Uruguayan President Jose Mujica say he believes the time has come for both the United States and Europe to reconsider their approach to the war on drugs and get serious about implementing a regulatory system on marijuana.
During a recent interview with Reuters, the 78-year-old Nobel Prize nominee who legalized marijuana last year in Uruguay, said that prohibition is an ineffective method for controlling illegal drug trafficking, especially in the two largest economies in the world, which are essential territories for illegal narcotics to continue to thrive.
"The industrial societies are the ones that have to change," he said. "For a small country, it's possible to experiment with this, but it's also very possible for a developed country because of the resources it has."
Ever since Uruguay’s parliament approved a measure in December to legalize marijuana -- selling it for $1 a gram -- other countries are watching closely to perhaps identify potential changes to their current anti-drug policies and implement similar systems.
"There are big markets, they have great buying power, and that is a big economic attraction. Until things change there, it will be very difficult to change elsewhere," said Mujica, adding that legalization and even decriminalization efforts in the United States signifies an “undeniable evolution” in opinions.
While marijuana is now legal in Colorado and Washington, it remains classified a Schedule I dangerous substance in the eyes of the federal government.
"Any North American state is more important than Uruguay, in dimensions, in its economic force," he said. "But it's still a bit like a lady embarrassed to admit her natural sins and lying to herself. What we are doing is much more open."
One thing is certain; the world will be watching when Uruguay’s new marijuana law takes effect in April. The country does not intend to promote a tourist trade like those seen in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. Instead, the laws are designed to cater to its citizens; allowing them to grow up to six plants per year, as well as give them the freedom to purchase 1.4 ounces a month from state licensed pharmacies.
Mujica insists that regardless of these efforts, illicit sales will continue, but the law should apply a gradual stranglehold. "The consumer will be able to go to the black market. It is bound to keep on existing, but the attack on the black market will be via the market itself, it will affect it," he said.
There are no guarantees the new system will work, he said, but Uruguay was faced with the opportunity to be the one country in the world brave enough to try it. "We are trying to invent a path, picking up experiences as we go. There are people who say that you can't experiment. ... That condemns you to failure."
Mike Adams writes for stoners and smut enthusiasts in HIGH TIMES, Playboy’s The Smoking Jacket and Hustler Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @adamssoup and on Facebook/mikeadams73.