Fact 004: Uruguay, In 2013, Became The First Country To Legalize The Trade Of Marijuana
Uruguay became the first country to make it legal to grow, sell and smoke marijuana. A bill sponsored by the government endorsed by 16-13 Senate votes provide the regulation of the distribution, consumption and cultivation of marijuana – with the aim of obtaining the business from criminals in Uruguay.
Law backers, some joints for smoking, came together near the Congress with green balloons, Jamaican flags showing respect to Bob Marley and a phrase saying: “Cultivating freedom, Uruguay grows” in their hands.
Consumers of cannabis will be able to purchase a maximum of 1.4 ounces (40 grams) every month from pharmacies with license – as long as the buyers are Uruguayan citizens above 18 years old and are also registered on the government database which will keep track of their purchases every month.
After the law was implemented, Uruguayans could grow up to 6 marijuana plants in their houses per year, or a maximum of 17 ounces (480 grams), and establish smoking clubs of 15-45 members which can grow as much as 99 plants yearly.
Registered drug users can now start purchasing marijuana over the counter from pharmacies with license. Back in 2013, Senator Lucia Topolansky, Uruguay’s first lady, told Reuters, “We begin a new experience in April. It involves a big cultural change that focuses on public health and the fight against drug trafficking.”
The attempt to suppress trafficking of drugs in Uruguay was being monitored closely in Latin America where some narcotics were being legalized and increasingly seen by the leaders as a mean of ending the violence caused by trading of cocaine.
Rich countries that were debating the legalization of marijuana are also monitoring the bill, that philanthropist George Soros termed as an ‘experiment’ which will serve as an alternative to the policies of U.S.
The bill gave authorities about 120 days to come up with a drug control board which will stand as a standard to regulate the cultivation, name the price and follow up the consumption.
Some other countries have legalized the possession of marijuana and the Netherlands supports its sale in coffee shops, but Uruguay were the first nation to full legalize the entire chain from the plant growth to the selling and buying of its leaves.
Many other countries like the Netherlands, Israel and Canada have legalized the growing of medical cannabis but does not support the cultivation of marijuana for the purpose of recreation.
In 2012, the U.S. states of Washington and Colorado passed a bill which regulates and legalizes the use of marijuana for recreational purposes.
The leftist president of Uruguay then, Jose Mujica, defended his initiative as a big to control and tax a market which is already in existence but were run by criminals.
He said, “We’ve given this market as a gift to the drug traffickers and that is more destructive socially than the drug itself, because it rots the whole of society.”