All 50 members of the governing Broad Front coalition approved the proposal in a party line vote just before midnight Wednesday, keeping a narrow majority of the 96 lawmakers present after more than 13 hours of passionate debate.
The President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, has been on a mission to deal with the rise in illegal drug trade and trafficking which has plagued the region.
An Institute for Regulation and Control of Cannabis would be created, with the power to grant licenses for all aspects of a legal industry to produce marijuana for recreational, medicinal or industrial use.
The government will purchase marijuana from licensed growers and distribute it to pharmacies, while private citizens will be permitted to grow the plant for personal use.
Uruguay is now at the forefront of globally reforming our ever costly, and perpetually failing archaic drug policies. If this endeavor succeeds, Uruguay will become the first nation that will allow its citizens to legally grow and consume marijuana for non-medical purposes.
The bill originally proposed that the marijuana should be solely produced by the state. However, the version of the bill that was approved enables the government to establish an institution which will grant licenses to private growers. The production of those private growers is going to be sold only through pharmacies to registered users.
“The government will control the whole chain of production, with quality and price controls from the grower to the pharmacies,” says Sebastián Sabini, the young congressman who drafted the final bill. “The law will go into force once it is approved by the Senate in the next couple of months,”
Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has said he hopes the legislation will neutralize drug-smuggling gangs in his country, adding: “We know we are embarking on a cutting-edge experiment for the whole world.”
Thankfully, it is becoming a more widely accepted and popular belief that individuals should be free to consume whatever they want to, as long as they are not harming any other person or another person’s property. A belief guided by the moral compass of individual liberty and non-aggression. Getting tougher on drug use has shown not to reduce recidivism or prevent drug use. Our drug policies are failing. Meanwhile more people are learning about the benefits of industrial hemp, and the consumption of marijuana.