URUGUAY: The Uruguayan government has unveiled long-awaited regulations for its recreational marijuana market — a move that steers the tiny nation of 3.3 million people away from the prohibitionist war on drugs, with its disastrous consequences in Latin America, and toward a drug policy based on improving public health and security. Although Uruguay’s Congress approved the measure in December — becoming the first country in the world to legalize recreational pot use — it was just this week that the government of President José Mujica announced all the details.
The regulations allow three forms of access to marijuana. Uruguayans can purchase up to 40 grams per month – with a limit of 10 grams per week – from registered pharmacies. They can also choose to cultivate up to 6 homegrown plants, with a cap on annual production at 480 grams. Finally, as members of cannabis clubs, Uruguayans will be able to cultivate up to 99 plants per group, with a production cap of 480 grams per member. But smokers must choose one form of acquiring pot, and will be denied access to the drug by the other two means. The law officially takes effect on May 6, the government announced Friday.
The “experiment,” as Mujica has labeled the law, will be closely monitored throughout the hemisphere – from Mexico to Guatemala to Argentina – as a growing list of countries increasingly mull alternatives to a militarized drug policy that has seen governments outgunned by trafficking syndicates, who rake in billions of dollars annually through illicit sales.