Uruguay approves cannabis legalization measure



Update 12/11/13 – 8:20 a.m.: Uruguay yesterday became the first country in the world to legalize and regulate cannabis sales as well as legalize the home cultivation for adults over 21. The Uruguayan Senate yesterday gave final approval to the proposed measure, passing the bill over to President Jose Mujica, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill passed with a 16-13 majority.
“Today is an historic day. Many countries of Latin America, and many governments, will take this law as an example,” Sen. Constanza Moreira said after the vote.

Original story 12/10/13 – 11:20 a.m.:The Uruguayan Senate today begins their final debate on legalizing marijuana possession and cultivation by adults in the country and sourcing commercial production and sales through government-regulated businesses. Interestingly, cannabis use in already legal in the country.
Most seem to think the debate is merely a formality at this point, and the Senate – and eventually President Jose Mujica – will approve the measure. The Uruguayan house has already approved the bill.
Once approved, Uruguay would have about four months to draft and pass laws that would allow the country to control the entire cannabis industry. Growers, sellers, wholesalers and even customers will be tracked through government systems. Each adult will be allowed to purchase up 40 grams every month.
Mujica says the bill will help the government reign in illegal drug trafficking and organized crime. He also says that with the increased public availability will come increased public awareness of the harms and dangers of cannabis use (Editor’s note: harms and dangers?). The government has already begun a public awareness campaign in advance of the new laws being passed.
“We’ve given this market as a gift to the drug traffickers and that is more destructive socially than the drug itself, because it rots the whole of society,” Mujica told local news agency Telam.

Some say the new laws will actually curtail cannabis usage in the country.
“We think it’s necessary to find a management strategy that controls and regulates consumption and production,” Sen. Luis Gallo told the Associated Press this morning before the meeting. “This is not liberalization of marijuana. It can be consumed within certain parameters established by law. I think it will reduce consumption.”
Interestingly, some polls show as many as two-thirds of the country is actually opposed to the law changes. During a Senate Health Commission meeting, several people spoke out against legalizing cannabis sales including psychiatrists, pharmacists and several educators.
For those of you pot heads already planning your next South American getaway to smoke legal cannabis, save your airline miles. Cannabis sales will only be allowed to Uruguayans licensed in the program.
The measure will also allow adults to cultivate up to six plants at home every year and keep up to 17 ounces of herb from those plants. The law also allows for people to create smoking and cultivation cooperatives with as many as 45 members.