- REUTERS/Enrique Marcarian
Uruguay's marijuana legalization plan was proposed by the country's president, Jose Mujica. If passed, it would make the South American nation the very first government to begin selling pot directly.
The Uruguay marijuana legalization move was the brainchild of President Mujica and his party, which dominates the country's Congress. Currently, it has not yet been presented, but the leader told Colombia's RCN radio that the "unwinnable" drug war and its policies had to change.
"The traditional [interdiction] approach hasn't worked," he was quoted by Time magazine.
Although marijuana use is already legal in the small country of 3.3 million, Mujica's bold plan aims to take the $750 million in annual profits out of the hands of black market dealers, who often sell other narcotics. Through the legalization plan, the government would become the sole seller of pot to the public.
Legalization would also mean cheaper prices for the drugs, and regulations for quality, safety, and the amount of marijuana users can buy. Perhaps more importantly for Mujica, the steadily increasing costs of drug incarceration- he alleged them to be a bigger problem "than the drugs themselves,"- could be lowered in the face of fiscal uncertainty.
"Someone has to be the first" to try a different strategy to tackle the drug crisis, said Mujica.
The plan also calls for marijuana legalization to be considered in other countries around the world- a move that no doubt angers the U.S., who has staunchly rejected Latin American pushes for legalization. America spends about $8 billion a year confiscating marijuana and arresting users and sellers. However, the U.S. is still the largest consumer of pot worldwide, to the tune of $65 billion.
Mujica's marijuana legalization idea is also at odds with the U.N. International Narcotics Control Board, which enforces the illegality of marijuana legalization as well.
The Uruguay president has not yet revealed when the plan will be presented to his country's Congress.