Uruguay has been making headlines by being the second country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage. Now, this humble country is making headlines again by being the first country ever in its entire history to legalize the consumption, sale and production of marijuana. Initially, the legalization of marijuana was first proposed back in 2012 to reduce the crimes related to drug abuse. Up to this date, the government is going ahead with the proposal by allowing citizens in Uruguay to purchase weed from government-licensed pharmacies, limited to 40 grams a month. Aside from that, Uruguayans are also allowed to grow their own marijuana plants at the comfort of their own home, with a maximum of six pots every year. Furthermore, private limited companies are free to grow their own large quantities of marijuana, provided they distribute and sell through state agencies, not by their own means.
The only issue that isn’t legal in Uruguay when it comes to marijuana is the distribution or selling of the products without going through the government. After all, the government isn’t looking to legalize the use of marijuana without missing the chance to gain money out of it. According to the Guardian, the government also plans to be one of the most affordable countries that sell marijuana, pricing at $1 per gram. With their aim of preventing drug traffickers, they place a low price in the market since the illegal side offers poor quality. In short, they are looking to dominate the market by preventing citizens from buying through a drug trafficker. Another reason for the government to take control of marijuana is to prevent teenagers from getting influenced by the drug traffickers to try other drugs aside from marijuana, which are much more dangerous. The pricing of marijuana decided by the Uruguay government is pretty reasonable due to the fact that in America, some of the states charge in a range of $8 or $17 per gram.
For the past few years, citizens were free to smoke cannabis in the middle of the streets or anywhere they wanted to. What was illegal back then was the freedom of being able to grow, carry, purchase or sell marijuana freely. If anyone gets caught, they will be faced with prison terms. The government will be the one advising how to consume the drug through several hemp guides offered to the citizens, with one of the ways to consume it is to have it vaporized, something which not many people are aware of.
The government also plans to regulate the crimes by focusing more on other drug-related issues such as cocaine, which is much more dangerous and costly on the government’s end. Since marijuana-related crimes are less violent and use up a lot of resources such as the time and effort of the police to capture them while putting them in jail, by fully legalizing the use of marijuana, citizens will not have to be put behind bars, leaving more room for heavier crimes.
During the heated debate among government leaders, about two-thirds of the parties involved opposed the idea of legalizing marijuana. Alfredo Solari, the opposition member, mentioned that the government shouldn’t be experimenting on its people. However, in the end, the majority had won, led by President Jose Mujica. There have been several critics involving Uruguay making the decision to start legalizing marijuana. Some of them stated that Uruguay is exposing even more people to start getting into drugs. They even felt the country wouldn’t be able to cope with the sudden surge of marijuana dealers and sellers once it has been legalized. The President hopes to encourage marijuana users by providing a safe, transparent space for them while monitoring the market closely. It will be a win-win situation for all parties in the government’s eyes. By fixing the right amount of ingredients used in each product, the government is able to control and make it profitable at the same time. Even the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance fully supported Uruguay’s decision to legalize marijuana by following the neighbourhood states like Washington and Colorado. He hopes other states and countries would be able to open up and start legalizing the use of marijuana as well, with Oregon being one of the next upcoming states.