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Sir Richard Branson: US Drug Policy Is Racist

The British billionaire slams the US War on Drugs for targeting African Americans.

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By McCarton Ackerman

10/04/12

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Sir Richard Branson is the latest celebrity to blast US drug policy, calling the war on drugs a "war on black people." The billionaire Virgin Group founder and member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy (a body of leading figures and politicians campaigning for more effective drugs laws) has called US drug policy racist, as evidenced by the high percentage of African Americans in prisons. "The fundamental difference in America, is that it is a war against black people in America," says Branson. "85% of people who go to prison for drug use in America are black people. They don't take more drugs, but it's a racist law against black people in America." The British business magnate cites Portugal, which decriminalized drug use but still prosecutes traffickers and dealers, as a superior model of effective and fair drug policy. He also urges the US government to treat addiction as an illness, emphasizing treatment and education over criminalizing addicts and drug users. "You’ve got something like 1.5 million people in American jails languishing for taking drugs and that is wrong," he says. "Those people would be much better being out in society, being helped if they have drug problem, getting off the problem."

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