On July 31st 2013 Uruguay’s lower house successfully passed a marijuana legalization bill. Setting Uruguay in position to become the first country that will legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.
All 50 members of the governing Broad Front coalition approved the proposal in a party line vote just before midnight Wednesday, keeping a narrow majority of the 96 lawmakers present after more than 13 hours of passionate debate.
The President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, has been on a mission to deal with the rise in illegal drug trade and trafficking which has plagued the region.
An Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis would be created, with the power to grant licenses for all aspects of a legal industry to produce marijuana for recreational, medicinal or industrial use.
The government will purchase marijuana from licensed growers and distribute it to pharmacies, while private citizens will be permitted to grow the plant for personal use.
Uruguay is now at the forefront of globally reforming our ever costly, and perpetually failing archaic drug policies. If this endeavor succeeds, Uruguay will become the first nation that will allow its citizens to legally grow and consume marijuana for non-medical purposes.
The movement started with people like myself who preferred to grow our own instead of exposing ourselves to the danger of buying from drug dealers
– Juan Vaz, head of AECU (the Uruguayan Cannabis Studies Association).
The bill originally proposed that the marijuana should be solely produced by the state. However, the version of the bill that was approved enables the government to establish an institution which will grant licenses to private growers. The production of those private growers is going to be sold only through pharmacies to registered users.
“The government will control the whole chain of production, with quality and price controls from the grower to the pharmacies,” says Sebastián Sabini, the young congressman who drafted the final bill. “The law will go into force once it is approved by the Senate in the next couple of months,”
This will be the first time that a country will legalize marijuana and allow for a legal regulatory system of growing and distribution of the product.
What Happens Next?
The fight isn’t over yet, despite the Uruguay’s president announcing plans to sell cannabis for $1 a gram, starting in 2014.
The bill still has to move through the Senate, but with a government majority in the upper and lower house it is expected to pass at some point in the fall.
Once passed, the legislation would make the small South American country the first in the world to completely legalize marijuana.
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has said he hopes the legislation will neutralize drug-smuggling gangs in his country, adding: “We know we are embarking on a cutting-edge experiment for the whole world.”
Not surprising, the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board condemned the success of the bill, and the movement of the government in Uruguay to legalize marijuana.
It’s Time To Reform Our Drug Policies
Uruguay has become another step in the right direction of reforming our failing stance and policies on drug use. Joining other successes such as Colorado and Washington, which were successful in legalizing marijuana for recreational use. After decades there has been billions of dollars spent on the war on drugs, and yet it has failed to achieve any of its goals.
Thankfully, it is becoming a more widely accepted and popular belief that individuals should be free to consume whatever they want to, as long as they are not harming any other person or another person’s property. A belief guided by the moral compass of individual liberty and non-aggression. Getting tougher on drug use has shown not to reduce recidivism or prevent drug use. Our drug policies are failing. Meanwhile more people are learning about the benefits of industrial hemp, and the consumption of marijuana.