News / Americas

    Uruguay to Sell Marijuana Tax-free, Undercutting Drug Traffickers

    People look at marijuana smoking paraphernalia in a street market in downtown Montevideo, March 10, 2014.
    People look at marijuana smoking paraphernalia in a street market in downtown Montevideo, March 10, 2014.
    Reuters
    Uruguay will exempt marijuana production and sales from taxes in a bid to ensure prices remain low enough to undercut competition from black market pot smuggled in from Paraguay, according to consultants advising the government on a legalization plan.
     
    Congress approved a law allowing the cultivation and sale of marijuana in December, making Uruguay the first country to do so, with the aim of wresting the business from criminals.
     
    “The principal objective is not tax collection. Everything has to be geared toward undercutting the black market,” said Felix Abadi, a contractor who is developing Uruguay's marijuana tax structure. “So we have to make sure the price is low.”
     
    Uruguay will auction up to six licenses to produce cannabis legally in the next weeks. The government is also considering growing marijuana on a plot of land controlled by the military to avoid illegal trafficking of the crop.
     
    While cigarettes and alcoholic drinks are taxed heavily in Uruguay, the official marijuana trade will operate virtually tax-free, Abadi said. Uruguay does not require a decree or law to exempt a product from taxes.
     
    President Jose Mujica signed a decree outlining the fine print of the new policy this month. It said Uruguayans will be able to buy up to 10 grams of marijuana a week in pharmacies at between 85 cents and US$1 dollar a gram, a price comparable to black-market pot.
     
    An agricultural country of 3.3 million people, Uruguay has come under the spotlight for the marijuana law championed by Mujica, a 78-year-old former Marxist guerrilla whose modest lifestyle and philosophical musings have made him a media  darling abroad.
     
    Uruguay has gone further than other countries such as Argentina and Spain, which have decriminalized possession, or, like the Netherlands, which tolerates the sale of marijuana. The U.S. states of Washington and Colorado have legalized the sale of cannabis under license, but federal laws still prohibit sales.
     
    Colorado imposed heavy taxes on marijuana sales.
     
    Uruguay's experiment is being keenly watched by Latin American peers at a time when the U.S.-led war on drugs faces mounting criticism. Success in Uruguay could fuel momentum for legalization elsewhere.
     
    While relatively prosperous Uruguay has low crime rates, one-third of prisoners are behind bars on drug charges.

    You May Like

    US, Somalia Launch New Chapter in Relations

    US sends first ambassador to Somalia in 25 years; diplomatic presence and forces pulled out in 1993, after 18 US soldiers were killed when militiamen shot down military helicopter

    Brexit Vote Ripples Across South Asia

    Experts say exit is likely to have far-reaching economic, political and social implications for a region with deep historic ties to Britain

    Russian Military Tests Readiness With Snap Inspections

    Some observers see surprise drill as tit-for-tat response to NATO’s recent multinational military exercises in Baltic region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Laobai from: China PR
    May 19, 2014 8:55 PM
    So wise. The only way to beat the cartel and black market is to legalize and deregulate. That just shows that Paraguay wants equity for all not just profits for the government. That's why the US won't really legalize it because they know they can't make money from it if they do.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Testing Bamboo as Building Materiali
    X
    June 27, 2016 9:06 PM
    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapides’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    More Americas News

    US Media Scrutinize Wave of Chinese Migrants Illegally Crossing From Mexico

    Reports show US officials caught 663 Chinese nationals illegally crossing from Mexico into San Diego, California, from last October through May

    Mexican Women Victims of Rape, Torture When Arrested

    Amnesty International finds a majority of women arrested in Mexico are sexually abused and tortured in the hours following their arrest

    Cuban Hotel Becomes First to Operate Under US Brand

    Military-owned Gaviota 5th Avenue Hotel, close to Caribbean seafront, is one of two hotels Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide agreed to manage in multimillion-dollar deal with Cuba in March

    UNICEF Warns Disadvantaged Youth Face Death, Poverty

    UNICEF report calls for a fair chance for every child

    Poll: Nicaragua President Ortega Expected to Win Third Straight Term

    Poll shows 65 percent of those surveyed plan to vote for Daniel Ortega's leftist FSLN party, compared with just 13 percent for the entire opposition

    2016 Games Face Greater Challenges than Zika, Says Olympic Committee CEO

    Temperatures are low enough to keep mosquito at bay, Sidney Levy tells VOA; bigger challenges are security, transportation and water quality