Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

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Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Mon 25th Mar 2013 10:03 pm

Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

by Phillip Smith,
March 25, 2013

Last fall, Uruguayan President Jose Mujica proposed legalizing marijuana commerce and cultivation (marijuana possession has never been a crime there), but shortly thereafter postponed action on the proposed legislation in the face of public opposition. Now he's ready for the country to have a discussion about it.

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In December, Mujica postponed action on the bill, even though his party and its allies control the legislature. He cited polling that showed 64% of the public had reservations about allowing pot sales and cultivation.

Mujica continues to support the bill, but wanted to slow the process down to educate the public. Now, that process is beginning. Starting on April 4, a nationwide dialog on the bill is set to get underway. The three-month public debate will feature round tables, seminars, and conferences across the country and, Mujica hopes, bring public opinion around.

Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla in the 1970s, has argued that legalizing the commerce in marijuana would weaken drug smuggling gangs and fight petty crime. Uruguay is one of the safest Latin American nations, but has been scarred by criminal violence associated with the drug trade.

The bill would create a National Cannabis Institute to regulate commercial marijuana production and distribution. But unlike reports from last fall, it will not create state marijuana stores. The Institute would also come up with penalties for rule-breakers and help design programs to warn of the risks of pot smoking. For private households, the bill would allow the cultivation of up to six plants and the possession of up to 17 ounces.

If the bill becomes law, Uruguay would become the first country to formally legalize marijuana commerce. Such commerce had gone on in Holland for decades, with the laws against it still on the books, but ignored under the Dutch policy of "pragmatic tolerance." Other countries have decriminalized marijuana possession, but not the commerce.


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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Wed 31st Jul 2013 12:12 pm

Uruguay to legalize, regulate cannabis sales?

By William Breathes
Tuesday, July 30, 2013


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Toke-Uruguay.flag.jpg

A bill to outright legalize cannabis in Uruguay is starting to see action. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, the Uruguayan House of Representatives is set to vote on a legalization bill this summer - likely tomorrow.

The bill would still have to be approved by the Uruguayan senate and signed by President José Mujica before becoming law. Thankfully, the legalization idea came straight from Mujica's office and his Frente Amplio party has majorities in both chambers of the legislature. If passed, Uruguayans over the age of 18 would be able to buy just under a half-ounce of cannabis per month at a government-regulated shop.

In short: it almost looks like a lock so long as lawmakers vote along party lines. Unfortunately, there are still holdouts and Uruguayan newspaper El Observador says that only 49 legislators have pledged their support out of the 50 needed for a majority to move the bill forward. The holdout is currently representative Darío Pérez, though the paper says that José Carlos Cardoso from the opposing political party is in favor of the bill but is hesitant to vote against his party.

The proposal was first introduced last June to help end local crime and corruption that surrounds the illegal drug trade. Since then, it has grown into a national campaign complete with TV advertisements. According to DPA, the ads feature a mother, doctor and a lawyer talking about the benefits of cannabis legalization.

Uruguay's legalization proposal has been applauded by leaders in several Latin American countries including Mexico and Brazil, as well as by more than 100 organizations from around the globe.

"Two years ago, in my capacity as chairman of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, I made a public call for the decriminalization of drug use and for experimentation with models of legal regulation," former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso wrote in July. "I and my colleagues did so recognizing that drug prohibition had failed on many levels. For too long, it has represented a waste of precious government resources, which has had few benefits for public safety and health. We encouraged experimentation with legal regulation because we believe it will undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard health and security. For this reason, I believe the current proposal to regulate marijuana in Uruguay is worthy of serious consideration."

Interestingly, despite Mujica's support for cannabis legalization he says he's never even tried it.

According to ABC News, the bill could have passed last December but polling in the country showed that citizens weren't necessarily in favor. At the time, Mujica told his party to not vote on the issue and to respect that "support has to come from the streets".


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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Thu 1st Aug 2013 01:07 pm

Uruguay House Passes Marijuana Legalization Bill

by Phillip Smith,
July 31, 2013,


The Uruguayan lower house of parliament passed a bill that would create the world's first legal, regulated marijuana markets Wednesday night. The bill passed on a vote of 50-46 after nearly 12 hours of debate.


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Uruguayan President Jose "Pepe" Mujica (wikimedia.org)

“Sometimes small countries do great things,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Uruguay’s bold move does more than follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington. It 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.”

Under the bill, the Uruguayan government would license producers, sellers, and consumers. Smokers would be limited to buying 40 grams a month. Unlicensed possession, cultivation, or sales would be criminal offenses, including prison time in some cases.

Registered users would be able to grow up to six plants, join a marijuana-growing collective, or purchase marijuana at a dispensary or pharmacy.

President Jose Mujica has been pushing the bill as a means of attacking black markets and organized crime by creating a legal, licensed marijuana marketplace. He first unveiled it nearly a year ago, but postponed voting at year's end to try to rally public support. A "Responsible Regulation" campaign including TV ads tried to sway the public in recent weeks, to little effect, and public opinion remained opposed to the measure.

But Mujica's Broad Front (Frente Amplio) coalition held a narrow 50-49 edge in the lower house, and parliamentary discipline prevailed. The bill will go before the upper house later this year. The Broad Front also holds the majority there, meaning the bill should pass if discipline continues to hold.

“At the heart of the Uruguayan marijuana regulation bill is a focus on improving public health and public safety,” said Hannah Hetzer, who is based out of Montevideo, Uruguay, as the Policy Manager of the Americas for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Instead of closing their eyes to the problem of drug abuse and drug trafficking, Uruguay is taking an important step towards responsible regulation of an existing reality. By approving this measure, Uruguay will take the broad regional discussion on alternatives to drug prohibition one step further. It will represent a concrete advance in line with growing anti-drug war rhetoric in Latin America,” she said

According to accounts from the Associated Press and Agence France-Presse, the debate Wednesday featured sign-waving crowds dancing to reggae music outside the Congress building and dozens of legalization supporters filling the galleries.

"The regulation is not meant to promote consumption, consumption already exists," lawmaker Sebastian Sabini, who helped draft the legislation, said at the beginning of the session.

The black market in marijuana "finances organized crime" and "marijuana use has doubled in the last 10 years," pro-legalization lawmakers added.

But opposition lawmakers were unimpressed.

"We will not end the black market," warned National Party lawmaker Gerardo Amarilla. "Ninety-eight per cent of those who are today destroying themselves with base cocaine began with marijuana. I believe that we’re risking too much. I have the sensation that we’re playing with fire."

Richard Sander of the opposition Colorado Party played an anti-legalization video of ex-addict testimony, adding that the government plan was full of "ad-libbing."

But the opposition came to nought in the end, and now Uruguay is one step closer to becoming the first country in the world to have a legal, regulated marijuana market.


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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Sun 4th Aug 2013 01:07 am

UN Drug Agencies Fret over Uruguay Marijuana Vote

by Phillip Smith,
August 02, 2013

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Wednesday night's vote in the Uruguayan chamber of deputies to approve a state-run marijuana commerce would make the South American nation the first to create legal pot markets, and that's making United Nations anti-drug bureaucracies nervous. Both the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) issued statements Thursday fretting about the vote.

Uruguay hasn't legalized the marijuana market yet—that will require a vote in the Uruguayan Senate this fall—but the Vienna-based UN organs aren't waiting. Charged with enforcing the global drug prohibition regime, and its legal backbone, the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and successor treaties, the INCB and UNODC are raising the alarm about the apparent looming breach of the treaty.

"The INCB has noted with concern a draft law under consideration in Uruguay which, if adopted, would permit the sale of cannabis herb for non-medical use," INCB head Dr. Raymond Yans said in a statement. "Such a law would be in complete contravention to the provisions of the international drug control treaties, in particular the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, to which Uruguay is a party."

The INCB said it had always "aimed at maintaining a dialogue with the government of Uruguay" and complained that Montevideo wasn't paying attention to it. "The Board regrets that the government of Uruguay refused to receive an INCB mission before the draft law was submitted to parliament," Yans said.

The statement further urged Uruguayan leaders "to ensure that the country remains fully compliant with international law which limits the use of narcotic drugs, including cannabis, exclusively to medical and scientific purposes" and warned that legalization " might have serious consequences for the health and welfare of the population and for the prevention of cannabis abuse among the youth."

The UNODC, for its part, said in its statement that it supported the INCB statement and was continuing "to follow developments in Uruguay closely."

But, perhaps signaling a belated recognition that the global drug prohibition regime is increasingly tattered, the UNODC acknowledged that the results of enforcing drug prohibition, including "horrorific violence" related to black market drug trafficking have "led to a debate over best to address such problems."

UNODC said it "welcomes this discussion," but that "this dialogue should be conducted on the basis of the agreed conventions, in line with international law. It invited nations to talk about it all at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting next year.

In the meantime, Uruguay isn't waiting, and there is little the UN anti-drug agencies can do about except shout from their bully pulpits.


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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Tue 3rd Dec 2013 03:41 pm

Final Uruguay Marijuana Legalization Vote Set for Next Week

by Phillip Smith,
December 03, 2013

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According to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), which has an operative in Montevideo, the Uruguayan Senate will vote next week, most likely next Tuesday, on the pending bill to legalize marijuana commerce. The bill is expected to pass.

The bill is sponsored by the government and has already passed the House on a 50-46 vote in July. Once approved in the Senate, the government will have 120 days to write regulations before the law goes into effect.

Once the law goes into effect, Uruguay will have become the first country on the planet to break the global prohibitionist consensus embodied in the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and subsequent treaties when it comes to marijuana legalization.

The Dutch have long allowed limited retail sales, but they remain formally illegal, and the supply remains criminalized, and other countries have decriminalized possession, but not taken the next step. Two US states have taken the next step, but marijuana commerce remains illegal under federal law.

Under the bill, Uruguayan marijuana consumers will have choices. They will be able to grow their own individually (up to six plants) or collectively, they can buy it in pharmacies, or they can seek access as medical patients through the Ministry of Public Health.

Next week's vote will be the culmination of a process that began in June 2012, when President Jose Mujica included marijuana legalization as part of a comprehensive crime and public security package. In this case, the politicians were ahead of the public, and bill supporters took a year to educate the public and build support.

Supporters created a national TV ad campaign explaining the health and public safety benefits of legalization and formed a broad coalition, Regulación Responsable ("Responsible Regulation"), bringing together human rights, women's rights, health, student, environmental and other organizations, as well as prominent Uruguayans from across the social spectrum. The campaign appears to have paid off.

"It’s about time that we see a country bravely break with the failed prohibitionist model and try an innovative, more compassionate, and smarter approach. By approving this measure, Uruguay will represent a concrete advance in line with growing opposition to the drug war in Latin America and throughout the world," said Hannah Hetzer, DPA's Montevideo-based policy manager for the Americas.

Uruguay is an augur of change for the better, said DPA executive director Ethan Nadelmann.

"Last year, Colorado and Washington; this year, Uruguay; and next year, Oregon and hopefully more states as well," Nadelmann said. "We still have a long way to go but who would have believed, just five years ago, that legalizing marijuana would have become a mainstream political reality both in the United States and abroad?!"


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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Tue 3rd Dec 2013 03:44 pm

Press Release | 12/02/2013

Uruguay On Verge of Becoming First Country In World to Legalize Marijuana


Uruguayan Senate to Vote Next Week on President Mujica’s Bill to Tax and Regulate Marijuana


Next week, the Uruguayan Senate will vote on a bill that would make their country the first in the world to legally regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana for adults. The bill was approved in the House of Representatives in July with 50 out of 96 votes. The Senate vote will most likely take place on Tuesday, December 10. Once approved in Senate, Uruguay will have 120 days to write the regulations before implementing the law.

The marijuana legalization proposal was put forward by President José Mujica in June 2012 as part of a comprehensive package aimed at fighting crime and public insecurity. After a year and a half of studying the issue, engaging in political debate, redrafting the bill, and the emergence of a public campaign in favor of the proposal, Uruguay’s parliament is set to approve the measure this year.

“It’s about time that we see a country bravely break with the failed prohibitionist model and try an innovative, more compassionate, and smarter approach. By approving this measure, Uruguay will represent a concrete advance in line with growing opposition to the drug war in Latin America and throughout the world,” said Hannah Hetzer, who is based out of Montevideo, Uruguay, as the Policy Manager of the Americas for the Drug Policy Alliance.

The Uruguayan proposal has also gained attention abroad over the past year, as momentum has built throughout the U.S., Latin America and elsewhere for broad drug policy reforms. In November 2012, Colorado and Washington became the first political jurisdictions anywhere in the world to approve the legal regulation of marijuana. In August, the White House announced that the federal government will not interfere with state marijuana laws – as long as a number of stipulations are adhered to, such as preventing distribution to minors.

“Last year, Colorado and Washington; this year, Uruguay; and next year, Oregon and hopefully more states as well,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We still have a long way to go but who would have believed, just five years ago, that legalizing marijuana would have become a mainstream political reality both in the United States and abroad?!”

The Uruguayan bill allows four forms of access to marijuana: medical marijuana through the Ministry of Public Health, domestic cultivation of 6 plants, membership clubs similar to those found in Spain, and licensed sale in pharmacies. It also prohibits sales to minors, driving under the influence, and all forms of advertising.

In the year since Mujica’s announced his proposal, support for the initiative has risen among diverse sectors of Uruguayan society. A national TV ad campaign, featuring a mother, a doctor, and a lawyer explaining the measure's benefits on public safety and health – has reached hundreds of thousands of Uruguayans. Regulación Responsable (“Responsible Regulation”), the coalition of prominent Uruguayan organizations and individuals that support the initiative, has held events around the country, sparking debate at all levels. LGBT, women’s rights, health, student, environmental and human rights organizations have all united to support Regulación Responsable, alongside trade unions, doctors, musicians, lawyers, athletes, writers, actors and academics.

“This is a truly diverse movement comprised of people who believe that marijuana reform will benefit all of Uruguayan society,” said Hetzer.

In mid-July, the former president of Brazil and chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, publicly praised Uruguay in an op-ed published throughout the region. A week later, Uruguayan members of Congress received a letter of support signed by 65 Mexican legislators, congratulating their “leadership” in promoting “better drug policies and laws.” And the week before the House vote, these Uruguayan members of Congress received a second letter of support signed by more than 100 organizations worldwide, celebrating “the immense contribution and comprehensive proposal to deal with the implications that drugs have on health, development, security and human rights.”

In recent years, debate and political will for drug policy reform has gained unprecedented momentum in Latin America. In 2011, Kofi Annan, Paul Volcker and Richard Branson joined former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brazil), César Gaviria (Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (Mexico) and other distinguished members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy in saying the time had come to “break the taboo” on exploring alternatives to the failed war on drugs – and to “encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs,” especially marijuana.

More recently, current presidents Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia, Otto Perez Molina in Guatemala, and José Mujica in Uruguay have joined these calls for reform. In May, the Organization of American States produced a report, commissioned by heads of state of the region, that included marijuana legalization as a likely policy alternative. The OAS report predicted a likely hemispheric move towards marijuana legalization in the coming years.

Mujica and this growing chorus of current and former Latin American political leaders are contending that legal regulation will separate marijuana users from the offer of more dangerous drugs on the black market, allow access to medical marijuana for patients in need, and enable Uruguay to reinvest the millions of dollars now flowing into the pockets of drug traffickers into education, treatment and prevention of problematic drug use.

DPA

Contact: Tony Newman: 646-335-5384 or Hannah Hetzer: hhetzer@drugpolicy.org

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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by spidergawd » Wed 11th Dec 2013 01:50 am

Congratulations to Uraguay, they've done it. :D :D

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25328656

The dominoes are starting to tumble :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: 8) :idea:
What a long strange trip it is.

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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by 2stick » Wed 11th Dec 2013 06:59 am

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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by vinyl » Wed 11th Dec 2013 11:51 am

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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by Willjay » Wed 11th Dec 2013 01:24 pm

The times they are a changing
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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Wed 11th Dec 2013 02:03 pm

Uruguay Legalizes Marijuana! [FEATURE]

by Phillip Smith,
December 10, 2013

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The Uruguayan Senate voted Tuesday to approve a government-sponsored bill to legalize marijuana commerce. The Senate vote was the final vote needed for the bill to pass; all amendments to the bill were defeated previous to Tuesday's debate, so it now goes to the desk of President Jose Mujica, who supports it.

Once Mujica signs the bill into law, it will go into effect in 120 days.

The Broad Front coalition government headed by Mujica first introduced the plan to legalize marijuana a year and a half ago as part of a broader package of measures designed to reduce the crime and violence associated with the black market drug trade. After retooling in the face of significant opposition, the bill passed the lower chamber of Congress in July.

Uruguay now becomes the first signatory to the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to break with the UN on the issue of marijuana legalization. The Netherlands has turned a blind eye to small-scale retail sales for decades now, but such acts remain formally illegal so the Dutch can remain in formal compliance with the treaty.

Under the bill, the Uruguayan government will regulate the importation, cultivation, harvesting, distribution, and sale of marijuana. Would-be pot smokers will have to register with the government in order to grow their own (up to six plants), grow it collectively in a club, or buy up to 40 grams a month at a pharmacy.

The bill was not without opposition. During debate Tuesday, Colorado Party Sen. Alfredo Solari, a former health minister, warned that children and teens would be able to more easily obtain marijuana.

"The effects of this policy on public health will be terrible," he warned.

But Broad Front Sen. Roberto Conde retorted that easy access to marijuana is already the status quo.

"Marijuana is already established in Uruguay," he said. "It's a drug that is already seen as very low risk and enormously easy to get."

Opposition didn't just come from conservative lawmakers. Some marijuana users aren't very keen on the idea of having to register with the state in order to legally obtain their drug of choice.


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Uruguayan President Jose Mujica

But President Mujica and the Broad Front argued that the bill would weaken drug traffickers and help reduce the estimated $80 million a year the country spends fighting drugs and imprisoning traffickers. The estimated 128,000 Uruguayan pot smokers (user groups have a higher estimate of around 200,000) make up the largest illicit drug market in the country.

The government is vowing to entice consumers with marijuana that is both cheaper and of higher quality than that produced by the black market, most of which comes from Paraguay, which produces plentiful but low-grade crops.

"We are keeping in mind the prices on the black market, until we start to dismantle the functioning of the market," said Julio Calzada, secretary of the National Drug Board.

"This law will return us to the vanguard of Latin America," added Broad Front Sen. Constanza Moreira. "For many of us, today is a historic day. Many countries in Latin America, and many governments will take this law as an example."

Uruguay's move to legalize the marijuana business won accolades from drug reformers around the world. In an open letter organized by the International Drug Policy Consortium,114 civil society organizations from around the world welcomed the vote.

"The path taken by Uruguay establishes the basis for a new paradigm in drug policy," the groups said. "The organizations that have promoted these changes cannot ignore the efforts undertaken by the Uruguayan state. We will support Uruguay and every other state and jurisdiction as they seek to develop more sensible drug policies to tackle the problems related to health and security of their citizens, in full respect with international human rights treaties."

"It's about time that we see a country bravely break with the failed prohibitionist model and try an innovative, more compassionate, and smarter approach," said Hannah Hetzer, who is based out of Montevideo, Uruguay, as the policy manager for the Americas for the Drug Policy Alliance. "For 40 years, marijuana prohibition has been attempted and it simply hasn't worked. But rather than closing their eyes to the problem of drug abuse and drug trafficking, Uruguay has chosen responsible regulation of an existing reality. Let's hope others soon follow suit!"

"We applaud President Mujica and members of the Uruguayan General Assembly for their leadership on this important issue," said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. "Support for regulating marijuana and taking it out of the underground market is not only growing in the United States, but also internationally. It will not be long before more states and nations decide to end marijuana prohibition."

"Marijuana prohibition creates underground markets that generate billions of dollars in tax-free revenue for violent drug cartels and traffickers," Riffle said. "Regulating marijuana will allow authorities to control it and ensure profits are being used to benefit communities instead of criminals."

Uruguay has just punched a big hole in the edifice of global marijuana prohibition. Who is going to be next?


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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Thu 12th Dec 2013 12:15 am

Finally, a Nation Legalizes Pot

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December 10, 2013 - By Hannah Hetzer

Today, Uruguay became the first nation in the world to make recreational marijuana legal for adults, and to regulate its production, distribution and sale.

In the year and a half since President José Mujica announced the proposal in June 2012 as part of a comprehensive package aimed at fighting crime and public insecurity, a strong coalition of LGBT, women's rights, health, student, environmental and human rights organizations joined forces with trade unions, doctors, musicians, lawyers, athletes, writers, actors and academics under the banner of Regulación Responsable (Responsible Regulation) to support the initiative and created a lively public campaign in favor of the proposal.

People will have four ways to access marijuana: medical marijuana through the Ministry of Public Health, domestic cultivation of up to six plants, membership clubs similar to those found in Spain, and licensed sale to adults in pharmacies. The bill was approved in the House of Representatives in late July and passed today's Senate vote with 16 out of 29 votes.

Why marijuana, why now, and why Uruguay? The following three simple reasons have a lot to do with today's outcome:

Because it's the smart thing to do.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is insanity, and Uruguay knows this. For 40 years, marijuana prohibition simply hasn't worked. Billions of dollars have been spent on repression, but marijuana use has only gone up -- along with the number of lives lost to failed policies.

The tens of thousands who have died in Mexico's drug war -- estimates in 2012 ranged from 60,000 to 70,000 over six years -- Central America's globally high homicide rates, and the United States' racially driven mass incarceration are but a few examples of the human cost of the war on drugs. But rather than closing their eyes to the continuing problem of drug abuse and drug trafficking, Uruguay's leaders have chosen responsible regulation of an existing reality.

Because the winds are changing, and they're starting to blow in that direction.

In recent years, debate and political will for an overhaul in drug policy has gained unprecedented momentum throughout the U.S., Latin America and elsewhere.

In 2011, Kofi Annan, Paul Volcker and Richard Branson joined former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, César Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico and other distinguished members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy in saying the time had come to "break the taboo" on exploring alternatives to the failed war on drugs -- and to "encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs," especially marijuana.

More recently, Presidents Juan Manuel Santos in Colombia and Otto Perez Molina in Guatemala have joined these calls for reform. In May, the Organization of American States produced a report, commissioned by heads of state of the region, that included marijuana legalization as a likely policy alternative for the coming years.

In November 2012, the states of Colorado and Washington approved the legal regulation of marijuana. In August, the White House announced that the federal government will not interfere with state marijuana laws -- as long as a number of stipulations are adhered to, such as preventing distribution to minors.

By approving this measure, Uruguay has taken the broad regional discussion on alternatives to drug prohibition one step further, representing a concrete advance in line with growing anti-drug war rhetoric in Latin America and throughout the world.

Because Uruguay is used to doing exceptional things.

You might hear "Uruguay" and think of football, yerba mate, beef, tango or, now, marijuana. But this tiny country of just over 3 million people has a history of remarkable political reforms and a strong human rights ethos.

Just last year, Uruguay legalized same-sex marriage and abortion. It has long been at the helm of progressive policies, being one of the first nations in the region to grant divorce rights for women, in 1912; institute the eight-hour working day in 1915, and include women's right to vote in the Constitution in 1917. It has never criminalized prostitution and has legally regulated it since 2002. In 2009, Uruguay granted adoption rights for same-sex couples and the legal right to choose one's own gender identity.

This also comes from a country where the church and state have been officially separated since 1917.

It's a country where the president, 78-year old former Tupamaro guerrilla José Mujica, lives an austere lifestyle after having spent 14 years as a political prisoner, 10 of them in solitary confinement, during Uruguay's dictatorship. He donates 90% of his salary to charity, shuns the presidential palace and chooses instead to remain on his farm with his wife, also a former political prisoner, working to construct a more fair, more inclusive Uruguay.

The consensus is there. Marijuana prohibition hasn't worked and it's time to try an innovative, more compassionate, and smarter approach. Let's hope that more countries soon follow Uruguay's brave lead.


DPA
Hannah Hetzer, who is based out of Montevideo, Uruguay, is the Policy Manager of the Americas for the Drug Policy Alliance (http://www.drugpolicy.org).

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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Tue 17th Dec 2013 01:26 pm

Uruguay's Mujica, Wife in Diplomatic Spat with INCB

by Phillip Smith,
December 17, 2013

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Uruguayan President Mujica strikes back at critics, and so does his wife (gob.uy)

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has certainly gotten attention on the world stage since his country legalized marijuana commerce last week, and not all of it has been favorable. The United Nations bureaucrats charged with maintaining adherence to global drug prohibition have been quick to criticize, and now Mujica and his wife, Uruguayan Senator Lucio Topolansky, have fired back.

Two of the three UN drug control bureaucracies, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) came out with quick criticisms of the Uruguayan move, with UNODC head Yuri Fedotov calling the decision to legalize marijuana there "unfortunate" in a statement two days after the vote.

But it was the INCB that leveled the harshest criticisms, and it was the INCB that drew the barbed retorts from Montevideo's first couple.

"Uruguay is breaking international conventions on drug control with the cannabis legislation approved by its congress," the INCB complained in a press release last Wednesday. The INCB qualified itself as "surprised" that Uruguay had "knowingly decided to break the universally agreed and internationally endorsed legal provisions of the treaty."

In the statement under the signature of INCB head Raymond Yans, the INCB also "regrets that the government of Uruguay did not respond to INCB to engage in a dialogue prior to further consideration of the law."

"Tell that old man to stop lying," Mujica retorted in an interview Saturday with Uruguay’s Canal 4. "Let him come to Uruguay and meet me whenever he wishes… Anybody can meet and talk to me, and whoever says he couldn't meet with me tells lies, blatant lies. Because he sits in a comfortable international platform, he believes he can say whatever nonsense," he added.

Mujica also noted the INCB's relative quiescence before the legalization of marijuana in two US states and accused him of having double standards. "Does he have different rules: one for Uruguay and other for the world’s strong countries?” he asked pointedly.

Neither was Sen. Topolansky one to sit quietly by while her husband was under attack.

"Who is this fellow that likes to call names to countries?" she said of Yans. "I think he crossed the line, but anyhow, I believe that he has had problems with other countries, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, and they will be meeting him sometime in March."

Topolansky was presumably referring to recently leaked documents revealing deep divisions on what to do about drug policy among UN members, where a number of countries have asked that the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs be opened to discussion of paradigm-shifting reforms.

It's not as easy being the head of a UN anti-drug bureaucracy as it used to be.


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spidergawd
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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by spidergawd » Tue 17th Dec 2013 03:29 pm

referring to recently leaked documents revealing deep divisions on what to do about drug policy among UN members, where a number of countries have asked that the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs be opened to discussion of paradigm-shifting reforms.
Yes!!! It's seems like it's been a long road to get to the paradigm-shifting. :P :P :mrgreen:
It's not as easy being the head of a UN anti-drug bureaucracy as it used to be.
:roll: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
What a long strange trip it is.

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Re: Uruguay to Begin Debate on Legal Marijuana Sales

Post by notsofasteddie » Wed 25th Dec 2013 07:41 pm

Merry Christmas! Uruguay President Signs Marijuana Law

by Phillip Smith,
December 25, 2013

Image
President Jose "Santa" Mujica brings a Christmas gift to the world.


Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has signed into law legislation making Uruguay the first country to create a legal, state-regulated marijuana industry. Mujica quietly signed the bill Monday night, the Associated Press reported.


Presidential secretary Diego Canepa confirmed the signing Tuesday.The signing was the last formal step in a process that began a year and a half ago, when Mujica's government first bruited the idea of legalization as a means of combating crime related to the black market.

Government officials now have 120 days to craft regulations for the marijuana market. Those regulations will deal with everything from growing to selling it in a network of pharmacies, as well as establishing rules around collective grows. The world's first government-regulated marijuana marketplace should be up and running by mid-year next year.

But in the meantime, people can now begin growing their own marijuana at home--up to six plants per family--and keep an annual harvest of up to 480 grams (about one pound and one ounce).

Uruguay's neighbors are already beginning to take note. The governments of Argentina and Chile have already signaled that they will be taking new looks at marijuana policy in the wake of the Uruguayan move.


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