After 13 hours of debate, Uruguay’s Chamber of Deputies approved a law to legalise the growing and use of marijuana in the early hours of this morning, with 50 of 96 members voting to approve the measure. A Senate vote is planned on the measure, which would be the final hurdle for the law to be implemented.
The law project has been led by Uruguay’s president José Mujica and his party Frente Amplio (FA).
Mujica said: “I have never smoked a joint, but I realise how life is for teenagers, who consume. This is what has engendered a mafia-controlled clandestine market, and its cruel rules.”
Sebastian Sabini, one of the instigators of the law, added: “Prohibition is not the answer to the problems drugs generate.”
However, the opposition rejected the project, with parliament member Richard Sander stating that the proposition was not good for the youth and that what they need is the “chance to study, to work, to have a family, not to get marijuana”.
If the law project is approved by the Senate, adults citizens living in Uruguay will be able to get licenses to grow cannabis – a maximum of six plants per person and 480 grams per harvest in a year – or to buy marijuana in special pharmacies – with a limit of 40 grams per month. Growing cannabis will also be allowed in clubs of between 15 and 45 members, with a maximum of 99 plants.
Those wanting to buy or grow cannabis – also for medical or scientific use – will have to be registered in pharmacies. The information will remain secret and will be administrated by the Institute for Cannabis Regulation and Control that will be created to regulate the consumption and selling of marihuana. The institute will not be in charge of the production or commercialization of the drug.
Publicity promoting cannabis will be prohibited and every unauthorised plantation will be destroyed. There will also be media campaigns educating about the dangers of drugs.
The UN’s International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has stated that if this law approved by the Senate, it will be a “complete infraction” to the international agreements on drugs. As Uruguay is part of these agreements, the INCB asked the government to consider “all the possible consequences before making a decision”.
However, Mujica remains firm to his convictions, stating: ”I will not give up. No one thinks that in this law will be written ‘hail to LSD’, and no one thinks either that it will promote drug consumption. I will not abandon this campaign as long as I am president, even though most people do not understand me.”