What Legalizing Pot In Uruguay Means For the World

This small Latin American country is now on the forefront of global drug policy reform

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Late Wednesday night, following months of intensive debate and negotiation, the Uruguayan House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize marijuana.  If approved by the Senate, President José Mujica will certainly sign it, at which point Uruguay will become the first country in the world to replace its marijuana prohibition law with a legal regulatory system.

Uruguay’s bold move does much more than just follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington state, which last November became the first political jurisdictions in the world to approve the legalization of marijuana.

(MORE: How Much Will A Legal Marijuana Habit Cost You?)

It provides, significantly, a model for how to engage in debate over marijuana policy in a mature and responsible way.  When President Mujica first issued his proposal last June, he made clear that he welcomed vigorous debate over both its merits and the particulars.  International experts were invited from abroad for intensive discussions with people from all walks of civil society and government.  A range of specific proposals were considered, all with an eye toward transforming an illegal industry into a legal one to better protect public safety and health.  Political rhetoric and grandstanding permeated the debate, as would be expected in any vibrant democratic process, but substantive issues dominated.

The bill passed on Wednesday effectively integrates elements of Colorado’s and Washington’s laws with innovations from Europe and provisions unique to Uruguay.  Adults are permitted to cultivate up to six plants; cooperatives can provide marijuana for a limited number of members; and pharmacies can sell it.  Sales to minors, driving under the influence and all forms of advertising are prohibited.  This new model will be of great interest to advocates and legislators in other countries, and of course in the growing number of U.S. states in which a majority of citizens now favor legalizing marijuana.

What I as an American find most striking about Uruguay’s historic move is the demonstration of political leadership by President Mujica.  In the United States, marijuana policy reform is an issue on which the people lead and the politicians follow.  Colorado and Washington changed their laws through the ballot initiative process, with roughly 55% of voters supporting the reform, while most elected officials sat on the sidelines.  Even today, with a majority of Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana, not one U.S. governor or U.S. senator is prepared to publicly support the legalization of marijuana (apart from the governors of Washington and Colorado who now are obliged to implement the new laws in their states).  By contrast, when President Mujica made his proposal, he reportedly did it without consulting any polls or political consultants; he simply listened to respected experts about what the optimal marijuana policy would be – and then said, let’s do it.

President Mujica is not the only Latin American leader to demonstrate courage in calling for alternatives to the drug war.  Presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala have boldly demanded that legalization, decriminalization and other alternatives to ineffective, costly and destructive prohibitionist drug policies be considered.  More recently, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza has catapulted regional discussion of drug policy to an intellectual level unprecedented among multilateral organizations.  But President Mujica’s proposal is unique in changing not just public debate but also actual laws and policies.

All this serves as a wake-up call for Europe, which was at the forefront of global drug policy reform in the latter part of the 20th century but has now been leapfrogged by developments in the Americas. Serious proposals for legal regulation of marijuana are proliferating in countries like Switzerland, Spain, the Czech Republic, Denmark and the Netherlands.  And in Morocco, long one of the world’s leading producers of marijuana, legalization proposals are now being taken seriously by the national government.

So who’s next?  In the U.S., numerous states are likely to legalize marijuana in coming years, with Oregon perhaps first in line.  In Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper seems like a throwback to the drug war fanatics who dominated U.S. drug policy in the 1980s and 1990s, but both opposition parties seem ready to legalize marijuana once they regain power. And I’d keep my eye on the Dutch, who thirty-plus years ago pioneered the legal regulation of retail sales of marijuana through the “coffeeshop” system, and who may now be inspired by Colorado, Washington and Uruguay to fully legalize and regulate the industry.

46 comments
6u2m4n
6u2m4n

Isn´t it a, not amazing thing, realizing that Democracy and Tolerance are absolutely opposites?  Maybe I´m still sleepy. 

Whatanotion
Whatanotion

Freedom.  We are free to incarcerate those who will not buy their intoxicant from bonafide vendors of alcohol.  Besides too many stoners are too lazy to drive while intoxicated and don't consume gasoline; unlike drunks.

AlexSilveyra
AlexSilveyra

Lol Well I guess get ready for a false flag attack to invade Uruguay!

JeffRocas
JeffRocas

 @CHINOLA28 Desde Australia te digo que quiero vivir en Uruguay. Yo visite tu lindo pais hace un par de anyos, y lamento no haber apartado suficiente tiempo para explorarlo mas a fondo. La proxima vez me quedo por un rato mas largo. Felicidades CHINOLA, tenes razon de sentirte orgulloso de un pais tan progresista y liberal: un ejemplo a las naciones del mundo. (Y que macanudo es tu Presidente, eh?!!!).

CHINOLA28
CHINOLA28

SOY URUGUAYO Y HACE AÑOS QUE ME GUSTA FUMARME DE VES EN CUANDO UN BUEN PORRO Y LA VERDAD QUE UN PORRO (MARIHUANA) ES COMÚN EN CUALQUIER ÁMBITO , ESTOY ORGULLOSO DE MI PAIS, Y MIRANDOLO OBJETIVAMENTE ASI SEA CON ARREGLOS CAPITALISTAS O NO SE CON QUE MOTIVO LA LEGALIZARON, PERO A MI ME HACE BARBARO, YA NO TENDRÉ QUE IR A LOS LUGARES BAJOS Y PELIGROSOS A COMPRAR NI VER OTRAS DROGAS PESADAS, GRACIAS URUGUAY, ME PODRÉ FUMAR MI PORRO TRANQUILO SIN PERSEGUIRME, QUE ESO SI ES LIBERTAD!!! QUE ESO NUNCA SE PIERDA EN URUGUAY, PORQUE ESTE PAIS FUE FUNDADO CON ESE FIN PRIMORDIAL, ,, LAS LIBERTADES INDIVIDUALES !!!!!!! URUGUAY NOMÁ !!! 

epazote
epazote

anybody remember the word FREEDOM?

we need to be growing this herb by the TON to fight the cancer epidemic and other ghastly diseases ravaging the globe and also in preparation for the sad eventuality that some idiot government or terrorist organization will detonate nuclear warheads... or more nuclear power plants malfunction.

Cannabis is the only medicine that can relieve the sufferings of multitudes of people when nuclear disaster strikes.

Remember the Boy Scout motto:  "Be Prepared!"

MauricioMassa
MauricioMassa

However there are still several Drug Dealers in power.... Obama Been Lying (USA), Dilma Rucéfala (BRAZIL), etc. 

Paulpot
Paulpot

President Mujica is an international super hero and will long be remembered for beginning the end of the drug war and saving millions of lives. Because with Uruguay's example it will soon be obvious that the drug war always was a total lie. 

jj.wyndham
jj.wyndham

Has America declared war on Uruguay? Oh yeah, we don't do that any more. What carrier group has been deployed to the region? When do the air strikes on Montevideo start?Legalizing dope! That's just goddam Unamerican! Screw the UN, we'll save the world from this menace by ourselves, as usual. America will not stand idly by while there's any chance that someone anywhere might having a little fun, contrary to US policy!

ElectroPig
ElectroPig

Keep begging for "more legalization" and keep signing away any chance at ever getting your freedoms back, folks!

Cannabis was "legalized" the second they wrote the first statute which made it "illegal", thereby "importing cannabis into the realm of statutory control and enforcement." It's been 100% "legalized" ever since.

What most people meant to say was that prohibition should be REPEALED. Of course, since nobody ever looks up the meaning of words any more, they think that "decriminalize" or "legalize" or "re-legalize" or "tax and regulate" or "regulate like _____" mean "it's free again."

They don't.

"EVERYTHING that people have been begging for" hasn't resulted in the FREEING of the plant, or your ability to access, possess, or grow it yourself...and yet, the one word that DOES represent what everyone "believes they have been saying" is the one word they REFUSE to say...while wondering why every effort to regain their freedom fails...

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/repeal

re·peal [ri-peel] Show IPA
verb (used with object)

1. to revoke or withdraw formally or officially: to repeal a grant.
2. to revoke or annul (a law, tax, duty, etc.) by express legislative enactment; abrogate.

noun

3. the act of repealing; revocation; abrogation.

Origin:
1275–1325; Middle English repelen < Anglo-French repeler, equivalent to re- re- + ( a ) peler to appeal

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Repeal

A #repeal is the removal or reversal of a law.
There are two basic types of repeal, a repeal with re-enactment (or
replacement) of the repealed law, or a repeal without replacement. The
motion to rescind, repeal, or annul is used in parliamentary procedure to cancel or countermand an action or order previously adopted by the assembly. Removal of secondary legislation is normally referred to as revocation rather than repeal in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Under the common law of England and Wales, the effect of repealing a statute was "to obliterate it completely from the records of Parliament as though it had never been passed."[1] This, however, is now subject to savings provisions within the Interpretation Act 1978.

So now that you've FINALLY actually read the definition of the word that DOES represent what you "believe you were saying" since the 60's...NOW does it make a tiny bit more sense why ALL EFFORTS HAVE FAILED to restore our freedoms so far?

It's time we REPEALED prohibition. For everyone. Everywhere.

"More of the same" isn't working. It never did. It never will.

IT CAN'T...because it was never DESIGNED to.

Not "decriminalization." Not "legalization." Not "tax and regulate." Not "regulate like _______." Not "government controlled." Not "corporate monopoly controlled." Not even "for approved and specifically licensed medicinal use only."

ALL of those are just different forms of "specifically delineated" PROHIBITION.

If you want it over, you have to REPEAL it.

Unless you really WANT "more of the same?"

http://overgrow.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-fallacy-of-the-legalize-and-tax-cannabis-initiatives

OvergrowTheWorld

GustavoCalandraMoretti
GustavoCalandraMoretti

The real TRUE story. The international criminal George Soros, one of the owners of Montsanto and the transgenic dope they have developed, has bribed the uruguaian communist government to legalize marihuana (against the will of more than 60% of the population, with less than 25% of support) and also invested a lot of money, through "Open Society Foundation", to finance an advertisement local campaign made by communist controled uruguaian NGOs (Pit-Cnt, FEUU and Ovejas Negras).

Now Ethan Nadelmann, an "impartial" observer, who's boss is GEORGE SOROS, is clapping all this nasty criminal conducts as a good thing.

FlyingTooLow
FlyingTooLow


It's all about the money and where it goes.

I traveled extensively in Colombia, South America in the 1970's, and very
early 80's.  My reason for being there:  to buy the best marijuana I could
find for shipment to the United States.

The people I dealt with were not the killers depicted by our government.
They were Moms and Pops with families.  And some of the nicest, most
honorable people I have ever met.

This is not a war 'against' drugs.  This is a war for 'control' of the
drugs.
And the involved governments' only concerns are, 'Who gets the money.'

Once these products are legalized, we can all live in peace.  The quality of
the product will determine its market.

Just like lettuce and tomatoes.

I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for my escapades involving marijuana.
I wrote about them in:  Shoulda Robbed a Bank

nightman
nightman

Pffft! Violating marijuana laws is illegal. Violating marijuana regulations is illegal. How about making the violation of volition illegal.

JimHeffner
JimHeffner

Cannabis should never have been prohibited in the first place.  The prohibitionists lied before Congress to accomplish this evil.

eagle_blue
eagle_blue

My feeling is that the trend is correct.

I do not want to enter into an in-depth discussion. 

I only wnat to express several ideas that come to my mind.

If I want to produce paper, and paper can be produced from this plant, I need to harvest thousands of tons of this plant. If I am limited to grow only 5 plants, that seems entirely useless.

To call this process "legalize" seems a little weird to me.

If smoking this plant produces heavy,  or even dangerous,  changes in the mind, then this plnt is a medication.

Are we going to "legalize" all the drugs found in any drugstore, so any one can get anything without a prescription from a physician?

Production of this plant, especially for smokers, in the dark, clandestinely, in secrecy,   is unacceptable.

We are having (it seems clear enough) tremendous amount of problems from the illegal production and sale of marijuana and cocaine, and (very probably) many other similar substances, some of them synthetic. It is a maddening situation that should be stopped. 

We need to bring these things into the open. It seems to be the only way out. 

In some countries, including very probably the United States, it seems thousands of people are involved in the illegal trade of this substances. 

In some countries a very bloody war is been waged between competitors in the illegal production and distribution of these substances. We can no longer tolerate this. 

Probably it is not an exaggeration to say that more than 100, 000 people have died in these wars in Latin America in the last 8 years. I do not know if the same is happening in the United States.

It is a complicated matter. 

We should try to rescue the people involved in these illegal activities.

We can not keep so many people in jail. 

It is interesting that in Uruguay the President is leading the way.

There is a bumpy road ahead, but I think the trend is correct. 

We should not give up. We should stop the madness.


ms5799
ms5799

Jamaican farmers receive less than 46 cents per pound for the world's most prized coffee. All attempts to regulate cannabis which ignore fundamental economic facts such as the actual cost of production, and attempt to substitute government monopolies or government-instituted monopolies (i.e. "dispensaries" and the like), will likely fail due to economic realities.

mrxexon
mrxexon

While the public focuses on the law enforcement end of things, various nations will be studying the economics of what happens to Uruguay. It will no doubt create a tourist mecca. Instantly. 

The amount of money this black hole threatens to suck in is enormous. And people, being the vultures they are, will swoop in for a piece of the action. At least at first. Should another nation or two decide to also legalize, it will break the magic spell pretty quickly. But it will also sour organized crime on marijuana as a profitable venture. They'll see the bottom fall out.

Cracks in a windshield travel pretty fast sometimes. Anything we can do to remove organized crime from marijuana should be approved ASAP.

x

WilliamBarnes
WilliamBarnes

Would you like to know why not one U.S. governor or U.S. senator is prepared to publicly support the legalization of marijuana, except for.........? It's HYPOCRISY, my friend. As long as 'the people' vote for it, Politicians can say IT'S NOT MY FAULT, AND I HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT, SO YOU CAN'T SAY I'M FOR IT, because a lot of squares will withhold their votes from these hypocrites if they openly favor the legalization.


MuricanBob
MuricanBob

It's called dope for a reason! MURICA!!!!!!

Galen
Galen

America... governed by huge money interests, where rational reality is far behind the next election and lobbyist.

Even the `ol dope smoker Obama, because of his young girls, his race and his continued governing from behind, does not have to balls to move this reasonded reality forward.

LaughinPaulRyan
LaughinPaulRyan

... "Screw it, let's do it" ... - Sir Richard Branson

jway87
jway87

I think Uruguay's got it right. Keeping marijuana illegal makes it easily available to minors, and besides, it makes no sense to legalize a harmful substance like alcohol while refusing to also legalize a far safer alternative to it like marijuana.

People should have a right to choose how they'll keep themselves safe, not be forced to accept a harmful product just because its far less harmful alternative is kept illegal!

portmanteau69
portmanteau69

Perhaps the rest of the world is slowly realizing the complete waste that enforcement represents.

6u2m4n
6u2m4n

@CHINOLA28 ME FUI AL CARAJO CREO .... PERO BUE. TERAPIA MAÑANERA. UN ABRAZO HERMANO.

FlyingTooLow
FlyingTooLow

@epazote

‘FREEDOM’ is the issue…after all, this is a ‘free’ country…

When I look back on what I was taught in American public schools, I could just bust out crying… either the teachers I loved and respected LIED…or, ‘our’ government today is lying…

What have we become?
What we are seeing today is NOT freedom…

AlexSilveyra
AlexSilveyra

@Paulpot Yeah or he'll me remembered for being another CIA target from a grassy knoll. 

Duffman
Duffman

Yeah... I bet. You should see a doctor. You have a bad case of diehrea of the mouth.

JeffRocas
JeffRocas

@GustavoCalandraMoretti Cagadisimo de la risa, Gustavo!! Has de estar fumando de la buena!! Si no te gusta, no fumes. Si te gusta, fumala, comela, bebela, pero no jodas a los demas!

MaxMcwhiyghdtkniyghdt
MaxMcwhiyghdtkniyghdt

azmal's point about cigarettes is right on, but he should take comfort in knowing that substituting Ganja for tobacco can CURE millions of addicts.  Unfortunately Ethan's article is marred by someone providing a header picture of a joint  (h-ot b-urning o-verdose m-onoxide cigarette containing cannabis) instead of, more properly, a vaporizer or a one-hitter!  (TIME has made millions of bucks advertising cigarettes; a joint is a sneaky way to get kids hooked on the OVERDOSE PAPER format first so that they more easily get hooked on nicotine cigarettes.  Please, TIME, have a health-issues conversation with your photo editor.)

ElectroPig
ElectroPig

@FlyingTooLow It's already "legalized."  Has been in the states since 1937, and in Canada since 1923.


One day, you'll learn what the words "REPEAL cannabis prohibition" means...and when that day comes, and more people start to say "what they mean" instead of "what they believe they were saying all along" then we might stand a chance of getting somewhere.

mrxexon
mrxexon

@FlyingTooLow  

 I was living in the Florida panhandle back around 1982. Early one Saturday morning, a plane came in really low. Just over the trees. This plane is like a DC-3. Very loud. It landed in a private grassy airstrip some 2 miles away. The crew bailed, leaving behind 800 pounds of cocaine. Which in that day was a large coke bust.

It was at that time that I realized that coke had taken the place of pot as the cargo of choice for rebel pilots.

The whole trade got nasty after that. Violent. But what it did do is spawn a need for domestic marijuana. Places like Humboldt Co. California became a grower mecca. This is back in the day when most of the country was still smoking imports from Columbia and Mexico. (Remember your little cigar boxes full of seeds and stems?)

 God, I miss Columbian Gold. It deserved it's legend. Then there was Chocolate Thai, oh my!

Time to legalize. If there's any universal medicine for an uptight world, it's this.

 We need a snoot full.


x

ElectroPig
ElectroPig

@ms5799 Cannabis prohibition wasn't design "to work."  It was a failure from the get go.  They KNEW prohibition didn't work because it had JUST FAILED with alcohol, but since government ALWAYS knows that failure is the ONLY option, they kept all of the alcohol prohibition morons on the payroll and created a new agency and changed a word in their mandate from "alcohol" to "some word that sounds foreign, so the ignorant masses will just suck up the fear we peddle."


You can't take a KNOWN AND DOCUMENTED FAILURE, change a word, and suddenly expect the same feilure to suddenly work!  It's like the people "believing" that the digital zeroes and ones in their bank's computers are "money", but that silver and gold are "just stupid pieces of metal without any real value...while central banks and governments all over the world have been snapping up gold and silver by the MEGATON in preparation for the global fiat currency failure that's getting closer every second...but then, since EVERY fiat currency that has ever existed has failed, obviously, since this time we called it "the dollar" or "the Euro" or "whatever else", this time, the fiat paper and digital zeroes and ones are going to work!

(sigh...)

MaxMcwhiyghdtkniyghdt
MaxMcwhiyghdtkniyghdt

William is right about the politicians, but add that (especially Republicans) receive a lot of campaign money from tobacco corporations who don't want vaporizers (and the e-cigarette is a liquid formula vaporizer) replacing the high-profit $igarette format-- which will happen quickly the moment cannabis is legalized everywhere and tobacco users are free to switch to formerly banned harm reduction equipment!

Alexvizzio
Alexvizzio

@MuricanBob And that reason is...?  Do you know why it was classified a Class A drug or "dope" as you call it?  Or do you just repeat what they want you to believe and repeat?

wrathbrow
wrathbrow

@MuricanBob It is called dope because the term got it's start as a Mexican slang term for opiates, then was a slang term in some of the medical industry for some prescription drugs, hence the idea of the term dope them up. It then got carried forward with that general idea to marijuana.

Kind of helps to know what a word means and it's source and why it is called that before posting to say why it is called something.

MikeParent
MikeParent

@MuricanBob What's dumb is allowing alcohol and banning marijuana.  Heres why; FACT Marijuana is less addictive and less harmful than Caffeine, let alone Alcohol and Tobacco; (3 Scientific Studies)
BTW, Dr Henningfield is a former NIDA Staffer;.
Addictiveness of Marijuana - ProCon.org.
http://www.procon.org/view.background-resource.php?resourceID=1492

AND these folks did OK, even though they used "dope.

2012 Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Userswww.mpp.org/outreach/top-50-marijuana-users-list.html‎

GetReal123
GetReal123

The prison system in the U.S. is a corporate industry. Take a look at what is taking place in California.

FlyingTooLow
FlyingTooLow

@ElectroPig @FlyingTooLow ...many thanks for the correction.

But, I think we make the same point...stop locking people up for a plant.

Stay safe and outta trouble...prison is not very much fun...

FlyingTooLow
FlyingTooLow

@mrxexon @FlyingTooLow ...the story you relate was happening a LOT in that era.  I admit, I had a great time.

I was arrested aboard a Lockheed PV2 in Marianna, Florida...that was in 1981.  I was charged and convicted for conspiracy to import and distribute 12,000 pounds of marijuana from Colombia, SA.

The Feds cured me of my lowdown ways...but not my beliefs.  Your comment re '...universal medicine for an uptight world...'...very well said.  A million thanks for your response.

FlyingTooLow
FlyingTooLow

@eagle_blue @FlyingTooLow ... if you like the comment you would enjoy the book...

Warning:  the book contains some pretty strong language...

Stay safe and happy,

Hugh

MaxMcwhiyghdtkniyghdt
MaxMcwhiyghdtkniyghdt

Well said, but add that using the word "dope" for cannabis has remained a favorite sneaky way of fooling the public (especially youngsters) into thinking cannabis is an opiate, thus justifying prohibition.

FlyingTooLow
FlyingTooLow

@eagle_blue @FlyingTooLow ...I would be honored by your review...WARNING:  book contains some pretty strong language...take care...

eagle_blue
eagle_blue

@FlyingTooLow @eagle_blue  

I want certainly to read  the book, and I think I will.

This is, of course, not spam. It is exactly the subject matter.

Thanks for telling us about it.

Your call to stay safe, and happy, is quite strong. 

That is certainly the way it should be!