is like winning over a mental disease by kicking and beating mental patients all day long, it can't be done. Drug addiction is indeed a mental disease.

Fewer people using drugs is what every country experiences who take a different approach and stop destroying lives (and thereby families) by the thousands with the torment of prison terms lasting decades because it feels good to make people using drugs suffer, it gives an illusion of accomplishment for politicians, judges and the police. The same satisfaction the Inquisition felt in the 1500 century, and the satisfaction the executors in Auschwitz felt. All parties feel like they're clearing out bad weeds, keeping society clean. That's your position on 'the war on drugs', and it's one that I hope you'll change if you're a decent human being.
Does Virgin drug test its employees? I'm grateful for your outspoken stance on this issue but left wondering if your actions match your words. Employee drug testing is a major driver of people using harder drugs, since they don't linger in your system like pot does. There's a case to be made for testing pilots and the like, except alcohol is always going to be the real safety threat.
I think I would be ok with Drug Legalization so long as any crimes committed while under the influence were considered more severe in some way. People need to be held extra accountable for using these substances, in the hopes they'll use them with more care and precaution.

My thoughts on the matter aren't fully formed or researched, but that's my initial "gut" feeling.
There is no winning the war on drugs,as long as the Governments and Corps are making large sums of money on them and the policies. All you have to do is look at the data. We live in a world of the Merchent minded.All issues and trends are for profit .
+Harold LA.Shomb Jr. I bet Eisenhower never thought the age of the prison-industrial complex would ever arrive. It's all insanity, built on another kind of insanity: People voting on GOP because Jesus is a republican. Against health care, against helping the poor, for the rich and for anarcho-capitalism. It's all just complete mayhem and it won't go away until the current crop of old people die out and Fox News loses control of their party and capitol hill. At least in the Wild West, people just got shot once in a while. It was a much saner period in USAs history.
Legalize most, but not all. Tax the legal ones like pot and solve the world economy. Taliban would no longer exist if Afghans legally grew cannabis etc.
Yes, but I have this fear that, once all the old guys die out, Hans, we'll revert to the more extreme kind of institutionalised hell all over again... perhaps that was the game plan all along, who knows?
love flying virgin but my last trip was regretful... first my set didnt adjust so the flight attendent offerd me a different set do to me being a big guy in the middle of two others. so i was like cool but then the set he moves me to didnt adjust either. then he offers another guy to move who by the eay was just fine where he was and guess what.... yup that set was adjustable... uncomfortable flight.
Certain military agencies continue to deal in drugs to fund illegal ops. We are only in Afghanistan for oil just like we were in Iraq and soon Iran for oil.
The war on drugs makes little sense when you think of the actual effect it has on the demand for the drug. When they do have any effect on the supply it just raises prices prices on the end user. Making the war on drugs have its real cost paid by the taxpayers and end users at home and very little change on the cost for producers. 
Decriminalising drugs is the first step in dealing with just one of the scourges that faces our society...alcohol abuse being the chief among them.
Hmm... alcohol is a legal drug and it's abuse is higher than ever. Does that mean we can look forward to a similar thing happening when they decriminalise other drugs???
+Susannah Oldfield There are numbers on this from countries who have gone ahead and decriminalized drugs, can't remember them from the top of my head. Both use and abuse went down. No other initiative has had this effect, including life sentences and Orwellian horrors. That's probably why Richard Branson joined the debate to begin with. Alcoholics who switch to f.ex. marijuana (many do given the opportunity) can go on being substance abusers until they tire from it or get treatment without wreaking permanent havoc on their bodies and brains on a cellular level. Alcohol is a toxin, marijuana is as toxic as a piece of loaf.
well it would be better to smoke and be legal not going in jail for smoking marijuana and deal with murder in jail...
some are not criminal but need for seekness therapy often because of cancer, in Vancouver they do give a prescription and control the TH. so its help them, they give by prescription the miracle herbs so its helps for stress, intestinal or muscular deficiency problem like fibromialgie ..
.its help the body to relax and for a while not suffered or less suffer, less hurt result a break for the people who are dilling with their health problem and really need too relax and also those people are not dangerous and and no comparaison like the alcohol...
learn the possibilities versus the effect, its depends of the body type reaction too !!
The WOD will NEVER end! It will be a continuing waste of money until everyone wakes up and realizes that when you make something illegal, people will always find a way to smuggle it and traffic it to a consumer.
I know Sir Richard is against the war on drugs, but in my opinion legalizing them will make the cartels into legitimate business, they will grow even more wealthy selling drugs to people who would not normally break the law trying them. Addictions will increase a thousand fold and more dangerous and lethal drugs will fill the void left getting rid of tobacco. It will become the new curse on society far greater than alcohol and tobacco combined. The war is not being won but making dangerous addictive drugs legal is not the answer. I don't know what the answer is but other options should be looked at before committing to disaster.
Peter, have you ever tried 'drugs'? I think it is tricky to really comment unless you have actual personal experience. How would 'illegal' drug cartels become legitimate when the already hugely powerful 'legal' drug companies will just take over licensing of any newly legalised drugs. Is it better be be addicted to Prozac, Valium, alcohol and tobacco? Why? If all drugs were legal, the same health warnings would apply. I would much rather the town centres be full of people on cannabis or ecstasy than alcohol personally, but then I have experience of all of these to compare. Why is alcohol so cool and acceptable that we allow our kids to try it? Politicians & the media have an agenda about 'drugs' the same as terrorism, keep everyone scared and manageable.
Prohibition of alcohol in the US was very ineffective just as the current very expensive "War on Drugs" is, especially when you count the cost of imprisoning so many otherwise law-abiding citizens. It is time to decriminalize the staple crop of marijuana and tax it as well as giving farmers another crop option. I hope my teenage kids don't get into smoking pot (or smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol) as much as I did at that age but I broke laws to do it then and it sure didn't stop me.
War on drugs, terrorism or any subject which can be used to facilitate the control of one group over another is the real objective. The war on education is the tool most used to insure that facts are manipulated to deceive and divert perception. Those who are willing to let someone else lead them to their own conclusion in the end will bring everyone down as a society. Thanks to greed and power we will never be all that we could be.
The problem is they don't market common cortousy and respect when they market their drugs. They market alchohol and tobacco then they promote people going out and doing stupid things. You can do perfectly stupid thing while your sober no problem. And you go to a park to get some fresh air then you have a person next to you blowing smoke while your trying to enjoy the air. Smoke do your drugs at home, but you cross the line when your ruin someone else's life. Yeah, and all those drug users driving with wheel chair stickers seriously if they need a special plate they need public transit. They don't need to be on the highways the highways are dangerous enough without having to worry about people on perscription "legal" drugs driving. So what's the difference. One is legal one is not you take common curtosey out of everything we're all SOL.
War on drugs...another war that is perpetuated by money and greed. De- criminalize the drugs and eliminate problem.
Yes Stuart I have tried marijuana in my university days, and I don't have a problem with decriminalizing that, but I do with killer drugs like heroin, cocain, crack, ice, gmb and the like. It only takes one hit to turn some ordinary people into addicts, and how many more people will have that one hit if they know it's not a criminal offense to do so. Why do you think pushers hang around high schools? one hit gets a teen hooked, another customer. that won't stop. Also I don't see why only addicts or reformed addicts are the only people eligible to have an opinion, Many art critics have no artistic talent. How many film critics know their way around a camera or movie set, and I'll bet you have an opinion about politicians but have you ever been one? and many football commentators have played the sport, but many others haven't, they are still entitled to have opinions and make comments. Hard drugs kill and ruin lives and destroy families and decriminalizing them is not going to stop desperate addicts burgling and holding up 7eleven stores to pay for their next hit, because regardless of how high or lower the price for them might become, full time addicts do not work for a living, many steal or go into prostitution, that won't stop. Twenty years ago the Australian state of Victoria didn't have poker machines, they were illegal. Many people took annual or monthly bus trips to New South Wales to have an occasional fling, harmless enough. Victoria didn't have a large gambling problem. Then they legalized them, now Victoria has an epidemic gambling problem, out of control because pokies are in almost every hotel, club and social venue, in every town and city. In other words they are easy to access, and so too will hard drugs be easier to access if decriminalized. It is my opinion, and I am entitled to it, but I see the problem worsening with decriminalizing. As I said, the war is not being won, and I don't know what the answer is but that is not the way to go.
Decriminalisation would mean the drugs are controlled by the state Peter, and therefore restricted so addicts could be treated for the reasons why they become addicted, not put in jail where they can get whatever drug they want and become part of the underclass. If, like in California you need a prescription and prices are strictly controlled, then the whole profit issue is taken away from criminals. If people did not have to mix with criminals to obtain drugs the whole deck of cards would fall in. Have you watched the video on this blog which highlights that illegal drug activity just feeds law enforcement agencies and politicians just like war. No wars, no military, can you imagine the US or UK coping without the multi-billion dollar arms industry? The same applies to 'narcotics'. What would the DEA do? Fear is a massive weapon that politicians use to control freedom. What irony that the media, showbiz, the LSE and Wall Street are all fuelled by cocaine.

Why do people take drugs in the first place? No government will address real social issues whilst all the attention is on fighting the drug war. Remove profit, remove drug war.
I am waiting for the industrial hemp debate. The debate on whether Peak Oil is a product of real of contrived scarcity - as with diamonds. The debate on the 125 year fraud of Corporate Personhood. The debate on Depleted Uranium and whether ordaining it by politicians and military men makes them war criminals. We need debates on the big issues of our age.

But more vitally, we need Open Source Discourse on these issues, to get past Left and Right, Pro and Con, Right and Wrong, two sides of the bifurcated, binary thinking and dialectical thinking, that leaves us victims to the politics of controlled opposition of Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum.

Big corporate-state or big state-corporation have converged over 40 years towards bringing us Chernobyl, Bhopal, Deepwater, Fukushima and a global great depression, with coverups, unaccountable authority, and astromical debts of synthetic derivative debt bondage based on fraud, that is pillaging and bankrupting the world.

We need an Open Source Discourse badly. It should start with the issue of Corporate Personhood, from which many of Civilization problems have grown, and grown, and grown.
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