Uruguay unveils plans to allow government to sell marijuana

 

Uruguay's national government has said it plans to send a bill to Congress that would allow it to sell marijuana, making it the first country in the world to do so.

Under the plan, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana and only to adults who register on a government database when buying the drug to keep track of their purchases over time.

Minister of Defence Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro told reporters at a press conference in Montevideo that the measure aims to weaken crime in the country by removing profits from drug dealers and diverting users from harder drugs.

He said the bill would be sent to Congress soon, but an exact date had not been set.

Uruguayan newspapers have reported that money from taxes on marijuana sold by the government would go towards rehabilitating drug addicts. The government did not provide details.

There are no laws against marijuana use in Uruguay. Possession of the drug for personal use has never been criminalised.

Media reports have said that people who use more than a limited number of marijuana cigarettes would have to undergo drug rehabilitation and that money from taxes on the cigarettes would go to rehabilitating addicts.

But some Uruguayans wondered how successful such a measure could be.

"People who consume are not going to buy it from the state," said Natalia Pereira, 28, adding that she smokes marijuana occasionally. "They're going to mistrust buying it from a place where you have to register and they can typecast you."

A debate over the move lit up social media networks in the country, with some people worried about free sales of marijuana and others joking about it.

"Legalising marijuana is not a security measure," one man in the capital of Uruguay wrote on his Twitter account.

"Ha, ha, ha!" joked another. "I can now imagine you going down to the kiosk to buy bread, milk and a little box of marijuana."

The idea is to weaken crime by removing profits from drug dealers and diverting users from harder drugs.

"The main argument for this is to stop addicts from dealing and reaching (crack-like) substances" such as base paste, said Juan Carlos Redin, a psychologist who works with drug addicts in Montevideo.

"Some studies conclude that a large number of base paste consumers first looked for milder drugs like marijuana and ended with freebase."

Mr Redin said Uruguayans should be allowed to grow their own marijuana because the government would run into trouble if it tries to sell it. The big question he said will be, "Who will provide the government (with marijuana)?"

"If they actually sell it themselves, and you have to go to the Uruguay government store to buy marijuana, then that would be a precedent for sure, but not so different than from the dispensaries in half the United States," said Allen St.Pierre, executive director of US-based National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

Mr St Pierre said the move would make Uruguay the only national government in the world selling marijuana. Numerous dispensaries on the local level in the US are allowed to sell marijuana for medical use.

AP

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
i100
Life and Style
gaming
Arts and Entertainment
Carl Barat and Pete Dohrety in an image from the forthcoming Libertines short film
filmsPete Doherty and Carl Barat are busy working on songs for a third album
Arts and Entertainment
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Engineer - Smart Home / IoT Devices

£32500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Electronic Engineer is requi...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Solicitor - Leicester

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: LEICESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL SOLICITOR- An o...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer - 1st Line

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support organisation focuses on ...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst (Windows, Active Directory) - London £26k

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Technical Support Analyst / IT Support Analys...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible