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Uruguay legalizes sale and production of marijuana

Published time: December 11, 2013 00:37
Edited time: December 12, 2013 15:30

People celebrate after the Uruguayan senate approved a law legalizing marijuana in the Legislative Palace in Montevideo, on December 10, 2013. (AFP Photo/Miguel Rojo)

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Uruguay has become the first country in the world to legalize both the sale and production of marijuana. President Jose Mujica has championed the measure as a way of combatting the illegal drug industry that has decimated parts of Uruguay.

The country’s parliament passed the bill by a vote of 16 to 13 on Tuesday evening. Senator Alberto Couriel, a member of the ruling Broad Front left-wing coalition, called the passing of the bill "a historic day" for Uruguay.

Under the new legislation, the price of marijuana will be set at one dollar per gram, aiming to undercut the current price of $1.40 on the illegal market. The sale and production of the drug will be regulated by a specially-set-up government body which will administer a database of adult citizens registered to consume marijuana.

“This is an attempt to bring an end to the illegal drugs trade by identifying the market and bringing it into the light of day,” said President Mujica in a statement. Mujica added that the law does not promote the consumption of the drug; it merely identifies the consumer so that authorities may “intervene if [the consumer] overdoes it.”

Before the new legislation was passed, the consumption of marijuana in Uruguay was not penalized, but the sale and production of the drug was considered a criminal offense.

People march for the legalization of marijuana towards the Legislative Palace in Montevideo, on December 10, 2013, as the Senate discuss a law on the legalization of marijuana's cultivation and consumption. (AFP Photo/Pablo Porciuncula)

A number of conditions will govern the sale and production of the drug. Registered Uruguayans over the age of 18 will have the right to buy up to 40 grams of marijuana from pharmacies every month and cultivate a maximum of six plants on their property. The legislation will also allow for the creation of so-called cannabis clubs, composed of up to 45 members who will be able to grow a maximum of 100 plants.

Uruguayan Senator Lucia Topolansky (C) votes to approve a law legalizing marijuana in the Legislative Palace in Montevideo, on December 10, 2013 (AFP Photo/Miguel Rojo)

Uruguay’s National Drug Board estimates that there are around 120,000 marijuana users in Uruguay from a population of 3.3 million. Consumer groups estimate a higher figure, putting the number of users at around 200,000.

The bill has triggered debate in Latin America over the issue of the illegal drugs trade and the problems it creates.

“I think it is unrealistic,” Paraguay's National Anti-drug Minister, Luis Rojas, told Spanish news agency Efe earlier this year. Despite the new law, Rojas said he believes Uruguay will continue to receive marijuana grown in Paraguay.

Moreover, president of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, Eduardo Alves, said that Brazil was not ready for the legalization of marijuana in neighboring Uruguay. According to police figures, around 80 percent of the marijuana cultivated in Paraguay is exported to Brazil where it feeds the illegal drug trade. Brazil is concerned that the legalization of the drug could lead to a similar system in Uruguay.

Comments (50)


Jonathan Peterson 15.12.2013 09:52

Truth. We humans are unable to comprehend that drug laws make slaves of every citizen that is why drug laws violate citizen equality. Doctors/pharmacies have an illegal monopoly, but because that monopoly is deeply ingrained in status quo; we citizens are made into sheep by our human instinct program doing its job to protect our survival. Our beliefs that drug laws make us safer are not based in fact. Facts show what prohibition causes; criminal enterprise and oppression through loss of freedom and liberty over citizen rights to self medicate and worse created a master/slave groups enforced by unfair unjust law


Danny Hunt 13.12.2013 21:19

Yeah, Paraguay is worried. A country infested with USA types such as the Bush family.


Danny Hunt 13.12.2013 21:17

[quote name='willam' time='11.12.2013 23:09']Countries around Uruguay should be consign, as it can be grown by any one in Uruguay and then exported to the neighbouring countries were marijuana isn't legalised and more profitable.
[/qu ote]

No. The amount of plants grown is restricted for individuals so there should not be a new availability from Uraguay. Nor, are individuals allowed to sell their marijuana. Also, the purchace of marijuana is limited to only a few grams.

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