Uruguay Marijuana Marketplace Approved for Residents to Buy, Sell, Use

Image: Uruguay Marijuana Marketplace Approved for Residents to Buy, Sell, Use

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 01:04 PM

By Ken Mandel

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Growing, selling, and smoking marijuana is legal in Uruguay after the country's Senate approved the creation of the world's first national marketplace, though it will be subjected to government oversight, according to The Associated Press.

In a 16-13 vote, the plan awaits the signature of President Jose Mujica, who initiated the bill and wants the market open next year. Despite the lack of public support for a legal marijuana industry, Mujica feels the government can control addictions and fend off crime better than the current global war on drugs.

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"Today is an historic day," Sen. Constanza Moreira told reporters. "Many countries of Latin America, and many governments, will take this law as an example."

Moreira voted with the Broad Front majority. Uruguay's drug control agency will have up to 120 days to construct regulations for every facet of the marketplace. Anyone involved with the production, distribution, and sale of the drug must have a license and registration, and government agents will enforce limits for sale and consumption.

The legalization of the recreational drug isn't intended to promote widespread use. A government ad campaign aired last week to warn the health risks.

"This is not liberalization of marijuana," Sen. Luis Gallo, a bill supporter, told The Associated Press. "It can be consumed within certain parameters established by law. I think it will reduce consumption.

Once Mujica signs the legislation, Uruguay will be the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana. Mujica introduced the proposal in June 2012 as part of a plan to fight crime. He received support from members of many different groups, who formed the Regulacion Responsable (Responsible Regulation) organization, and created a public campaign.

The bill was approved in the Chamber of Deputies in July and passed in the Chamber of Senators on Tuesday.

In the U.S., medical marijuana is legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Colorado and Washington have taken it a step further, forming markets where local authorities oversee legal growing, distribution, and sale for recreational reasons.

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