Richard Branson is one of the most exuberant and successful entrepreneurs of our time. He is currently, the UK’s eighth richest person who is putting his support behind the marijuana industry.

Branson gave the keynote address at the New West Summit in San Francisco over the weekend, and in attendance were thousands of medicinal marijuana patients, investors, and “potrepreneurs” gathered to debate the future of marijuana. The 66-year-old Virgin Group founder, who called in via Skype, did not mince words.

When the question was brought up about what information he would give to the industry’s pioneers who are leading the fight for legalization, Branson clearly stated, “My main motto in life is, ‘screw it, just do it.'”

It was the first time Branson spoke so openly about marijuana. For the last five years, however, the serial entrepreneur has been a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a 22-person panel of world leaders and intellectuals that advocates for an end to the war on drugs.

The group calls for the decriminalization of all drugs, and believes regulating drugs — rather than “leaving it up to the underworld,” Branson says — places a greater emphasis on public health and protects the safety of communities around the globe.

During his speech, which Branson delivered while drinking a cup of English tea from his home on Necker Island, Branson gave the example of Portugal’s revolutionary drug policy. In 2001, the small European country decriminalized marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other illicit substances to shift government efforts from locking addicts up to providing treatment.

Drug-related HIV infections fell over 90% since 2001, while the number of people in drug-treatment increased 60% from 1998 to 2011. The results were astounding.

Branson called the move “a lot more effective than sending you to prison.”

The business maverick did not rule out a future career in marijuana.

” If I was not part of the global drug commission, I certainly would be out there in this industry,” Branson said. “It’s an industry with enormous potential, and it can do a lot of good.”

He ended by saying, “I’m going to go have a spliff, I think.”


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