|Hispanically Speaking News|
|Uruguay President Jose Mujica: "We feel that putting it aboveboard, regulating it, can be a lesser evil than what is happening today"|
The plan, under which Uruguay would sell marijuana to its citizens, will require people to prove they are Uruguayan before scoring any weed, Mujica told Agence France Presse (AFP). The legalization bill -- the first complete legalization in the world, as opposed to decriminalization of "tolerance" as practiced in places like the Netherlands and Portugal -- "is to resolve a problem that we ourselves have," President Mujica said.
"We are not going to accept consumer tourism," he said.
The legislation, proposed in June and sent to parliament in August, has not yet been approved.
According to President Mujica, the idea is to take at least some of the cannabis trade away from black market traffickers and treat consumers as sick people rather than as criminals.
Drug trafficking has gotten so bad in Uruguay -- a small nation bordering Brazil and Argentina -- that, for the first time here, rival drug gangs are settling scores by killing each other, according to Mujica.
The bill won't do away with Uruguay's "drug problem," the president said, nor does it mean the government wants people to smoke dope.
But "we feel that putting it above board, regulating it, can be a lesser evil than what is happening today," he explained.
People who buy marijuana from Uruguay's state health care system would have to identify themselves. If the government decides you're smoking too much weed -- whatever the hell that means -- people will be urged to "get help," the president said.
The marijuana sold by Uruguay would have to be traceable to prevent its diversion to the black market in other countries, Mujica added.
"We do not want to harm our neighbors," he said. "So the state has to handle this."