Uruguay first country in the world to legalize and control marijuana?

The government of Uruguay announces a project of legalization of the sale of marijuana

June 20, 2012

The government of Uruguay announced yesterday that it will submit a proposal for the legalization of the sale of marijuana (possession and use of marijuana is already legal in Uruguay). The proposal was drafted by President José Mujica and his government and requires parliamentary debate before final approval. If adopted, Uruguay would become the first country in the world to establish a controlled marketplace for marijuana. The proposal already generated a vigorous debate on social networks.

The government of Uruguay announces a project of legalization of the sale of marijuanaAccording to the proposal, marijuana will be legally available under government control through a user registry and subject to quality control and traceability. Users will be limited to a maximum of 40 marijuana cigarettes per month. The price will be accessible but taxes will be levied to finance addiction treatment.

The government’s objective is to combat insecurity and violence by separating the markets of marijuana and hard drugs, mainly coca-paste, and avoiding that the marijuana user be exposed to coca paste through his supplier. Located on a transit to Europe via West Africa, Uruguay has – been plagued by an explosion of crime and violence attributed to the trafficking and use of coca paste, considered as a scourge by the authorities.

Coca paste is an inexpensive unrefined precursor of cocaine obtained by macerating the coca leaves in various solvents including paraffin, benzene, ether, and sulfuric acid. It still contains substantial amounts of these highly toxic solvents. Coca paste is smoked mixed with tobacco or marijuana and produces a very intense and short-lived high similar to crack cocaine. Coca paste is extremely addictive and may lead to hallucinations, paranoia, aggressiveness and psychosis. As a result of the establishment of new transiting routes through Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay to Europe via West Africa, the use of coca paste has been raising dramatically in these countries since 2005. The use of coca paste and cocaine may surpass the use of marijuana in Brazil. Coca paste is devastating street-children populations.

Often dubbed the Switzerland of Latin America, Uruguay is a tiny country of 3.3 million inhabitants located on the Atlantic coast on the Southern border of Brazil and separated from Argentina by the estuary of the Río de la Plata.

Uruguay president Jorge Batlle was the first head of state to recommend legalization in 2000 while still in office. Mujica signaled his openness to the legalization debate while on the campaign trial in 2009 and reiterated this position since in office. Uruguay has been debating cultivation of marijuana for personal use since 2011 and its imminent approval has been repeatedly announced, but has evaded legislators so far.

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Author: Jeffrey Dhywood

Jeffrey Dhywood is a European-born investigative writer, lecturer and public speaker, drug policy analyst, author of "World War D – The Case against prohibitionism, roadmap to controlled re-legalization" http://www.world-war-d.com/. Jeffrey Dhywood holds a degree in Mathematical logics (Model Theory). He lived 20 years in the US and is currently living in Latin America. He is also very familiar with Asia, which gives him a good grasp of the global dimension of the War on Drugs, and its global failure. His academic background and his direct experience allows him to bring common sense and sanity to an issue often mired in confusion, misconceptions and preconceptions.

12 thoughts on “Uruguay first country in the world to legalize and control marijuana?”

  1. @Fabio I’m from Holland (AKA The Netherlands), over here it’s not officially legal, but ‘tolerated’ to posess up to 5 marijuana plants or 5 grams of weed or hash (and smoke it). Recently the local government in the south of Holland introduced a so called wietpas (weed pass), that you have to posess to buy weed or hash. Therefor tourists can’t buy the stuff themselves anymore in that part of the country. And the officials plan on introducing this pass in the rest of the country… Peace from Amsterdam!

  2. Well good, maybe this will help the effort here in the US. A huge waste of money and resources that has been going on for years. Most of us are sick of seeing our tax dollars being wasted year after year and the only thing anyone gets out of it is richer, does none of us any good mostly harm and headaches.

  3. This is interesting and a good read. Also, its an eye opener for me and most people in Africa.
    I work with vulnerable and Most at risk youths on HIV/AIDS prevention, most of these people are drug users…they do not want access care due to criminalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs in Nigeria and Africa in general.
    I will like to follow up on this article by way of know and been updated on progress of the proposal to Uruguayan parliament.


  4. Good to see some countries are brave enough to move into a socially conscious and scientifically supported policy of harm reduction. Too long has the American war madness inflected so much damage. War on drugs is a failed policy. Let’s find a path that works better!

  5. This is a lie. What the government has suggested is to keep a record of consumers, and sell at a government fixed price (that will include taxes ) a maximum of X a month. At the same time, growing the plant will be illegal and many people will continue to be imprisoned for growing about 3 or 4 plants for their own consumption. They are spinning it to make it look as a campaign to end violence and to prevent the youth from using other drugs. Therefore the Bill includes a couple clauses on censorship which ban the media from showing “violent scenes” during primetime. This happens after footage of a cold blooded murder during a robbery at a pizza place was broadcast repeatedly by the local news stations. So this bill will make them more money, give them more control AND make unaware people happy. So, so sad.

    1. This is a step in the right direction, just like medical mj, as messy as it is, was a step in the right direction. It breaks a taboo, it challenges international laws, and it sets a precedent. Uruguay has also been debating for over 1 year about cultivation for personal use. If both measures are approved, this would be a major breakthrough, incremental, for sure, but breakthrough nonetheless, just like Proposition 215 on November 5, 1996, legalizing medical MJ in CA was a major breakthrough, will all of its imperfections and pitfalls.
      They are spinning it as a campaign to end violence to get enough political support for the proposal and because this country was once among the safest in the world and has growing problems of violence, largely due to narcotrafficking, because it is now on the transit routes to West Africa towards Europe.
      That’s the way things work in the real world. You can either get your hands dirty and accomplish things one step at a time, or waste your time shooting for the moon.
      What have you done lately for marijuana policy reform?
      FYI: Possession for personal use has always been legal in Uruguay.

    2. This is a lie. What the government has suggested is to keep a record of consumers, and sell at a government fixed price (that will include taxes ) a maximum of X a month. At the same time, growing the plant will be illegal and many people will continue to be imprisoned for growing about 3 or 4 plants for their own consumption. Yes this is true but remember this is a developing country with hardly any natural resources, the gov. needs some kind of revenue. Therefore, they have limited the amount with a fixed price under gov control. Maximum revenue. the problems of murder and underage addiction cannot be resolved without the legalization of marijuana

  6. I don’t think cocaine is all that bad. I think it’s not as bad as it is made to seem. However, legalizing marijuana is a good start. Most of the problems associated with recreational drugs are caused more by illegalization than anything else.

  7. This is great! I believe in personal freedom, but many people can not resist hard drugs like alcohol, cocaine, opiates, etc. Cannabis is NOT a hard drug, it’s not a drug at all, it’s a natural herb that can not harm anyone! Prohibition does more harm than good, watching the movie, St. Valentines Day Massacre proves that! A big BRAVO to Uruguay for having the common sense to dial down the “drug war” death & misery!

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