Richard Branson says Spain can solve its economic problems by legalizing marijuana

By Muriel Kane
Friday, May 11, 2012 18:45 EDT
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Branson at Hemp Museum screencap
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Sir Richard Branson believes that the ideal way for Spain to get out of its current morass of national debt, savage austerity cuts, and social turmoil would be to legalize and tax marijuana.

The billionaire founder of the Virgin Group suggested at the opening of the world’s largest cannabis museum in Barcelona on Wednesday that this policy “would help get the country back on its feet.”

Branson is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a body “which includes five ex-presidents and Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general, and which concluded last year that the war on drugs had failed and called for experiments in decriminalisation.”

Other members of the commission include former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Branson was invited to Barcelona to receive the Cannabis Culture Award 2012 on behalf of the commission and in recognition of its ground-breaking report. In his speech, his praised the nearby town of Rasquera, whose inhabitants voted to rent land to a Barcelona cannibis-growers’ society as part of an “anticrisis plan.”

The town’s mayor, Bernat Pellisa, explained that the idea to use marijuana to help get the town out of recession was inspired by the global commission’s report.

“It seems like a great idea to me,” Branson stated enthusiastically.

The Hemp Museum Gallery Barcelona was officially opened on Friday. According to ThinkSpain, it “will exhibit paintings, photos and drawings illustrating the use of cannabis throughout history, as well as some antique objects, like tools and instruments used to transform the hemp plant into rope, paper and fabric.”

This video of the opening ceremonies at the museum was uploaded to YouTube by Hash Museum TV on May 9, 2012.

Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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