Richard Branson: Tea Party would benefit from using drugs

The film focused on the war on drugs and made the case that a new approach is warranted. In the documentary, former President Clinton acknowledged his drug-prevention policies didn't work. Those comments have sparked speculation about Hillary Clinton's stance on the issue if she launches a 2016 White House bid.

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The panelists included Branson, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), A.T. Wall of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections, Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance and Naya Arbiter of the Amity Foundation. The Hill moderated the discussion.

Panelists agreed that the politics have changed significantly over the last several decades, noting that the "war on drugs" is no longer used as a wedge issue.

A review of the Congressional Record showed that the use of the "war on drugs" phrase has faded in recent years. In 1989 and 1990, members used it 819 times. This year, it has been used only three times.

The U.S. spends $51 billion on the war on drugs and 1.53 million people were arrested on nonviolent drug charges in 2011, according to the Drug Policy Alliance.

In a release, Whitehouse said, "As a former prosecutor, I'm keenly aware of the damage drugs cause in our communities, but I've also seen how common-sense reforms can benefit both drug offenders and their families."

"Breaking the Taboo" was narrated by Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman and was filmed in eight countries.

Branson, who has worked with former Vice President Gore on combating global warming, sits on the board of the Global Commission on Drug Policy.


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