This last summer, Uruguay dominated headlines due to its move to legalize marijuana. Now, the South American country has begun to reveal details on how its legal pot system will work. Perhaps most importantly, pot will be sold for about 1 dollar a gram, which should allow the government to compete with criminal drug dealers.
Uruguay claims that the aim is not to raise money
The government of Uruguay claims that the aim is not to raise money or revenues, but instead to aid in the fight against crime and the battle against drug abuse. Officials say that by making pot legal, it can curb the influence of violent criminals in society. Currently, smoking pot in Uruguay is actually legal, however, the production and sale of it is not. As a result, criminal gangs largely own the local drug scene. Government officials believe that legal marijuana could help to push such people out of the market.
While legalizing pot might seem like a controversial tactic, there's a good chance that it could work. Criminal drug lords have used entry level drugs, such as pot, to fund their operations and expansion into more potent drugs, such as cocaine and heroin. Selling pot also allows drug dealers to build up vast distribution networks and a huge clientèle. It's possible that by taking pot sales away from the crime world, the government will be able to weaken criminal networks.
So far, the plan is not as widely sweeping as it might seem. Only local people will be allowed to buy the drug, and they will not be able to buy more than 40 grams in a given month. Whether or not such restrictions will actually be applied, however, remains to be seen. Either way, this is one of the first attempts to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes on a national level.
While some nations may protest the move as threatening their own interests, there is little that can be done. There is no international legal system or code that would seem to allow the United States or other opponents to pursue Uruguay. What may concern other nations, however, is any possible spill over effect. For example, if pot is grown and sold legally in Uruguay, there's a risk that it could then be illegally exported abroad. The Uruguay government has promised to keep a close eye on its marijuana industry, and will work to prevent any detrimental effects, such as illegal imports.
Pot is not yet officially legal in Uruguay; the law must still be passed by the Senate, which it appears likely to do. The lower house has already passed the bill, and the executive branch supports the policy, so it may only be a matter of time before pot is fully legalized. Uruguay will then join the Netherlands and North Korea (yes, North Korea) in the small club of countries where pot use is legal. Canada, Israel, and numerous other countries also allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Half of all Americans support legalizing marijuana
The winds of change may also be blowing in the United States. Colorado and Washington have both legalized pot for recreational use, while numerous other states have also legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. These policies contradict the Federal government's ban on the sale and use of marijuana in any way, shape, or form. About half of all Americans support legalizing marijuana, so it may only be a matter of time before the Federal government liberalizes its views.