Richard Branson Talks Legal Drugs at NYC Press Conference in the Waldorf

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Esther Zuckerman
This morning, a bunch of high-powered people packed into a suite on the 33rd floor of the the Waldorf-Astoria to talk about drugs. Even though that might elicit thoughts of a Charlie Sheen-style bender, the meeting was, in fact, a press conference announcing a report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which broadly recommends ending what the report calls the "global war on drugs." Members of the commission sat at a table at the front of the suite, which was decorated with paintings of ancient ruins and had flowered curtains.

Former Brazilian president and chair of the Commission Fernando Henrique Cardoso assured his audience that the members of the organization are "all people from, let me say, the establishment -- not libertarian people."

Yes, the panelists, which included the former president of Colombia César Gaviria and former president of Switzerland Ruth Dreifuss, all did look like they were from the "establishment" and not just a bunch of guys who really like weed. In fact, all men at the table wore suits and ties. That is, except for Commission member Richard Branson, the British billionaire and Virgin Group founder, who wore what appeared to be a black-velvet jacket (we didn't touch it to make sure) and a white shirt with an open collar.

The report, which these men and women were in New York to promote, advocates that countries stop "the criminalization, marginalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but do no harm to others"; try "models of legal regulation of drugs" (especially pot); and offer health services to addicts. These changes, they claim, will promote a better social and economic welfare for countries who have spent too much money fighting drugs by prohibiting their use.

"What we've learned is that the war on drugs has increased drug usage, it's filled our jails, it's cost millions of dollars and other currencies of taxpayer dollars, and it's fueled organized crime worldwide," Branson said during the conference.

Media from around the world squeezed into one room of the otherwise fairly expansive suite -- 33H, if you were wondering -- as speakers went to the podium and described different sides of the Commission's argument. Gaviria talked about its relation to violence in Latin America, while Dreifuss explained aspects of the medical part of the issue at hand. Branson was the last Commission member to speak and was introduced as the "co-founder" of the mysterious "group of distinguished people known as the Elders."

"This is one of the most pressing issues in the world today so I'd like to thank you for being here and taking part in a special day in history -- the day when we start to end the war on drugs," he said dramatically, his white mane gleaming in the television camera lights.

The only person to come to the podium who decided to make a drug joke was the co-founder and executive director of Avaaz, which ran a petition asking people to support the cause.

"I have to admit when I was first approached by a couple of experts about a mass public campaign for the decriminalization of drugs, the first thought that went through my head was, 'What have these guys been smoking?'" he said.


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7 comments
Wify strainhunter
Wify strainhunter

the Global Commission on Drug Policy can save the globe and the population!!!  prohibition let me stay 4 years in house arrest!! and my grandmother and grandfather needs medicine or they can die for cancers!!  I wanna save them but I can't!! the law in italy want me as a criminal and want my grandparents dead!! 

Screw YOU
Screw YOU

Who elected these rich fags to tell me what I can and can not do?

guest
guest

What a terrible newspost. Whoever wrote this is THE WORST writer ever. All you focused on is biased crap about how they looked and "the only drug joke." Pathetic dude. Get real reporters. This is a serious issue.

David Hill
David Hill

The Home Office's response statement today makes me sick to the back teeth in stating that drugs destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities. For it was this very same Home Office who were told that the Vietnamese government have developed a humane cure for heroin addiction et al but where they simply did not want to know about it. Our senior civil servants just do not live in the real world.  This treatment where there is no cold turkey and is perfectly safe, was not even entertained when eminent international doctors  visited them.Indeed during Labour’s rule these very same civil servants stopped the Vietnamese government trialling the humane cure. Total hypocrites and government should stop purporting that they really care when they do not even look into this miracle cure that in Vietnam has cured over 20,000 hard drug addicts and nearly 300 westerners. WE do not here much about it because Vietnam is a communist country thus not generally open to the West. But when they offered their hand of help, the Home Office turned them down and gave no reasons whatsover. The media and cranks are no better either, as they think that the cure cannot be real. It certainly is and cures/detoxifies the patient in Vietnam within 5 days. Many in Vietnam and those who have witnessed it in the West say that it is a miracle cure and basically that is what it really is. In the West also scientific assessment is only just starting to reach out from Vietnam, but as *Dr. Anthony Phillips of the UBC is finding out already, Heantos is highly promising on a scientific basis with no toxic outcomes.  If of further interest visit,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... Dr David HillExecutive DirectorWorld Innovation Foundation *Dr. Anthony Phillips is the Scientific Director of CIHR's Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction, one of thirteen of the Government of Canada's agencies for health research. The 13 Institutes of CIHR provides leadership and support to nearly 12,000 health researchers and trainees across Canada. Dr Phillips is an international leader in his field and no crank. 

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

The War on Drugs failed Billions of dollars ago!  This money could have been used for outreachprograms to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing,free rehab, and clean needles.  Harmlessdrugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy.  Cannabis can provide hemp for countless naturalrecourses and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state in ourcountry out of the red!  Vote Teapot,PASS IT, and legalize it.  Voice youopinion with the movement and download my FREE poster at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...  

Richcats
Richcats

if its illegal dont do it. dont blame them for you predicament! it all you bro!

Richcats
Richcats

i can see you will fight against anything! if i say white you will say black! its these 'fags' that get off their ass and actually do something and not scream from the cheap seats..

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