Under a new plan, Uruguay could become the first country to sell marijuana to its citizens. The new plan, which attempts to combat the growing crime rate, would grant the government the ability to sell marijuana to adults who have registered on a government database, allowing officials to to keep track of marijuana purchases.
The country’s Minister of Defense Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro said that the plan aims to weaken crime by removing profits from drug dealers and preventing users from using harder drugs.
Huidobro said that the bill will be sent to Congress soon.
We’re shifting toward a stricter state control of the distribution and production of this drug.
It’s a fight on both fronts: against consumption and drug trafficking. We think the prohibition of some drugs is creating more problems to society than the drug itself.
According to Uruguayan newspapers, the money from taxes on marijuana sold by the government would go towards rehabilitating drug addicts.
There are no laws against marijuana possession or use at the criminal level in Uruguay.
One potential plan is that people who use more than a limited number of marijuana cigarettes would have to undergo drug rehabilitation. Some citizens expressed concern about the plan’s success.
“People who consume are not going to buy it from the state,’ said Natalia Pereira, 28, who smokes marijuana occasionally. “They’re going to be mistrust buying it from a place where you have to register and they can typecast you.”
Other people are talking about the plan on social media networks throughout the country. “Legalizing marijuana is not a security measure,” one man in the capital of Uruguay wrote on his Twitter account. “Ha, ha, ha!” said another. “I can now imagine you going down to the kiosk to buy bread, milk and a little box of marijuana.”
Juan Carlos Redin, a psychologist who works with drug addicts in the capital Montevideo, said: “The main argument for this is to keep addicts from dealing and reaching (crack-like) substances.”
Some studies conclude that a large number of base paste consumers first looked for milder drugs like marijuana and ended with freebase.
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said the move would make Uruguay the only national government in the world selling marijuana.
If they actually sell it themselves, and you have to go to the Uruguay government store to buy marijuana, then that would be a precedent for sure, but not so different than from the dispensaries in half the United States.
Several dispensaries in the US are allowed to sell marijuana for medical use.
Possession of marijuana for personal use has never been criminalized in Uruguay. A 1974 law gives judges discretion to determine if the amount of marijuana found on a suspect is for legal personal use or for illegal dealing.
“This measure should be accompanied by efforts to get young people off drugs,” Senator Monica Xavier told channel 12 local TV.
However, Guillermo Castro, head of psychiatry at the Hospital Britanico in Montevideo, does not support the plan because he believes that marijuana is a gateway to stronger drugs.
In the long-run, marijuana is still poison. If it’s going to be openly legalized, something that is now in the hands of politics, it’s important that they explain to people what it is and what it produces.
I think it would much more effective to educate people about drugs instead of legalizing them.
Still, the bill has many supporters.
“There’s a growing recognition in the region that marijuana needs to be treated differently than other drugs, because it’s a clear case that the drug laws have a greater negative impact than the use of the drug itself,” said Coletta Youngers, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.
If Uruguay moved in this direction they would be challenging the international drug control system.