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Richard Branson Targets Australia's Prime Minister on Drug Decriminalization

Sir Richard Branson
Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, speaks at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City Sept. 28, 2015.

Outspoken entrepreneur Richard Branson has another quarrel on his mind these days: drug decriminalization in Australia.

The debate on how law enforcement officials should tackle this matter was recently elevated following two drug-related fatalities at roving dance music festival Stereosonic. Both deaths have been blamed on the use of Ecstasy, or MDMA.

Second Death Hits Stereosonic Fest, Calls for Pill Testing Intensifies

Independent senator Nick Xenophon compares the use of these pills to a "chemical form of Russian roulette." The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Branson has turned to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with a personal submission last month to the federal government’s National Ice Taskforce, saying, "Drug use should be treated as a health issue, not as a crime…people who struggle with drug addiction deserve access to treatment, not a prison cell."

Woman Dies From Suspected Overdose at Stereosonic Festival

He classifies their current legal strategy as "counterproductive drug-law enforcement." This is not the first time the British tycoon has vocalized himself on the matter, however. In a blog post on Virgin Group, his company’s website, he congratulates Portugal on the success of their drug policies. In 2001, the Portuguese government decided to decriminalize drugs in the country.

While it is unknown if Branson’s petition to the Prime Minister jostled any sort of legislative decision, Turnbull announced on Dec. 5 that the federal government will pledge nearly $300 million to the drug-treatment sector.

h/t: Mixmag

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