Uruguay has become the first country to fully legalize and control the distribution of marijuana. While the move is being lauded by activists around the world. the United Nationals has blasted the move as illegal and argues that it violates international treaties. With numerous nations around the world moving to decriminalize and legalize marijuana, however, the UN’s condemnations may fall on deaf ears.

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Uruguay sets worldwide precedent

Uruguay has become the first country to fully legalize marijuana. Despite pressure on the country’s Senate, the congressional body moved to legalize marijuana, setting a worldwide precedent which could have dramatic impacts on the drug’s status across the globe. Many nations and local regions have decriminalized the drug, which would appear to be fully legal under UN treaties, however, no nation has fully legalized it.

According to the United Nations, Uruguay’s move is “unfortunate”. UN officials believe that legalization will lead to early experimentation, an earlier onset of addiction, and other undesired outcomes. Other reports, however, have argued that marijuana is not physically addictive. The United Nations also claims that this move is a major setback for international cooperation, though Uruguay has previously argued that this is an internal decision and an exercise of the country’s sovereignty.

Under the new laws citizens will be able to obtain up to 1.4 ounces of marijuana from government-run dispensaries each month. People will be tracked in a database, thereby limiting systemic abuse. Foreigners and minors will not be permitted to buy pot from government dispensaries. Government officials believe that these measures will help limit the negative aspects of legalization.

Marijuana legalization is picking up steam elsewhere as acceptance of the drug is growing. A Gallup poll conducted in January actually found that Americans favor legalizing pot for the first time in history, with some 58% of Americans favoring legalization. Interestingly, even many of those who do not smoke, support legalization.

Momentum growing in favor of legalization

With so much momentum in favor of legalization it may only be a matter of time before the United Nations is forced to change its stance. Critics argue that the UN’s laws are no longer relevant to modern times, and that marijuana has been proven to be no more harmful than alcohol or cigarettes, both of which are legal in many countries and not outlawed by the UN.

With a special session to be held at the United Nations in 2016 to focus on the growing drug problem, Uruguay’s move is sure to be a popular topic in the years to come. Many other Latin American countries are waiting to see if the policy will achieve one of its primary goals of cutting funding and support for criminal organizations, many of which are heavily involved in the marijuana trade.