Sir Richard Branson hosts live “War on Drugs” debate on Google+

Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson hosts the first ever live global debate on the War on Drugs: Versus Debate today on Google+ hangout at 7pm GMT/2pm EST. Link to the live debate on Google+ is here.

Participants will include: Julian Assange; Russell Brand and Misha Glenny; Geoffrey Robertson, Vincente Fox, Eliot Spitzer and many more.

On his blog Sir Richard Branson writes:

We’ve carried out two surveys in the last two weeks, one where we asked Twitter, Facebook and Google+ users globally whether they thought the war on drugs had failed, and one UK-specific survey through YouGov.

In the global online poll, 91% agreed that the war on drugs has failed. Over 90% also thought that providing treatment for addiction would be a better approach than putting people in jail.

Meanwhile, over 95% of 12,090 people surveyed online globally think governments should open the debate to look for other ways then jail to solve the drugs issue.

More than 81% of people surveyed globally also agreed that drug use would decrease if governments focused on treatment and stopped putting people in jail for minor drug offences.

We decided to ask the British public the same questions, and their opinion backed the global results we collected, which show they agree that drug problems should be treated as a health issue, not a criminal one.

Over two thirds of people in Britain also agree the war on drugs has failed. Upwards of 70% of respondents believe the government should debate methods other than jail to solve the drugs issue.

YouGov’s survey also takes into account political persuasion, and found agreement that the war on drugs has failed is strong across supporters of all three major UK political parties.

While lower than the global result, 56% of 1,801 adults surveyed by YouGov are in agreement that offering treatment rather than jailing drug users is a better approach.

We ask governments around the world to study the evidence and look at the harm being done to society today by outdated drug laws. As the Global Drug Commission has said, the war on drugs has failed and governments and states worldwide should experiment with new approaches.

We must learn from countries such as Portugal, Germany and Switzerland that are taking a brave lead in trying new ways to treat the drug problem as a health issue. Politicians must be equally brave and listen to the people who, as the surveys show, want them to find a new way.

UPDATE:

Apparently the debate on Google+ hangout is off but you can watch the Versus debate on Youtube.

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