News / Americas

Uruguay Set to Legalize Marijuana Trade

Marcelo Vazquez, a marijuana grower, checks the leaves of his marijuana plants for fungus, on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Dec. 9, 2013.
Marcelo Vazquez, a marijuana grower, checks the leaves of his marijuana plants for fungus, on the outskirts of Montevideo, Uruguay, Dec. 9, 2013.

Uruguay's Senate is expected to pass a law on Tuesday making the South American country the world's first to legalize the production and sale of marijuana under state control.

Congress' lower house already approved the pioneering bill, which is easily expected to pass the Senate because the ruling coalition controls both chambers.

It will authorize the production, distribution and sale of cannabis, allow individuals to grow their own on a small scale, and provide for clubs of consumers - all under state supervision and control.

The law is an initiative of President Jose Mujica, a 78-year-old former leftist guerrilla who acknowledges the approach is an experiment, says he personally hates pot and has never smoked it.

Ethan Nadelmann is executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, a leading sponsor of drug policy reform. He told VOA Uruguay's move is "a truly historic moment."

"It's the first country in the world to move forward with legally regulating marijuana as opposed to persisting with the failed prohibitionist policies of the past. Washington and Colorado last year became the first two political jurisdictions in the world to vote to legalize marijuana," he said. "Uruguay now becomes the first nation-state to do so."

Uruguay's attempt to undo drug trafficking is being followed closely in Latin America where the legalization of some narcotics is being increasingly seen by regional leaders as a possible way to end the violence spawned by the cocaine trade.

"What you see more broadly around Latin America is a growing discontent with the global war on drugs and with the aggressive U.S. posture," he said.

The use of marijuana is legal in Uruguay but cultivation and sale of the drug are not.

Other countries have decriminalized marijuana possession and the Netherlands allows its sale in coffee shops, but Uruguay will be the first nation to legalize the whole chain from growing the plant to buying and selling its leaves.

Several countries such as Canada, the Netherlands and Israel have legal programs for growing medical cannabis but do not allow cultivation of marijuana for recreational use.

Polls show two-thirds of Uruguayans oppose the plan, which faces fierce opposition from conservatives.

Critics say legalization will increase consumption and open the door to harder drugs, but Mujica said his government's goal is to combat organized crime and reduce drug use.

The bill gives authorities 120 days to set up a drug control board that will regulate cultivation standards, fix the price and monitor consumption limits, such as the 40 grams a month any adult will be able to buy from pharmacies.


Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Canadian Authorities Seek More Power to Thwart Terror Suspects

Canada's PM Harper he'll press for speedy OK to track terror suspects abroad, and to detain people in the country suspected of plotting attacks
More

Brazilians Set to Choose New President

President Dilma Rousseff and Senator Aecio Neves face each other in weekend runoff
More

FARC Rebel Gets 27 Years in US Prison for Hostage-Taking

Alexander Beltran Herrera responsible for kidnapping three Americans whose plane crash-landed in Colombia
More

Canadian Shooter's Mother ‘Mad’ at Son

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau's mother, Susan told the Associated Press part of her 'wants to hate' her estranged son, who killed a soldier in Ottawa
More

Canadian Couple Accused of Spying in China Held in Near Isolation

Treatment of the couple, who are being held without charge at a remote facility in the border city of Dandong, has seriously strained China's ties with Canada
More

Mexico Governor Resigns After Student Disappearances

Students from a rural teachers training college went missing after a confrontation with police in the town of Iguala on September 26
More