By Barry Bard
Virgin Group founder and billionaire Sir Richard Branson wants to overgrow the world with cannabis. A longtime outspoken supporter of marijuana reform who has told the United Nations to end the war on drugs, Branson’s recent comments went in another direction.
On a recent trip to New Zealand, Branson told reporters that the nation would be well served by transforming its dairy cow farms into cannabis farms. Citing the damage to New Zealand’s environment and the potential in cannabis, Branson told New Zealand broadcaster Newshub:
“You should legalise it, grow it, tax it, regulate it.
“I think that would be wonderful because obviously the amount of dairy cows that New Zealand has is damaging the rivers. If you could put some of that land over into growing cannabis, [it] would be just as profitable for them, if not more profitable.”
New Zealand’s rivers and lakes have become ravaged by pollution, and the high volume of dairy cows in the nation produces a high volume of cow urine. That urine then produces nitrogen which finds its way into the country’s rivers and lakes.
Branson’s simple solution trades the cows for cannabis crops and sees profits soar. With cannabis an estimated $141.8 billion global market, the fiscal potential of growing marijuana is far more lucrative than raising dairy cows.
Of course, there’s an equally simple problem: cannabis remains illegal in New Zealand. While New Zealanders consume the ninth most cannabis per capita of any nation, cannabis has remained illegal since the Misuse of Drug Act circa 1975.
For cannabis to be grown in New Zealand, the nation would have to change its drug laws to allow marijuana cultivation. A 2016 poll found that 65% of New Zealanders believe cannabis should be decriminalised or legalised.
While Richard Branson isn’t a prime minister, he is one of the more powerful individuals on this planet. He’s also one of the most vocal and wealthy supporters of marijuana and ending the war on drugs.
When he’s not too busy kite-surfing with Barack Obama, Branson serves the Global Commission on Drug Policy where he preaches for drug harm reduction.