When it comes to cannabis legalisation, the simple fact of the matter is that famous people in any position shouldn’t have any influence over the way the public votes. The reason being that it should all come down to the facts only – as in what we know about cannabis, as opposed to speculation. In reality, however, this just doesn’t tend to be the case at all. If you’re famous, you can influence public opinion one way or the other – often in accordance with how much you’re paid. And when it comes to a subject as controversial as cannabis, it’s rare to find famous faces willing to speak in favour of the stuff.
But there is one ultra-influential figure the pro-pot camp can always rely on – that being Sir Richard Branson. The billionaire founder of the Virgin Group has spent quite a number of years now pushing for more liberal and sensible cannabis legislation on a global basis, alongside 15 former world leaders and former United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan on the Global Commission on Drug Policy. He’s spoken repeatedly of decriminalisation being the only way forward for global weed policy, insisting that the time has come to throw dated, archaic and baseless assumptions out of the window…for good.
Just last week, Branson appeared via Skype video call at a major cannabis conference in San Francisco. He spoke openly about the fact that he could murder “a spliff or two”, challenging anti-cannabis campaigners to come up with a single cogent argument as to “why not?” As in why, with such overwhelmingly positive scientific evidence, should cannabis continue to be considered a dangerous drug?
He spoke at “The future of Cannabis, Now” conference in San Francisco, where he once again reaffirmed his stance firmly against criminalisation of cannabis.
"That's the only way of sorting out the problems that come with drugs by not regulating and leaving it up to the underworld to supply drugs," he told the crowd in attendance.
"Our commission has worked really quite hard on that. We've had some successes and some massive failures, we're going to keep going until we get governments to see otherwise."
New Tech, New Business Opportunities
The primary focus of the event was the way in which emerging technologies have the potential to help the already-booming weed business reach untold peaks in the US. Billions of dollars are already being generated annually by the legal weed business, though the country as a whole has really just begun scratching the surface.
When cannabis is legalised across multiple additional states, which seems more than likely, the industry could immediately double, triple or even quadruple in size. One marketing executive for WeedWeek, Adrienne Nascimento, stated that the significance of Branson repeatedly adding his name to those campaigning for new cannabis policy couldn’t be overlooked.
Major names in technology have been hesitant to throw their support behind the fledgling weed industry, for the simple (if inexplicable reason) that it remains illegal at a federal level. However, Microsoft set an example for others to follow earlier this year, by to a certain extent at least making it clear that it would be working with companies and developers associated with the cannabis industry.
The event featured demonstrations of various new technologies, including a computer algorithm designed to help cultivators produce the biggest possible yields from every crop. Others are focusing more on the administrative side of cannabis production and retail, including systems that can be used to track any cannabis product right back to its origins.