Cannabis in Uruguay
Cannabis is one of the most widely used drugs in Uruguay. Possession for personal use is not penalized, although today's law does not specify quantity for "personal amount". In August 2014 Uruguay legalized growing up to six plants at home, and in October 2014 the Government began registering growers' clubs, who will be allowed to grow a maximum of 99 cannabis plants annually. Before November 30, 2014 president election, the leading opposition candidate claimed that he would try to repeal the law if elected, but since he lost election this did not happen.
Proposal for legalization
In June 2012, the Uruguayan government, under president Mujica, announced plans to legalise state-controlled sales of cannabis in order to fight drug-related crimes and health issues. The government stated that they will ask global leaders to do the same. Nobel prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa praised the decision as "courageous".
The law intends to reduce the profit that drug trafficking creates for organized crime, as well as reducing the drug-related violence and the social problems associated with it. Uruguay has one of the lowest murder rates in the region (though by some estimates, crime was slightly increasing in 2013).
Mujica's plan would allow users to cultivate the plant for non-commercial uses and grant licenses to professional farmers for larger scale production. The plan includes a system of user registry, a tax, and quality control, all coordinated through the existing agency that monitors tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceuticals. He estimated that with 70,000 users, the country will have to produce more than 5,000 pounds each month. He also stated: "Uruguay wants to make a 'contribution to humanity' by legalising marijuana but will backtrack if the 'experiment' goes awry".
On 31 July 2013, the House of Representatives passed the bill to legalize and regulate the production and sale of cannabis and sent it to the country's Senate. The bill was approved by 50 affirmative votes (the minimum required) with all Deputies from the ruling Broad Front voting in favor and all the other Deputies voting against it. The bill was passed by the Senate's Health Commission on 26 November and was expected to be voted by the full Senate since November 2013.
The new law was accepted in the Senate on 10 December 2013 by a 16–13 vote. Julio Calzada, Secretary-General of Uruguay’s National Drug Council, explained in a December 2013 interview that the government will be responsible for regulating the production side of the process: "Companies can get a license to cultivate if they meet all the criteria. However, this won’t be a free market. The government will control the entire production and determine the price, quality, and maximum production volume." People will be allowed to buy up to 40 grams (1.4 oz) of cannabis from the Uruguayan government each month. Users have to be 18 or older and be registered in a national database to track their consumption. Cultivators are allowed to grow up to 6 crops at their homes each year and shall not surpass 480 grams (17 oz). Registered smoking clubs will be allowed to grow 99 plants annually. Buying cannabis will be prohibited to foreigners and it will be illegal to move it across international borders.
Implementation of the new law postponed
In July 2014 president José Mujica announced that the implementation of the law is postponed to 2015, "there are practical difficulties". Authorities will grow all the cannabis that can be sold legally. Concentration of THC shall be 15% or lower.
In August 2014, an opposition presidential candidate claimed that the new law was unworkable and would never be applied.
- Arguments for and against drug prohibition
- Drug liberalization
- Latin American drug legalization
- Legality of cannabis by country
- World Drug Report 2011. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Cannabis stats are from Chapter 18.104.22.168. Consumption: Annual prevalence of Cannabis, p. 217. "Sources: Annual Reports Questionnaires, Academic Researches, Concise International Chemical Assessment Documents (CICAD), Government Reports, European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD), International Narcotics Control Strategy Reports (INCSR)."
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- A machine translation of the Law