Uruguay has become the first country in the world to legalize the growth, distribution, and consumption of marijuana.
The government will regulate the production, sales and use of pot in an attempt to control addiction and drug trafficking and its associated violence.
The Senate gave final legislative approval to the bill late Tuesday. President Jose Mujica, who campaigned for the legislation, is expected to sign it into law.
Starting in April, users will be able to buy marijuana over the counter from licensed pharmacies. Buyers must be over 18 and registered on a government database that will monitor their purchases. The country’s drug control agency will draft regulations for full state control over the market, from growth to use.
Everyone involved in the market will have to be licensed and registered, and regulations will apply, including a 40 gram a month purchase limit. Licensed home growers will be allowed to own no more than six marijuana plants.
Recent opinion polls showed that two-thirds of Uruguayans opposed the creation of a government-run marijuana industry. Despite that majority opposition, Mujica moved forward with the legislation, arguing that the global drug war is a failure. He said bureaucrats can do a better job of reducing addictions and beating organized crime than police, soldiers and prison guards.
Martin Collazo, a pro-legislation campaigner, told euronews:
“Today is a historic day, not only for Uruguay, but the whole world. Uruguay is the first country to regulate the marijuana market. There is a big stake now for social organisations to continue working for the efficiency of this programme. But today, above all, is a day of celebration, as you can see from the people outside the legislative palace.”
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