Uruguay Makes Decisive Move towards Marihuana Legalization

By Dialogo
August 02, 2013

Uruguay made a significant move towards the legalization of marihuana on July 31, after Congress passed a bill that might turn Uruguay, pending Senate approval, into the first country to assume control of the whole production and sale process of cannabis worldwide.

The bill passed with 50 out of 96 votes, after nearly 14 hours of debate, with only the support of the leftist governing party, Frente Amplio (FA), which also holds the majority at the Senate.

The ballot was welcomed with a round of applause by over 100 supporters of the cannabis legalization who witnessed the session.

“It is the first step,” Martín Collazo told AFP, spokesman for “Responsible Regulation”, an organization that has promoted the project through public campaigns. “We are convinced that the model will work, and it will be beneficial for the population.”

A recent survey by Cifra showed that 63% of the population does not support the controversial project, promoted by José Mujica’s government, showing their apprehension about it.

Currently, marihuana consumption is punishable in Uruguay, but it is commercialized.

The bill launched in June 2012 with a series of measures to combat the increase of violence, and anticipates the State to take control and regulate its import, planting, cultivation, harvest, production, acquisition, storage, commercialization and distribution of cannabis and its derivatives.

After users are registered, they could buy up to 40 grams of cannabis per month in pharmacies, although cultivation at home and at membership clubs might also be possible.

The National Board of Narcotics (JND) estimates that about 22 tons of marihuana are commercialized in the country annually, which means an illegal business turning over between 30 to 40 million dollars.