Uruguay Marijuana Bill Portends New Era in Drug Policy

Uruguay Marijuana Bill Portends New Era in Drug Policy

Earlier this month, Uruguay's House of Representatives passed a bill legalizing marijuana and regulating the production, distribution and sale of the drug by the government. While the bill has yet to be approved by the Uruguayan Senate, its passage is expected. Uruguay would then become the first country in the world where marijuana is fully regulated from cultivation to sale.

The move sends a clear message that the existing drug prohibition regime is no longer adequate to address contemporary drug problems. Uruguay’s unprecedented initiative followed a groundbreaking report by the Organization of American States (OAS) that included a devastating assessment of the drug prohibition regime and the “war on drugs,” legitimizing a regional rethink of drug policy. The initiative is also an important milestone ahead of the U.N. General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the world drug problem, which is set to take place in 2016.

The rationale behind Uruguay’s bill is that by pushing drug traffickers out of the business of marijuana sales, the measure will prevent increasing violence over turf and trafficking routes. At the same time, by providing products of greater quality as well as better access to medical care, the government will decrease the danger to the health of users and addicts.

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