Richard Branson Has Some Interesting Views on the Drug War

Business Mogul Richard Branson and the U.K.'s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg are urging the U.K.'s government to decriminalize drug use and end its war on drugs. 

"As an investment, the war on drugs has failed to deliver any returns. If it were a business, it would have been shut down a long time ago. This is not what success looks like," the two wrote in the Guardian earlier this week.

According to Branson and Clegg, one in six school age children are drug users, and 2,000 U.K. residents die every year as a result of drug-related incidents. Last October, the U.K. presented results of a study of 11 countries' drug policies, and they indicate that being "tough" on drugs does not equate with success in curbing drug use. Yet, as Branson and Clegg point out, a strong enforcement approach has been the mindset of most western countries since the 1970's.

"The status quo is a colossal con perpetrated on the public by politicians who are too scared to break the taboo," they wrote.

One country that has broken the status quo is Portugal:

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized drug possession and drug use in response to high rates of drug addiction and heroin use. The country redirected its investment in drug prevention from law enforcement to rehabilitation and treatment.

The results speak for themselves. Portugal's drug use rates are now some of the lowest in the European Union, and it has seen a drop in the amount of addicts who are infected with HIV.

Clegg and Branson would like to see a similar approach in the U.K.

"The Portuguese system works, and on an issue as important as this, where lives are at stake, governments cannot afford to ignore the evidence," they wrote. "We should set up pilots to test and develop a British version of the Portuguese model."

To read more about Portugal and its decriminalized drug policies, click here