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Richard Branson Investigates Benefits of Colorado Cannabis Taxes

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English business magnate and corporate mogul Richard Branson requested a tour of a non-disclosed substance abuse facility in Colorado last week, so that he could witness first-hand how Colorado is spending some of its cannabis-derived taxes, Ricardo Baca reports for The Cannabist.

Branson was in Colorado last week to celebrate the launch of his Virgin America airline’s services in Denver. Before leaving the land of legal marijuana, however, the self-made billionaire decided check in with some of the state’s top pot officials and industry professionals.

“There was never a blanket statement of why he was there, but we do know that Mr. Branson is interested in drug reform policy that prioritizes treatment over criminal penalties,” Robert Thompson, public information officer for the Colorado Department of Human Services, told The Cannabist.

“He wanted to learn about how things are going in Colorado with the legalization of marijuana, how things were going with collecting taxes and distributing taxes, and looking at the programs that benefit from marijuana tax dollars, including the one he toured,” Thompson said.

Branson has long been a vocal advocate for international drug policy reform, and serves on the Honorary Board for the Drug Policy Alliance.

In a blog post from 2015, he wrote that “Drugs should be treated as a health issue … so that the millions who continue to be harmed by current policies can be helped instead.”

In a 2012 op-ed for CNN, he wrote, “Rather than continuing on the disastrous path of the war on drugs, we need to look at what works and what doesn’t in terms of real evidence and data.”