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Richard Branson: treat our drug users with compassion

By Claire Williamson

Drug users should be treated with compassion rather than criminalised, Sir Richard Branson has said, as he called for a rethink of current "repressive" policies on drugs.

The billionaire Virgin chief said the "war on drugs" had poured resources into jailing people and policing at the expense of education, vocational training and the treatment and rehabilitation of drug users.

He said he believed the law enforcement campaign against drugs had proved counter-productive and a new approach was needed.

"There has been now four decades of the so-called 'war on drugs' and this has done, I think, terrible things to societies everywhere. It has done damage to drug users, it has done damage to their families, it has done damage to their communities," he told the International Aids Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

Earlier the conference paid tibute to a number of senior delegates and experts on the disease due to attend who were killed while travelling to the summit on the downed Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine.

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