Uruguay Becomes First Country to Legalize MarijuanaThe Uruguay Senate passed a historic bill that would legalize and regulate the production of cannabis for adults starting at a price of $1 per gram. The Senate voted with 16 votes in favor and 13 opposed.
Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica introduced the legislation earlier this year and it was approved by the lower chamber of congress in July. The bill easily passed in the Senate as Mujica’s supporters, the leftist Broad Front holds the majority in the upper chamber.
Before its approval in the Senate, President Mujica described the legislation as a “social and political experiment” that would serve as an alternative to battling drug trafficking that is prominent across Latin America.
“We are asking the world to help us with this experience, which will allow the adoption of a social and political experiment to face a serious problem—drug trafficking,” he told Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo. “The effects of drug trafficking are worse than those of the drugs themselves.”
President Mujica made it clear that Uruguay will not simply be a country of “free marijuana,” adding that the government will heavily regulate a market that exists whether or not it is legalized.
Before becoming president, Mujica stressed in his campaign that he would tackle drug-related crime and has called for government control and regulation over the entire chain of production, harvesting, sale and consumption of marijuana.
Uruguay has been hammered with a national debate on marijuana. According to AFP, 61 percent of those surveyed in Uruguay, do not approve of marijuana legalization.
The initial price lawmakers approved is $1 per gram, while the illegal market value is $1.40 per gram.
The bill will allow registered adult citizens—those 18 years old or over—to buy up to 40 grams of pot per month from approved pharmacies. Adults will also have the option of registering themselves in order to cultivate up to six marijuana plants.
The bill also allows clubs with more than 45 members to grow up to 99 plants. A government-run institute will be in charge of setting up and controlling prices and production levels.
In the event the regulations do not work and the law is judged as a failure, the government will reverse its decision, President Mujica said.