Billionaire Sir Richard Branson has called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to decriminalise drugs in Australia, the Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday.
Branson, who is the commissioner for the Global Commission on Drug Policy, issued the challenge in a submission to the federal government’s National Ice Taskforce, which last week pledged nearly $300m to the drug-treatment sector as part of a new prevention strategy.
But the agencies providing such services are claiming they have been left in limbo by another short-term funding extension.
Branson is calling for an end to “counterproductive drug-law enforcement” and to “scale up” evidence based prevention, harm reduction and treatment measures, the Herald reported. He said the trend towards decriminalisation by many countries including Ireland, Canada and Mexico shows a radical shift.
“Drug use should be treated as a health issue, not as a crime. While the vast majority of recreational drug users never experience any problems, people who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell,” he said.
Branson also said that legalisation would save lives as people wouldn’t fear arrest when accessing healthcare services.