Sir Richard Branson, the progressive billionaire businessman and philanthropist, is recommending that New Zealand cultivate cannabis instead of cows.
Cannabis, illegal but sort of tolerated, is one of the most widely available illicit drugs in the country, according to the New Zealand Police.
Branson, who was in New Zealand speaking at a charity event, predicted cannabis would be as acceptable as wine in 10 years’ time.
Calling the War on Drugs an absolute failure, Branson urged New Zealand to legalize, grow, tax and regulate cannabis.
“We’ve done a lot of studies on the War on Drugs, and it’s been an abject failure. And what is absolutely clear to us is that drugs should be decriminalized, and people who have drug problems should be helped,” Branson told Newshub.
But, What About The Cows?
Livestock production—which includes meat, milk and eggs—contributes 40 percent of global agricultural gross domestic product, provides income for more than 1.3 billion people and uses one-third of the world’s fresh water.
That being the case, consider a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization, which estimated that livestock were responsible for about 18 percent of human-caused greenhouse gases—a figure that has been criticized by the meat industry as too high and by some environmentalists as way too low.
Branson comes down on the less livestock side of the argument and more green fields of cannabis.
“I think that would be wonderful because obviously the amount of dairy cows that New Zealand has is damaging the rivers, if you could put some of that land over into growing cannabis would be just as profitable for them, if not more profitable,” he said.
New Zealand’s Federated Farmers seem to agree. Newshub reported that the federation would look at cultivating cannabis, if it was legal and profitable.
And that is saying something considering that New Zealand is one of the world’s most efficient agricultural economies, in addition to being the largest dairy and sheep meat exporter in the world.
We, here in the United States, might also think about trading cows for cannabis.
According to data from Rabobank, a Dutch bank that focuses on the agricultural industry, the average American increased their annual meat intake from 184 pounds of beef, pork and/or chicken in 2012 to 193 pounds in 2015.
If the current trends continue, Rabobank projects that by 2018, meat consumption will reach a record high of more than 200 pounds a year per capita.
Maybe we could strike a happy medium? Less cows and more cannabis.