For those who don’t already know, Sir Richard Branson is an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He is the Founder of Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies (who remembers the good old days of Virgin Megastore?) and has a net worth of £4.2 billion. He currently lives on Necker Island which is situated within the British Virgin Islands. He has personally owned this island since 1978.
Key career highlights
1970 – Set up a mail-order record business
1972 – Opened a chain of record stores, Virgin Records, later known as Virgin Megastores, which was also a record label
1984 – Founded Virgin Atlantic
1992 – To keep his airline company afloat, sold the Virgin label to EMI for £500 million
1993 – Entered the railway business by forming Virgin Trains
1996 – Created V2 Records to re-enter the music business, owning 5% himself
1999 – Launched Virgin Mobile
2000 – Knighted at Buckingham Palace for “services to entrepreneurship”
2007 – Launched Virgin Media after selling Virgin Mobile to NTL
Pro – Cannabis
In the media, Branson has always been very vocal about his opinion of cannabis and its legalisation, particularly within the UK. He believes that regulation and legalisation can shift the paradigm when it comes to drugs and remove the elements of criminality that have plagued drugs for decades. He is among 100 key industry figures to sign a public declaration in favour of the decriminalisation of cannabis, alongside names such as former Beatle Paul McCartney.
His experiences of drug use are documented within his autobiography, Losing My Virginity, where he states that Rolling Stone Keith Richards taught him how to roll is first blunt, but does state that he has used drugs “rarely”.
When he launched his Virgin stores in 2001, Brand made clear that he would like to sell legalised cannabis, but not cigarettes due to the health implications of tobacco use ( you should try a UK Vaporizer Sir Richard!). He clearly understands the key differences between the two substances and thus is a high profile advocate of the legalisation of cannabis in the UK.
In 2007, Branson made a public admission that he smoked cannabis with his son whilst on a surfing holiday in Australia and encouraged other parents to do the same. This unsurprisingly caused a lot of controversy within the media, but why? Branson commented “I don’t think smoking the occasional spliff is wrong. I’d rather my son did it in front of me rather than behind closed doors”
Screw it, Just do it!
In October 2016 at the West Coast Summit, he urged entrepreneurs who are looking to capitalise on the impending cannabis industry boom to “screw it, just do it!”, citing the beneficial impact such practices and policies have had on a country like Portugal.
As one of the most wildly successful entrepreneurs and free thinkers, who better than to have Richard Branson as one of the key pioneers towards the legalisation of cannabis globally.
We've already seen the proliferation of CBD vape juice into the UK market and we have starting to see the beginnings of medical cannabis being accepted in the UK too. It is only a matter of time before our government catch up with our common sense.