Richard Branson’s advice for marijuana entrepreneurs: ‘Screw it, just do it’

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richard branson
David
McNew/Getty

Richard Branson is one of the most exuberant and successful
entrepreneurs of our time. Now, the UK’s eighth
richest
person is throwing his support behind the marijuana
industry.

Branson gave the keynote address at the New West Summit in San Francisco
over the weekend, where thousands of medicinal marijuana
patients, investors, and “potrepreneurs” converged to debate the
future of weed. The 66-year-old Virgin Group founder, who called
in via Skype, did not mince words.

When asked what advice he would give to the industry’s pioneers
who are leading the fight for legalization, Branson said,
“My main motto in life is, ‘screw it, just do it.'”

It was the first time Branson spoke so openly about
marijuana. For the last five years, however, the serial
entrepreneur has been a member of the
Global Commission on Drug Policy
, a 22-person panel of world
leaders and intellectuals that advocates for an end to the war on
drugs.

The group calls for the decriminalization of all drugs, and
believes regulating drugs — rather than “leaving it up to the
underworld,” Branson says — places a greater emphasis on public
health and protects the safety of communities around the
globe.


marijuana dispensary

A
budtender talks with a member of a legal cannabis club in
Barcelona, Spain.

David
Ramos/Getty


During his talk, which Branson gave
over a cup
of English tea from his home on Necker Island, he gave the
example of Portugal’s revolutionary drug policy. In 2001, the
small European country decriminalized marijuana, cocaine, heroin,
and other illicit substances to shift government efforts from
locking addicts up to providing treatment.

Drug-related HIV infections
plummeted
over 90% since 2001, while the number of people in
drug-treatment rose 60% from 1998 to 2011. The results were
astounding.

Branson called the move “a lot more effective than sending
you to prison.”

The business maverick did not rule out a future career in
marijuana.


If I was not part of the global drug
commission, I certainly would be out there in this industry,”
Branson said. “It’s an industry with enormous potential, and it
can do a lot of good.”

He ended by saying, “I’m going to go have a spliff, I
think.”

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