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Uruguay: Government Proposes to Decriminalize Sale of Marijuana

The announcement that the Uruguayan government would push a bill to decriminalize the controlled sale of marijuana has generated mixed reactions. The proposal was presented as a security measure to prevent the consumption and trafficking of cocaine paste (“pasta base” in Spanish), a popular drug among Uruguayan youth.

According to the latest reports by newspaper El País [es], the government will announce a package of 16 measures as a “war against cocaine paste”. The government argues that cocaine paste is responsible for many crimes, especially those committed by minors. El País reports that the bill would, “leave the sale of marijuana to the State as a way to ‘launder’ the drug market, removing a significant profit margin from drug traffickers and ‘moving’ cocaine paste addicts to a softer drug.” The newspaper also points out that the possession and use of marijuana for personal use is not penalized in Uruguay.

The blog World War -D explains:

According to the proposal, marijuana will be legally available under government control through a user registry and subject to quality control and traceability. Users will be limited to a maximum of 40 marijuana cigarettes per month. The price will be accessible and taxes will be levied to finance addiction treatment.

Twitter users quickly reacted to the news. Some celebrate the announcement, like Vanesa Casanova (@vanecasan) [es]:

Me levanto escuchando un discurso SUBLIME de Mujica…”proyecto de legalización de la marihuana”. Maravilloso‪ #BuenFeriado‬

I wake up listening to a SUBLIME speech by [President] Mujica…”project to legalize marijuana”. Wonderful ‪ #BuenFeriado‬ (“good holiday”)

Others, like Álvaro Amoretti (@aamorettivp) [es], wonder:

Con todo lo que hay que resolver y encarar, ¿es razonable embarcar al país en un debate por la marihuana? Es tiempo de hacer, presidente.

With everything that we have to solve and face, is it reasonable to embark the country in a debate over marijuana? It is time to “do”, president.

Similarly, user @LalaCanessa [es] tweets:

Legalizar la venta de marihuana… Otra vez ponen el foco en cosas que no nos mejoran como pais. Enserio Pepe, deja de vender humo!

Legalizing the sale of marijuana.. Once again they focus on things that don't make us improve as a country. Really Pepe [Mujica], stop messing with us!

While Graziano Pascale (@grazianopascale) [es] doesn't see how legalizing the sale of marijuana will solve the country's issues with security:

La legalización de la marihuana en un “paquete x seguridad” tiene tanto sentido como promover ciclismo para combatir accidentes de aviación

The legalization of marihuana in a “security package” makes as much sense as promoting cycling to combat aircraft accidents

The discussion over legalizing the sale of marijuana is not new in Uruguay. On May 5, 2012, more than two thousand people marched in Montevideo as part of the Global Marijuana March held in cities across the world. Prolegal-Proderechos shares this video of the march:

The government's proposals will have to go through parliamentary discussion and approval before any measures take effect. In the mean time, the debate is likely to continue on social networks.

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