URUGUAY: Editor’s note: Hannah Hetzer, who is based in Montevideo, Uruguay, is the policy manager of the Americas for the Drug Policy Alliance.
(CNN) — Today, Uruguay became the first nation to make recreational marijuana legal for adults and to regulate its production, distribution and sale.
In the year and a half since President Jose 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 Regulacion 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 Chamber of Deputies in late July and passed in the Chamber of Senators today with 16 out of 29 votes.