Branson Richard: North America’s Opioid Crisis Calls for “Pragmatism” Over “Ideology”

Sir Richard Branson, the astute billionaire and founder of the Virgin Group, is pleading for “pragmatism” over “ideology” in combating the scourge of North America – opioid addiction.

Branson, an entrepreneur and an advocate for social issues, is also a commissioner on the Global Commission on Drug Policy. A leader who employs more than 100,000 people and oversees the operation of more than 400 companies, Commissioner Richard is calling for sweeping policy reform in Canada and the United States.

A position paper by the 2017 Global Commission on Drug Policy titled “The Opioid Crisis in North America” encourages the decriminalization of illicit narcotics and the abolishment of all penalties – both civil and criminal – for individuals who use recreational drugs.

Branson and the commission have also called for “the elimination of illicit drug markets by carefully regulating different drugs according to their potential harms.”

The commission’s position paper noted, “the most effective way to reduce the extensive harms of the global drug prohibition regime and advance the goals of public health and safety is to get drugs under control through responsible legal regulation.”

As such, Branson and the commission have rolled out several policy recommendations:

  • Legally regulate the medical use of marijuana.
  • Stop the criminalization and incarceration of recreational drug users in Canada and the United States.
  • Eliminate and bypass criminal organizations by allowing pilot programs that create a legal regulation of currently illicit drugs.
  • Make proven harm reduction measures and treatment facilities widely available: Naloxone, low threshold opioid substitution therapy, heroin-assisted treatments, needle and syringe programs, and supervised injection facilities.
  • The de facto decriminalization of personal drug use at the municipal, city or state levels.
  • Increased research in critical areas including treatments for addiction to prescribed opioids and the psychological and socioeconomic links to opioid addiction.
  • Research the role played by fentanyl and its derivatives in opioid overdoses.
  • Defined by the 2017 Global Commission on Drug Policy, the “ad hoc Position Paper” underscores the fact that several studies have identified medical marijuana as an effectual substitute “for some opioid use.” And per the commission’s report, at least one study identified “states with medical marijuana access have 25% lower opioid addiction and overdose rates.”

65,000 Americans overdosed on opioids in 2016

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A beacon of hope for North America’s ostracized addicts, the report’s scientific notations identified another study that found doctors in medical marijuana states write 1,800 fewer opioid prescriptions annually. The commission’s suggested alternatives to combat North America’s destructive war on drugs would scale-back prejudicial law enforcement in communities of color and dramatically reduce America’s current overdose rate of 64,000 individuals annually.

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