Uruguay Set To Legalize Marijuana

URUGUAY:  Juan Andres Palese says he’s a frustrated entrepreneur. His business, the sale of products for growing and processing marijuana, has always been in a legal limbo in Uruguay, his country. Legally speaking, it’s a complicated and risky situation. Selling accessories for the cultivation of cannabis is legal, but the production, sale and distribution of marijuana are not.

“It would be fantastic,” Palese says, “if we could also have access to the market of consumers.”

The dream of the Montevideo resident is about to come true.

The Uruguayan Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a controversial bill that would make the small South American country the first in Latin America to legalize marijuana.

The bill was approved by the lower house of parliament in July with 50 out of 96 votes. It also has the support of President Jose Mujica. The bill has generated international headlines because, if approved, the Uruguayan government would have the authority to regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana. The legislation also has the support of the Broad Front, Mujica’s party. Approval is widely expected.

“More than anything, it’s going to give me peace about growing what I like, which is marijuana. That’s what I like to consume. It would give me the peace of mind of not having legal troubles for something that should not be illegal,” Palese says.

The bill rests on the premise that if “the state assumes the control and regulation of the activities of importation and exportation, sowing, growing, harvesting, producing … storing, commercializing and distributing,” then the ills of drug trafficking would be greatly reduced and the quality of the plants improved, benefiting patients and putting drug traffickers out of business.

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