Uruguay has moved one step closer to becoming the first country to have a legal, government regulated marijuana industry — but the president warns “stoner tourists” shouldn’t light up in celebration just yet. Fifty members of Uruguay’s lower house of Congress voted in favor creating a government entity — the National Cannabis Institutem late last Wednesday, which would monitor the cultivation and sales of marijuana. Forty-six members voted against the bill.
The bill is heavily backed by Uruguay’s leftist president, Jose Mujica, who insists that Uruguay would not become a tourism destination for pot smokers. “No one should think implementing this law would create disorder or encourage consumption,” he said.
Under the bill, Uruguayan households would be allowed to grow up to six plants (about 17 ounces) annually. Regulated public smoking clubs would be permitted to grow 90 plants (15.8 pounds) each year. Currently, residents of Uruguay are permitted to smoke marijuana, but they cannot grow it or sell it. This is contradictory and promotes crime, drug-smuggling and “a monopoly of the mafia,” according to Mujica, who ironically has never “smoked a joint”.
According to polls, 63 percent of Uruguayans actually oppose the proposal to legalize the growth and distribution of the drug. Critics believe legalizing marijuana further might serve as a gateway for citizens to use harder drugs. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the U.S. Drug Policy Alliance, said, “Sometimes small countries do great things. Uruguay’s bold move … provides a model for legally regulating marijuana that other countries, and U.S. states, will want to consider — and a precedent that will embolden others to follow in their footsteps.”
What do you think about this bill? Will it cause corruption? Will it lead to more drug use? Does allowing residents in Uruguay to simply grow marijuana going to make a difference considering they are already allowed to smoke it? Do you think this will start a trend for other small countries, or even larger ones, like the U.S.?
Article and Picture Source: NBC.com