Press Release  | 03/13/2012

Virgin Founder Sir Richard Branson and DPA Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann to Speak in Washington D.C. About Ending the Failed War on Drugs

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To Be Discussed: Legalization Debate in Latin America, Portugal’s Decriminalization Experience, Marijuana Legalization Ballot Initiatives in CO and WA, and the State of National Drug Policy Reform Efforts

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson will join Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Ethan Nadelmann to speak about the need for greater momentum and political debate to end the failed drug war this Thursday, March 15, at a forum organized by The Atlantic (600 New Hampshire Ave. NW, 8th Floor) from 9:15 to 10:30am.  Steve Clemons, Editor at Large of The Atlantic, will host the session and interview Branson and Nadelmann before opening to questions from the audience and media.

Interested media should RSVP to Lyndsay Polloway at The Atlantic at lpolloway [at] theatlantic [dot] com or call 202-266-7022.

In the past year, Branson has stepped out as a prominent supporter of drug policy reform. His involvement with the Global Commission on Drug Policy electrified the international media and brought a new level of attention to the growing movement to end the 40-year-old war on drugs. The Global Commission is comprised of Branson, former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Paul Volcker, the former heads of state of Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Mexico and Switzerland, and several other distinguished world leaders.

Thursday’s event comes at an especially timely moment, as the current presidents of Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Colombia are now calling for a serious dialogue about decriminalization, legalization and alternatives to the U.S.-backed war on drugs. When Vice President Biden visited the region last week, he made clear that the Obama administration firmly opposes legalization -- but also acknowledged, as President Obama had in early 2011, that the topic was a legitimate subject for discussion. Nadelmann recently returned from the region, where he met with business and governmental leaders at the highest levels.

The event also comes on the heels of the launch of the new Google+ debate program -- the first such event was called "It's time to end the war on drugs" and was viewed by millions of people on Tuesday. The event featured a statement by Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil and chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and a panel featuring Richard Branson, Russell Brand, Elliot Spitzer, Julian Assange, and several other eyebrow-raising participants. More at www.intelligencesquared.com/events/versus-drugs.

Last week evangelical leader Pat Robertson also made news when he reiterated his support for legalizing marijuana and publicly endorsed Washington and Colorado’s ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana. Nadelmann and the Drug Policy Alliance are also deeply involved in a broad variety of efforts to legally regulate marijuana, including the ballot initiatives in Washington and Colorado.

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper 202-669-6430

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