Uruguay: Marijuana Legalization Clears Significant Hurdle

Uruguay has leaped a significant hurdle on the road to marijuana legalization. The small South American nation is likely to become the first Latin American country to fully legalize marijuana now that its lower level of Congress has passed a bill to allow the government to regulate the legal sale and use of the herb.

According to multiple media sources including The Los Angeles Times and The Christian Science Monitor, the bill is expected to pass the upper house in months. The law to legalize marijuana is considered to be similar to the Colorado and Washington state laws passed in 2012.

The new law is backed by Uruguay’s President José Mujica, who believes that legalization will reduce crime and health risks while isolating hard drug users from marijuana consumers.

John Walsh of the Washington Office on Latin America, a think tank which has advised on drug policy reform, called Uruguay brave for taking a leadership role in “testing a compelling alternative to the prohibitionist paradigm.”

The new law will allow for recreational as well as medical use. People will be able to form clubs of up to 45 members to grow the herb.

However, individuals could also grow their own at home. They could also buy up to 40 grams a month at licensed pharmacies.

Possession in small amounts has been legal since 2000. But now the growing and selling will be legalized so that a consumer can possess it without dealing with criminal elements.

For those of us who thought whacky weed was plenty legal in some parts of Europe, I guess we didn’t read the fine print about marijuana use in Portugal, the Netherlands, or others. Euronews among other media sources said bluntly: “Uruguay appears set to become the first country in the world to create a legal market for marijuana.”

What’s the Twitter reaction? Something like this:

Uruguay lower house approved plans to create legal marijuana market. Meanwhile, I have to hide in my trunk to smoke a joint.

— Fixated (@TheSnideOne) August 1, 2013

Oddly, the measure passed 50-46 in the lower house — even though a recent poll said that only 26 percent of Uruguayans actually support marijuana legalization.

[Uruguayan football fan photo by Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com][marijuana photo by Epic Stock Media]