Colorado, Oregon, Washington or … Uruguay, who will be first?

1st legal MJ: Colorado, Oregon, Washington or … Uruguay?

Will 2012 be the year?

Drug policy reform is moving along in the world and 2012 might very well be the year when marijuana will become legal in some part of the world, more precisely, somewhere in the Americas.

1st legal MJ: Colorado, Oregon, Washington or … Uruguay?
Colorado, Oregon, Washington or … Uruguay?

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica is plugging along with his marijuana legalization initiative, crisscrossing his country and the airwaves with his message, calling for a broad dialog on the issue. “We must stop looking the other way: The major problem is not marijuana, it is drug trafficking.” The project is being debated in the parliament, but no date has been set for a vote. President Mujica received the support of various regional ex-presidents, with Cesar Gaviria of Colombia being his most vocal supporter, but was derided by ex-president Jorge Battle(of Uruguay), who on February 11, 2001, became the first head of state to call for drug legalization while still in office. Go figure. Any similarity with the Romneycare/Obamacare controversy is purely accidental of course.

Ex-presidents Rodrigo Borja of Ecuador, and Ricardo Lagos of Chile have joined the club of anti-prohibitionist ex-heads of states. Ricardo Lagos Weber, son of the ex-president, even presented a proposal for the legalization of auto-cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purpose to the Chilean parliament, a proposal that was squarely rejected by president Sebastián Piñera

In the US, all three marijuana legalization initiatives on state ballots are gathering support left and right (mostly left though), including state legislators, the local democratic party and the NAACP.

Polls give a widening edge to the Colorado initiative with support growing to 47-38, and strong backing by independents. Washington fares even better with 50-37 support. The more controversial Oregon initiative is not doing too good, with negative support at 43-46. . While Washington and Colorado are sitting on comfortable piles of cash, Oregon is broke and could use some help. You can pitch in at Oregon campaign donations

Put your money where your mouth is, support the marijuana legalization initiatives in all three states, Colorado, Oregon and Washington You can also spread the theme song for Colorado prop 64

Each of these initiatives has its strengths and weaknesses, and none of them is perfect, but they certainly are a big step in the right direction and deserve your support.


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" 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.

2 thoughts on “Colorado, Oregon, Washington or … Uruguay, who will be first?”

  1. I fully agree with your last paragraph, Jeffrey. There is a discussion to be had regarding the specifics of Uruguay’s initiative and in a broader context, of the impact such a model might have on other countries seeking for alternatives to current drugs policies. At this juncture, though, any chance of finding and implementing alternative policies will be wasted unless producing and distributing countries in Latin America receive a clear and unambiguous support from countries inside and outside the region. Talking of which:

    1. As a European citizen who looks in horror at the heinous consequences Prohibition and the so-called War on Drugs policies have had on drug producing and transit countries I cannot help but feel ashamed by the total lack of support shown so far by European countries for the call made by sitting Latin American presidents to engage in an open debate to find alternatives to current drugs policies. More on this here:

    2. I do wholeheartedly welcome Uruguay’s initiative. So far, it is the only country in Latin America that seems to understand that decriminalising the demand while keeping illegal the supply is the worst of both worlds for producing & transit countries. I have no doubt it is going to be a difficult and challenging journey, but I hope the same rational approach will be applied to all drugs, not just marihuana. More on this here:

    3. Talking of Uruguay, I have to say I’m rather disappointed by the reaction of the current president of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, to its proposal. Instead of criticising Uruguay, Mr Santos could have said: I support Uruguay but we need a regional response. So, let’s take this opportunity to unite around Uruguay and move the debate forward. How ironic, for in an interview he gave last year he said, and I quote: ’I would be crucified if I took the first step’ Well, I’m afraid it is you, Mr Santos, who are now trying to crucify Uruguay for taking the first step! More on this here:

    Gart Valenc
    Twitter: @gartvalenc

    1. Thank you Gart
      I read your links with interest and am definitively with you there.
      At the end of the day, the Uruguay initiative might have more of a symbolic value than anything else. It is doubtful that it will have much effect on the global drug trafficking and the War on Drugs. Still, someone needs to start. And yes, Santos has been a complete let-down recently, from his tepid response to Perez Molina to his rebuke of Mujica.
      MJ legalization in Uruguay is far from a done deal and is facing strong opposition, including from ex-pres Jorge Battle who, incidentally, in 2001 was the first sitting president to ask for legalization of all drugs!
      While it certainly benefits European countries and consuming countries in general, decriminalization will not solve Latin America’s problems and could even worsen them tremendously. Emerging countries in general and producing countries in particular fail to acknowledge that they have a rising substance abuse problem that already surpasses the West’s and decriminalization will just make it far worse. For producing countries, it is the worst of both worlds, a lose-lose proposition. Sooner or later, they will have to bite the bullet and regulate. The longer they wait, the worse it will get, the more entrenched cartels become (as in MX & central America) short of reinstating military dictatures to the entire region – which might very well be the hidden agenda.

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