Uruguay votes for cannabis legalization

Over the past years, Uruguay has been subject to great quantities of drugs coming into the country. In particular, there has been a great rise in cocaine paste arriving into the country through Columbia. Last year on the 20th June 2012, Jose Mujica, the president of Uruguary expressed his intent to legalize cannabis.

After much debate, the proposal was meant to be passed in December 2012, however Jose Mujica was not happy with the lack of public support, which was stuck at around 30% in public polls. Jose postponed his intentions simply for this reason and launched a greater public debate in order for the public to give their views on the matter and to express their concerns about the bill. Fast forward to yesterday, the bill was to be processed through the Uruguayan parliament to be voted on.

The new bill will authorize three different kinds of permits. The first is a permit for production where approved establishments may cultivate and supply cannabis for medicinal purposes, which can be directly purchased by the consumer. In this first permit states can also produce cannabis for other, various uses in textiles and paper.

The next is a permit for marketing, which gives boundaries on how cannabis that is sold by these approved establishments, may, or may not market their new products. This permit explains that it is prohibited to commercially advertise products.

The final permit gives boundaries for personal use. Persons will be permitted to access a maximum of 40 grams per month through the approved establishments. This permit also allows persons to grow up to 6 plants per household for personal use. Also allowing people to come together and grow 6 plants per person together.

Cannabis will be regulated by promoting education campaigns about the risks, threats, prevention and problematic use. The current sentencing for selling to persons under the age of 18 which can give a sentence of up to ten years imprisonment will also stay put. Cash flow that comes from selling cannabis will go into education and health policies that will focus on preventing and treating problematic drug use.

Finally, the legalization of cannabis will allow the country to develop more research studies on the substance to enable a much deeper, greater understanding of the substance in use, and to how the substance may be used for medical purposes.

This initiative has received a great amount of support. Over 100 different organizations have signed an open letter in support for the legalization of cannabis in Uruguay. The list of organizations that have signed this letter can be found here.

This morning, it was released that the bill has now been passed, with a majority of 50 law makers voting in favour out of 96!