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Uruguay Becomes First Country to Legalize Marijuana

Historic marijuana legalization measures await a well expected signature from Uruguayan President Jose Mujica, making Uruguay the first country in the world to fully legalize the drug.

The measure, passed by Uruguay’s senate over a 16-13 vote, will allow regulation of legal production, sale and consumption of marijuana. Considering President Mujica’s previous statements supporting legalization, very little can prevent legal cannabis from becoming a reality in Uruguay.

Senator Roberto Conde, one of the sixteen to support the measure, spoke of the benefits that could stem from the new law.

“Regulation-based policy has positive consequences for health and public security, given that, on the one hand, it can produce better results when it comes to education, prevention, information, treatment and rehabilitation in relation to the problematic uses of drugs,” Conde said. “On the other hand, it helps fight drug trafficking, which fuels organized crime and criminal activities that affect the security of the population.”

Outside Congress, crowds celebrated with signs saying, “Cultivating freedom, Uruguay grows.” Uruguayan residents over 18 will be allowed to carry up to 40 grams per month and will be added to a government database. Marijuana use has already been legal; the law simply expands that legality to growing and selling.

Although other countries such as the Netherlands have set provisions around marijuana use, Uruguay stands to be the first country to thoroughly legalize every part of the plant.

Senator Alfredo Solari of Uruguay’s Colorado Party, disagrees with the motion to legalize marijuana, saying it “does not comply with any of the ethical safeguards of experimentation with human beings,” and that marijuana is “a substance that harms human beings.”

Nevertheless, Mujica has defended his stance, lamenting that Uruguay has “given this market as a gift to the drug traffickers and that is more destructive socially than the drug itself, because it rots the whole of society.”

About the author

Gary Bryan is an industrial marketing manager by daytime and political and social issues writer by night. You can also find his editorials at Mic.com.