Setting itself on a path to be the first country to legalize marijuana, Uruguay’s lower House passed a fiercely debated bill Wednesday that would allow the drug to be sold through pharmacies to people 18 and older.
The bill, which passed the House of Representatives 46 to 50, will now move on to the Senate in October, CNN reported.
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The country’s President Jose Mujica supports the legislation, telling CNN in a previous interview, “If we legalize it, we think that we will spoil the market (for drug traffickers) because we are going to sell it for cheaper than it is sold on the black market.”
The bill also would set up a registry that identifies who buys marijuana.
The drug is the most commonly used in Uruguay, CNN reported.
The news article reported that more Latin American countries are considering legalization as a way to fight drug use and the violence drugs cause.
The Sydney Morning Herald said the current measure to be debated
in the Senate in the fall lays out a plan for the Uruguay government to control and regulate any importing, planting, cultivation, harvesting, storage – essentially all parts of the process – and registered users could grow up to six plants or get the drug through a marijuana-growing club or a dispensary.
A recently released survey said 63 percent of Uruguayans oppose legalizing marijuana as specified in the government’s plan, according to The Herald. Currently, citizens can possess marijuana for personal use, but a judge determines what that amount is.
Predictably, online sites lit up with both positive and negative comments about Uruguay’s move toward legalizing marijuana.
The Global Post reported that a United Nations narcotics organization “was alarmed”
about the bill’s passage.
The International Narcotics Board, set up to monitor compliance with drug control treaties, published a statement that said
, “Such a law would be in complete contravention to the provisions of the international drug control treaties, in particular the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, to which Uruguay is a party.”
The organization urged Uruguay’s government officials to “carefully consider all repercussions” before making a final decision.
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