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Uruguay Becomes the First Country to Legalize Marijuana Trade
In a narrow win in its Senate this week, the South American country of Uruguay became the first nation in the world to legalize marijuana. The motive to legalize marijuana, as expressed by Uruguay’s president, Jose Mujica, is to take away marijuana trading from the hands of drug cartels and drug traffickers and provide safe access to marijuana users.
At the same time, Mujica argued, the move would save government an estimated annual expense of $80 million a year spent fighting drug traffickers. It would also bring tax money into the coffers of an impoverished nation, and enable marijuana users with safe access to the drug.
The controversial measure won by a margin of 16-13 in the Uruguay Senate. Brazil, which is a neighboring country of Uruguay has expressed concerns over the measure and sent a delegation last month to Uruguay to talk Mujica out of the proposal. However, the 78-year-old former guerilla wasn’t to be dissuaded.
The new law in Uruguay will create a state-regulated marijuana market where the government would set the prices. Pharmacies will be able to sell up to 40 grams of marijuana a month to registered users. Purchasers have to be above 18 years of age and residents of Uruguay.
Mujica has also legalized gay marriage and made other moves that many see as controversial. He told the Uruguayan television over the issue of legalizing marijuana – “You have to have a bit of courage and audacity and look for new paths.”
Commenting on the development, Tom Angell, chairman of federal policies at the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project said, “Uruguay’s move today is a pretty clear signal that the global war on marijuana is ending. Next year more U.S. states are likely to vote on legalization, and leaders of other countries in Latin America are talking about the need for a new approach.”Uruguay Becomes the First Country to Legalize Marijuana Trade by Scott