In a hope to combat the ever growing drug trade, the government of Uruguay is considering legalising and regulating the sale of marihuana. President Jose Mujica hopes the drastic shift in approaching the addicting trade will help control quality, safety, and amount while taking money out of the pockets of drug lords.
The government also hopes the potential law will encourage the use of marihuana in place of harsher and more addictive drugs like cocaine. The use of marihuana is already legal in the small country of 3.3 million where Mujica has described the drug war as “unwinnable.”
The announcement has met both praise and criticism across the world, specifically from the U.S. who has staunchly rejected all pushes from Latin American countries in the legalisation of marihuana before. The UN International Narcotics Control Board, which enforces the illegality of marihuana legalisation, is also at odds with Mujica’s government.
Here in Argentina, where the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use is being debated in Congress, the proposed law is also being met with varying reactions. The Argentina Independent hit the streets to find out why the response is so diverse.
Eduardo Viggiano, 60, Artisan, Almagro
At first I thought it wouldn’t help because people who are going to consume it will consume it no matter what. Especially those people who need it for medical reasons. However, now I believe it will help because it will make it easier for them. Right now [medical users] are not allowed to grow it in their house so they have to go through traffickers, which is a dirty business. It would be better if it was a national business instead of what it is right now, where the people who are dealing are not good people. Even here in Argentina a bunch of us have gotten together in Palermo to talk about the potential legalisation of marihuana and the benefits of it. I think government control would be good.
Ôlonia Castro, 51, Pharmacy Technician, Chile
I’m against it because my son has been addicted to marihuana for many many years and it did a lot of bad things to him. He crashed his car, he almost died because of it. For many years I tried to take him away from it but I didn’t know what to do. He’s 21 years old and he’s been into marihuana since he was 14. It will be really bad if people can just take it openly, there will be no restriction. I took my son to a rehabilitation centre for a year but after that he went back again, he said he loved it, he couldn’t live without it. He was born in the US but we recently moved to Chile to try to help him forget about it, about his friends, everything related to it. Now he’s finally getting better. So I am against it because for me there needs to be that restriction.
Johanna Lipartiti, 24, Artist, Capilla del Monte, Cordoba
I think it’s good because it is necessary. To smoke marihuana is a personal decision that doesn’t affect anything or anyone else. It is your decision whether or not to smoke it and it shouldn’t fall under this veil of criticism. It shouldn’t be seen as always being bad. Medically speaking it is also good. If people need to smoke marihuana to feel better then this will be good for them as well. I think we should have the same thing here in Argentina.
Tomás Valdés, 24, Professional Dancer, Santiago de Chile
I don’t think it will have much of an impact because legal or illegal people are going to consume it. As much as they want to control it and regulate it or even avoid it, people are still going to do it. Even if they legally start making it, it doesn’t matter;people who want to smoke marihuana are going to smoke marihuana whether or not it’s legal. The people . . . are going to consume it no matter what.
Federico Duarte, 21, Student, Palermo
I think that it is a good idea to make marihuana legal. They understand and realise that people are going to smoke it no matter what. Although this might create a rise in the production of marihuana I also think it will curb people because there will be controlled now. Either way, illegal or legal, people will consume it. This however, will calm things down and people will know that the conditions [of the marihuana] are good and they won’t imagine it as being that wrong. With time they will become a little more used to it and because it isn’t so wrong anymore it will drop. I also think it’s good because it creates clear limits and I think it is good to have these limits.