It’s no secret that Richard Branson, tech billionaire and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, is unabashedly in favor of more progressive marijuana laws. And it’s no secret that he has been known to speak his mind about issues most business executives would gladly avoid.
Over the weekend, Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, put an exclamation point on his cannabis advocacy, declaring he was in the mood to “take a spliff or two,” and that the rest of the world’s citizens are too.
Speaking via Skype to an estimated 1,000 conference goers at the New West Summit in San Francisco, Branson gave the keynote address on “The Future of Cannabis, Now.” In the speech, Branson, discussed ways in which legalization is a global benefit. As quoted in CNET:
“That’s the only way of sorting out the problems that come with drugs by not regulating and leaving it up to the underworld to supply drugs. Our commission has worked really quite hard on that. We’ve had some successes and some massive failures, we’re going to keep going until we get governments to see otherwise.”
Will the serial entrepreneur get involved in the cannabis industry? Not now, he says. But, as a businessman, he sees the growth potential.
” If I was not part of the global drug commission, I certainly would be out there in this industry. It’s an industry with enormous potential, and it can do a lot of good.”
Cannabis is a $7.2 billion industry and growing nearly 30 percent annually, according to New Frontier, a marijuana-focused data company. According to New Frontier projections, it is expected to hit $20 billion in four years.
The Global Commission on Drug Policy is a 22-member coalition of world leaders advocating for the end of the international war on drugs, including:
- Kofi Annan, former Secretary General of the United Nations
- George Schultz, former U.S. Secretary of State
- Paul Volker, former Fed chairman
- Ruth Driefuss, former president of Switzerland
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