On Wednesday, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica submitted a proposal to Parliament to make Uruguay the first country in the world where the government would directly sell marijuana to its residents.
Uruguay has dealt with significant crime and violence in recent years. The measure is intended to stop drug profits from going to dangerous drug cartels. Marijuana legalization and regulation under the government would make it so money from marijuana sales would go back into the country, rather than to fueling violence and illegal activity. Additionally, marijuana users would not have to interact with drug dealers who are also selling more serious drugs such as cocaine and heroin.
The proposal says that the Uruguayan government will “assume the control and the regulation of the activities of importation, production, acquisition of any title, storage, marketing, and distribution of marijuana and its derivatives” and that these activities “must be exclusively realized in the framework of a harm reduction policy.”
President Mujica is being lauded for his efforts in marijuana reform. Recently, a number of Latin American leaders have called for an end to the war on drugs, but Mujica is one of the first to actually propose a policy alternative.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, spoke out in favor of the President’s actions, stating, “After national alcohol Prohibition was repealed in the United States, differing state-level alcohol policies were enacted, from privatized sale with minimal regulation to state monopolies. Similarly, there is no one optimal marijuana model. Uruguay needs to find the model that works best for Uruguay.”
The concept of legalization was first sent to Congress in the country in late June.