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Legal Marijuana Takes Root In Latin America


zachw
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Montevideo (AFP) - After Uruguay first moved to legalize marijuana in 2013, the approach has taken root in Latin America with several other countries now considering a revamp of their own drug laws. "Someone has to start in South America," Uruguayan President Jose Mujica said in late 2013 as he unveiled plans to make cannabis legal in his country.

Under Mujica, Uruguay became the first country in the world to fully legalize marijuana all the way from the cannabis field to the joint, setting up a regulated market for cultivation, sales and use.

 

Though marijuana is not yet being sold in pharmacies, the National Drug Council, or JND, already counts 1,300 of the country's 3.3 million inhabitants registered as self-producers. There are also six clubs of up to 45 consumers. Uruguay's neighbors are intrigued.

 

"Because Uruguay did it and has not yet suffered any massive negative consequence, either in terms of international relations, foreign policy, sanctions or domestic political repudiation, it's become an option for other countries to consider," John Walsh of the Washington Office on Latin America said. Pien Metaal of the Transnational Institute in Amsterdam agreed that "Uruguay has inspired many countries to at least take a few steps in that direction." "It is not possible to go back. The genie came out of the bottle and there is no way to get him back inside," she added.

 

In late October, Chile became the first in the region to grow cannabis for therapeutic uses, though the drug is still officially considered a narcotic. A bill under consideration seeks to decriminalize growing cannabis for personal uses.

 

In Colombia, parliament is debating a bill allowing medical use of the drug, with support from center-right President Juan Manuel Santos.

 

A bill backed by Argentine Secretary General to the Presidency Anibal Fernandez seeks to decriminalize marijuana cultivation for personal use, but the government overall is still opposed. Another bill seeks to decriminalize therapeutic consumption and uses of the drug.

 

In several countries in the region, marijuana possession for personal use is no longer subject to penalties.

 

Full article here.

Edited by zachw
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