Sir Richard Branson suggests New Zealand farmers swap cows for marijuana

Josie Cox
Sir Richard Branson has in the past spoken out vocally against the war on drugs: Getty Images
Sir Richard Branson has in the past spoken out vocally against the war on drugs: Getty Images

Billionaire businessman Richard Branson has urged kiwi farmers to swap cows for cannabis.

Speaking to New Zealand broadcaster Newshub during a recent trip to the country, Mr Branson said that he sees a significant business opportunity for the country’s dairy farmers in marijuana.

"You should legalise it, grow it, tax it, regulate it," he said.

"I think that would be wonderful because obviously the amount of dairy cows that New Zealand has is damaging the rivers,” he added. “If you could put some of that land over into growing cannabis would be just as profitable for them, if not more profitable.”

According to the website of the country’s police department, cannabis is one of the most widely available illicit drugs in New Zealand.

Police say that they are committed to reducing the demand for it and disrupting the supply chain, and that penalties associated with it range from a $NZ500 fine for possession to a 14-year jail term for its supply or manufacture.

But Sir Richard is known for his innovative and adventurous approach to business and his support for budding entrepreneurs. And he has also in the past spoken out vocally against the war on drugs.

“Communities around the world have been ravaged by decades of a brutal, repressive and completely ineffective war on drugs,” the Virgin founder wrote in a blog post last March.

“The consequences of these strategies include soaring violence, overcrowded prisons, and pervasive corruption. Presented as an investment in a better future, the war on drugs has been an epic, costly failure,” he said, adding that “we need a new course of action.”

He is a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group of international politicians and experts whose aim it is to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.

In a separate blog post in April, commenting on the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on drug policy, Sir Richard vowed to redouble efforts to “support societies around the world to positively recalibrate drug policy”.

During his trip to New Zealand, Sir Richard also met Prime Minister Bill English and the country’s former Prime Minister John Key, according to his blog.