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Some people, who are advocating that both the domestic and international rhino horn bans should be lifted, are making some sweeping and wildly inaccurate statements about Sir Richard Branson. The posts that are being made on social media like Facebook, contain comments such as:

– There is huge support for Sir Richard Branson who is advocating the legalization of drugs.

– That Branson has called for the failed prohibition wars to be shut down.

– That Branson has called on the UN to put pressure on governments to end the war on drugs.

Branson’s views about ending poaching are also criticized, with those calling for trade saying that he will not help to save rhino. The twisted statements about Branson are being used in propaganda posts and blogs to try and get support for getting both the domestic and international bans lifted and promoting the sale of rhino horn.

The facts:

Sir Richard Branson does not call for the legalization of drugs; he has called for the DECRIMINALISATION of drugs and rather than prosecuting drug users, providing help for them to kick the habit. He is saying PROVIDE HELP, he is certainly NOT asking for drug legalization. I quote:

“We must stop criminalising drug users. Health and treatment should be offered to drug users not prison. Bad drugs policies affect literally hundreds of thousands of individuals and communities across the world. We need to provide medical help to those that have problematic use not criminal retribution.”

So, Sir Richard Branson is asking that drug use be classified as a HEALTH issue so that users can get the help to kick the habit. In another blog he states: “In an as-yet unreleased statement circulated to the BBC, myself and others, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which has shaped much of global drug policy for decades, call on governments around the world to decriminalise drug use and possession for personal consumption for all drugs.”

Please note that his statements emphasize the following:

– stop criminalising drug USERS

– treatment should be offered to drug USERS

– provide medical help to those that have problematic USE

– decriminalise drug use and possession for PERSONAL consumption

In not one of his statements and blogs do his comments refer to drug dealers, criminal gangs or syndicates. These people still need to face the full wrath of the law.

Those who insist on comparing this to rhino horn use should apply the same standards in their arguments. Demand reduction programs should get earnest support so that consumers get educated about why they should NOT use rhino horn, i.e. they need to be “rehabilitated.” Sir Richard Branson is certainly involved with this. “On his first-ever visit to Vietnam, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson recently met with some of the nation’s top business leaders as part of our Stop Using Rhino Horn campaign, which seeks to counter myths of rhino horn’s medicinal benefits as well as to educate the Vietnamese public about the poaching crisis in Africa.” And while he was there: “During the event, business leaders signed a pledge in which they committed to never buy, use or gift rhino horn.”

Those who are involved in the illegal sale of rhino horn should face the full wrath of the law. The legislation and laws of many countries need to be revised urgently in terms of the prosecution of all those involved in rhino poaching. This is not going to happen as long as there are people advocating rhino horn trade.

Photo credit, WildAid and African Wildlife Foundation.  Click on image to read full article at