As far as most parents are concerned, marijuana is exactly the kind of thing they’d prefer not to see make an appearance in their kids’ lives. The very notion of kids doing drugs of any kind doesn’t tend to sit well with most parents – even in an era where the drug of choice for the masses is slowly but surely becoming decriminalised globally.
In the minds of anti-drug campaigners worldwide, marijuana use among the youth can and will only ever lead to debauchery, disaster and the downfall of society. But at the same time, there are those who firmly believe that a more realistic and liberal attitude to cannabis represents the only sensible and educated way forward.
One notable example being none other than Richard Branson, who firmly believes that rather than chastising or judging kids, parents would be well-advised to smoke marijuana with their children. Perhaps not habitually, but in terms of trying out cannabis for the first time, he sees blazing a joint with your own children as a lesser evil than that of allowing them to go out and get baked on their own in an unsupervised setting.
Branson made his remarks at the Sage Summit at McCormick Place in Chicago during his keynote speech. Clearly coming as quite the surprise to most of the business-hopefuls in attendance, the Virgin Group boss stated in no uncertain terms that in his opinion, it would be safer and healthier for parents to get stoned with their kids. The alternative being to put their kids in a position where they need to lie about smoking pot, keep it secret and go do it in a potentially unsafe environment.
“If they’re going to have a joint, do it with them,” Branson said.
“Don’t let them sneak off and do it on their own.”
Unsurprisingly, the audience didn’t really know what to make of the advice by Branson and responded with the kind of awkward laughter that’s standard in such instances. However, he went on to make it as clear as possible that he wasn’t kidding. And not only that he wasn’t kidding, but that his comments were grounded in both solid education and personal experience, having spent plenty of time working with the Global Commission on Drugs and personally having accepted the fact that drugs are not a criminal issue, but one more closely linked to health and education.
A Proactive Perspective
Owner of a global business empire and his own Caribbean island, Branson is a firm believer that the criminalisation of drugs – any drugs across the board – is 100% counterproductive. He even took the bold move of leaking a UN Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) statement, in which leading experts pleaded with global superpowers to immediately and permanently decriminalise drug possession in all its forms.
“My colleagues on the Global Commission on Drug Policy and I could not be more delighted, as I have stated in embargoed interviews for the likes of the BBC,” Branson wrote.
“Together with countless other tireless advocates, I’ve for years argued that we should treat drug use as a health issue, not as a crime. While the vast majority of recreational drug users never experience any problems, people who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell.”
Interestingly, the leaking of the document prompted the folks at UNODC to make an almost immediate and total backtrack on the suggestions it laid out – summarily leading to the whole matter being swept under the rug and forgotten about. As such, he doesn’t expect his comments on parents smoking pot with their kids to be taken particularly seriously – even though he made it clear he couldn’t have been more serious on the issue.