President Jose Mujica said at the time: “We’ll have to regulate farm production so there’s no contraband and regulate distribution.”
“We must make sure we don’t affect neighbouring countries or be accused of being an international drug production centre.”
His government intends to send a legalization bill to Congress citing the necessity to take measures to fight crime in the country.
“It’s a profound change in approach,” said Sebastián Sabini, one of the lawmakers working on the contentious proposal unveiled by the President last month.
He continued: “We want to separate the market: users from traffickers, marijuana from other drugs like heroin.”
The government advocates the President suggesting that marijuana sales should be legalized worldwide.
Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro predicted that the move would discourage the use of so-called hard drugs. Marijuana consumption is already legal in Uruguay.
“We want to fight against two different things: one is drug consumption and the other is drug trafficking. We think the ban on certain drugs is creating more problems in society than the drug itself,” the minister told a news conference.
“Homicides related to settling scores have increased and that’s a clear sign that certain phenomena are appearing in Uruguay that didn’t exist before,” he added.
The bill is aimed to legalize and set rules for the production and sale of marijuana but it would not allow people to grow the plant for their own personal use, reports Weed.
However, officials gave no details on how the new system would work. In Uruguay about million changes hands each year in the illegal marijuana trade, according to official estimates.
Currently the country’s legislation doesn’t include a law against marihuana use or possession, though its commercialization is forbidden.
Rodrigo Filpo, 28, Montevideo resident, said it is fairly common to see Uruguayans smoking marihuana in public.
Argentina Independent reveals that “state authorised networks, including businesses and marihuana-associated clubs, will sell and distribute the drug.”
Uruguayan citizens 18 years of age or older will be allowed to purchase a maximum of 30 grams (40 marihuana cigarettes) per month.
“Profits from a sales tax will be directed toward drug rehabilitation services for users who exceed the monthly cap,” the paper reports.
Self-cultivation is not included in the bill, and previous attempts to legalise it have not passed through Congress.
The move will Uruguay the world’s first marijuana republic. The Netherlands has officially ignored the plant sales and use since 1976, while Portugal abolished all criminal penalties for drug use in 2001.
Thus, in the country a state-run industry would be born, created by government bureaucrats convinced that opposition to marijuana is simply outdated, writes The New York Times.
“In 1961, television was just black and white,” said Julio Calzada, secretary general of Uruguay’s National Committee on Drugs. “Now we have the Internet.”
Mujica’s proposal is not unique for Uruguay, famous for its progressive policies. The South American country was the first one to legalise divorce, grant women the right to vote and recognise the rights of trade unions.