Legalization of cannabis: risky business?

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Last Wednesday, 31st of July 2013, the Congress of Uruguay passed a bill that regulates the consumption, production and commercialization of marijuana, making it the first country that will produce and legally market it. The bill passed, after 13 long hours of debate with 50 votes in favor and 43 votes against.

Once it becomes law, the government would be able to give licenses for the sale and production of cannabis to then create a confidential register on the consumers, who would be able to buy up to 40 grams per month. Selling the product without a license or planting it at house could also be punished with jail-time.

The main goal of the legalization of cannabis, one of President Mujica’s long-desired objectives, is that of steering the lucrative industry it represents into the hands of the government, and most of all, out of reach of organized crime. If all goes as planned, Uruguay would be the first country to place the monopoly of marijuana in the hands of the State.

Many consider this as a risky step, but up until now any attempt at undermining organized crime and the violence it creates in the country, has fallen short, so perhaps such innovation could prove to be the big step that the country needs. According to a survey, two thirds of the local population is against the decision, while those in favor consider that, with appropriate measures, it could be a success.

First came the legalization of gay marriage, then a stop on banning abortion and now this bill; one thing is for sure, there is never a dull moment in Uruguay. I can’t help but wonder, what does Mujica have in store for us next?

Chiara Romano Bosch.


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