¡Viva Uruguay! The Latin American country has taken the pole position in marijuana legalization. Late last Wednesday night, Uruguay lawmakers voted 50-46 in favor of a bill to legalize cannabis, paving the way for a nationwide drug policy overhaul.
The legislation will now go to the Senate, where it is expected to pass by a comfortable majority. Uruguay’s socially liberal President José Mujica, a former guerilla and supporter of legalization, has said he would sign the bill into law. President Mujica has argued that it is crucial to redirect police resources toward trafficking in other types of drugs and fighting crime.
The bill, which could be signed into law as early as this month, would allow home cultivation of six plants per household, and cooperatives would be permitted to grow up to 99 plants. Private companies would also be permitted to grow cannabis, but their harvests could only be sold to the government, which would in turn sell it through licensed pharmacies to Uruguayans registered in a federal cannabis program, at a maximum of 40 grams per month. The legislation would restrict legal purchases to residents of Uruguay in an effort to prevent marijuana tourism.
Supporters of legalization measures around the world are hopeful that the Uruguayan measure, along with the recent measures passed in Colorado and Washington State, will boost efforts to legalize marijuana in other countries. Let’s hope that policymakers are paying attention to the sea change.
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