News / Americas

Uruguay President Defends 'Cutting Edge' Pot Legalization Vote

FILE - Uruguay's President Jose Mujica speaks to journalists after laying flowers at a monument of his nation's hero Jose Gervasio Artigas Arnal in Havana, Cuba, July 25, 2013.
FILE - Uruguay's President Jose Mujica speaks to journalists after laying flowers at a monument of his nation's hero Jose Gervasio Artigas Arnal in Havana, Cuba, July 25, 2013.
Reuters
— Uruguay's leftist President Jose Mujica said his country would not become a haven for pot smokers the day after its lower chamber of Congress narrowly voted to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana.

The bill, which needs to pass the senate to become law, goes beyond the no penalization policy in the Netherlands and creates a government body to regulate legal sales and public smoking clubs and to monitor marijuana consumption for Uruguayans.

To avoid making the country a drug tourism destination, only Uruguayans would be allowed to use marijuana. The use of marijuana is already legal in the South American nation, but the sale and cultivation is not.

“No one should think implementing this law would create disorder or encourage consumption,” said Mujica, a former guerrilla fighter and strong supporter of the measure.

Marijuana grower and activist Juan Vaz checks marijuana plants in Montevideo, Uruguay, Aug. 9, 2012.Marijuana grower and activist Juan Vaz checks marijuana plants in Montevideo, Uruguay, Aug. 9, 2012.
x
Marijuana grower and activist Juan Vaz checks marijuana plants in Montevideo, Uruguay, Aug. 9, 2012.
Marijuana grower and activist Juan Vaz checks marijuana plants in Montevideo, Uruguay, Aug. 9, 2012.
Controlling the marijuana trade under strict guidelines would instead help undermine drug-smuggling gangs and fight petty crime, he told a local radio program on Thursday.

“No where in the world has repression yielded results,” he said. “We know we are embarking on a cutting edge experiment for the whole world.”

A recent poll showed 63 percent of Uruguayans oppose the measure. Critics say it would lure people to harder drugs and create problems for Latin American countries that have battled drug-related violence, like Colombia and Mexico.

The legislation would establish a National Cannabis Institute to control the drug's production and distribution, impose sanctions on rule-breakers and design educational policies to warn about the risks of marijuana use.

Households would be permitted to grow up to six plants, or as much as 480 grams (about 17 ounces) of marijuana per year under the measure.

Mujica, 78, said on Thursday he had never smoked pot.

“I'm old - I've had the vice of smoking [cigarettes] and a drink now and then but never in my life have I tried a joint,” he said.

“But I've realized it's the life of these youth - consumption is there on the corners and it's produced a clandestine market with ferocious rules. It's a monopoly of the mafia,” he added.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Time Almost Up for Argentina, US Bondholders in Debt Talks

South American nation has until end of Wednesday to either pay in full 'holdout' hedge funds, cut a deal or win a stay on court order that triggeered deadline
More

Football Star's Stepfather Kidnapped, Released

Lawyer for family of Argentina's Carlos Tevez said player's stepfather appeared to be unharmed
More

Video Young Migrants From Central America Risk Life and Limb to Get to US

For tens of thousands of young people trip north is fraught with hardship and danger
More

Mother of Slain Mexican Teen Sues US Border Patrol

Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez, 16, was in Nogales, Mexico on October 10, 2012, when US agent shot him through border fence from Arizona
More

Planning Post-2015 Development

UNDP official calls for investing in people
More

Magnitude 6.3 Quake hits Mexico, No Major Damages, Injuries

Earthquake hit southwest of Juan Rodriguez, in eastern Mexican state of Veracruz at a depth of 95 km (60 miles), the US Geological Survey says
More