Simon Carr:

The Sketch: The war on drugs? There's no fight Branson can't win

He knows better than anyone the way to crush enterprise is to have them register for VAT

Share
Related Topics

What an idea from Richard Branson, you can see why he's a billionaire. Representing the Global (sic) Commission on Drug Policy, he came along to Keith Vaz's Home Affairs Select Committee, tieless and surfing blond, to propose a revolution.

From his account, you could see how it could halve the crime rate, eliminate burglary, empty the prisons, dismantle the base of organised crime, reduce the num- ber of addicts and Class A deaths, swell tax revenues, sort out Afghanistan, and clear the deficit.

It's like that song by Flanders and Swann: "And its root in little doses keeps you free from halitosis, Oh there's nothing that the Wom Pom cannot do." Branson's got a wonder drug, and there are billions in it, untold billions.

His idea is to move the responsibility for narcotics from the Home Office to the health service. It's not legalising drugs, it's medicalising them. Addiction is an illness more than a crime and it needs treatment more than punishment. Normally, this brings out the inner Mail-reader in the best of us. But he surely says the truth that the "war on drugs has failed", that there are other ways of dealing with drugs, and it's time to try and get our hands on the £200bn that goes into the underworld every year.

Drug use might even fall. And it might. He knows better than anyone – the way to crush the spirit of enterprise and shackle the energy of entrepreneurs is to have them all register for VAT.

Branson insists there are various countries that have done this and addiction levels drop and national well-being bounces.

He had a pleasant old companion helping him make the case, but every time she said, "In Switz- erland, we have found that..." observers had to reach for their coke phials to keep them going.

A committee member suggested that the biggest opponents to his plan would be the drug barons and criminals. Maybe– but the UK Drug Policy Commission isn't that keen on it either. "Has the war on drugs been lost?" the chairman asked. "I don't think in those terms at all," Dame Ruth Runciman said. Or was it Roger Howard? "We don't think we've had a war." Er, yes. I mean, no.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’  

Children's TV shows like Grange Hill used to connect us to the real world

Grace Dent
An Indian bookseller waits for customers at a roadside stall on World Book and Copyright Day in Mumbai  

Novel translation lets us know what is really happening in the world

Boyd Tonkin
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine