Though the country never criminalized the possession of drugs for personal use, Uruguay has now revealed a plan for ”regulated and controlled legalization” of cannabis.
The plan, which was presented by President Jose Mujica, 77, calls for marijuana to be sold by the government to adults and for the taxes collected from its sales to be used for drug rehabilitation.
President Mujica told El Observador, “The idea isn’t to make it totally free. We’re going to control it through a state network of distribution.”
Under the new plan, drug users will be monitored using a government database to prevent people from reselling cannabis to underground sources.
The legalization of marijuana is not simply to make legal a drug many argue is far less dangerous than cigarettes, but also to hopefully combat the abuse of a drug known as “pasta basica”, often compared to crack cocaine, by moving users over to marijuana, which studies have found is not addictive while still giving users a high.
Should Uruguayan lawmakers approve the president’s legalization plan, the country will become the first to not only legalize and regulate the drug, but also the first in which the government takes over the market.
Recent polls show more Americans are supporting marijuana legalization, with a number of states either implementing or considering decriminalization of cannabis.