Uruguay MPs back marijuana legalisation bill

 
Supporters of the bill camp outside parliament in Montevideo Those supporting the bill want it passed quickly

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Members of Uruguay's House of Representatives have passed a bill to legalise marijuana.

If it goes on to be approved by the Senate, Uruguay will become the first country to regulate the production, distribution and sale of marijuana.

The measure is backed by the government of President Jose Mujica, who says it will remove profits from drug dealers and divert users from harder drugs.

Under the bill, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana.

The state would assume "the control and regulation of the importation, exportation, plantation, cultivation, the harvest, the production, the acquisition, the storage, the commercialisation and the distribution of cannabis and its by-products".

Buyers would have to be registered on a database and be over the age of 18. They would be able to buy up to 40g (1.4oz) per month in specially licensed pharmacies or grow up to six plants at home.

Foreigners would be excluded from the measure.

Political tussle

The bill was approved by 50 of the 96 MPs present in the lower house following a fierce 13-hour debate in the capital, Montevideo.

The supporters of the measure argued that the fight against drugs and drug trafficking had failed, and the country needed "new alternatives".

"The regulation is not to promote consumption; consumption already exists," said Sebastian Sabini of the governing centre-left Frente Amplio (Broad Front) coalition, which has a majority of one in the lower house.

Analysis

If approved by the Senate as expected, this will become a groundbreaking law, but not only for Uruguay. For decades, drug trafficking has caused thousands of deaths throughout Latin America in countries like Mexico or Colombia.

Legalisation has long been taboo for governments who aligned with the US anti drug policy, heavily dependent on law enforcement and prohibition.

This is still considered the orthodox approach and it is supported by conservatives and the Catholic Church.

But more and more leaders, like Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina and former Mexican president Vicente Fox, are asking to discuss decriminalising some drugs in an attempt to undermine the cartels.

Marijuana use has reportedly doubled in Uruguay over the past year. An estimated 22 tonnes of marijuana are being sold in the country annually, according to Uruguay's National Drugs Committee.

But Gerardo Amarilla of the opposition National Party said the government was "playing with fire" given the health risks he said were linked to marijuana use.

All eyes were on Dario Perez, a member of the governing coalition but a strong opponent of the bill, whose vote could have scuppered the bill.

During his 20-minute speech, Mr Perez reiterated his belief that the issue should be put to a referendum and not have been "imposed" by the government.

But to applause by supporters of the bill in the public gallery, he finally concluded that as long as he was a member of the coalition, he would vote with it, despite his personal misgivings.

The bill is now expected to be approved by the Senate, where the left-wing government has a bigger majority.

But opposition politicians said that even if the law made it through the senate, they would launch a petition to have it overturned.

A survey carried out before the vote by polling organisation Cifra suggested 63% of Uruguayans opposed the bill.

Papal opposition

The progress of the bill is being watched closely across the region, says BBC Mundo correspondent in the region Ignacio de los Reyes.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica on a visit to Cuba on 25 July 2013 President Jose Mujica says he has never tried marijuana but believes it should be legalised

For decades, drug trafficking has caused tens of thousands of deaths throughout Latin America.

Uruguay may have not experienced the bloodshed caused by drug trafficking, but the proposal could be seen as a test for violence-torn nations looking for an end to their drug wars, our correspondent adds.

The vote also comes just days after Pope Francis criticised drug legalisation plans during a visit to neighbouring Brazil.

The pontiff said it was "necessary to tackle the problems which are at the root of drug abuse, promoting more justice, educating the youth with the values that live in society, standing by those who face hardship and giving them hope for the future".

 

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  • Comment number 980.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 979.

    977. Saro-Wiwa
    17 MINUTES AGO
    Swings and pendulums in babylon http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23543938

    You do know that it's probably closer to 2 out of every 5? that's a conservative estimate, since people aren't going to admit it to confused.com since they get their insurance through there and are worried they'll pay for admitting it somehow.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 978.

    @958 CURTAINS 2012 - "Demonstrably you don't care about her health, but the reason for her degradation matters a lot as it shows up the myth pedalled by the pot pushers."

    No, it doesn't matter at all, and no, I do not care for the health of a single, most likely fictional, individual over and above the crime and death caused by keeping this stuff illegal.

    One anecdote is worthless, sorry.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 977.

    Swings and pendulums in babylon http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23543938

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 976.

    975.ResCyn
    Just now
    974. CURTAINS 2012
    Sorry, I assumed you had a credible source rather than the poster below who wouldn't have been taken seriously by anybody with rational thought since they were using hyperbole.



    +++

    Clearly another exmple of the mind expanding effects of whacky baccy on its suckers. They don't do truth. Sleep tight.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 975.

    974. CURTAINS 2012
    Sorry, I assumed you had a credible source rather than the poster below who wouldn't have been taken seriously by anybody with rational thought since they were using hyperbole. Showing yourself up again. Keep it up as I'd like the typical examples of your posts in this thread to influence people's opinions of your future ones on HYS. Last post from me anyway. Goodnight.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 974.

    973.ResCyn
    1 Minute ago
    970. CURTAINS 2012
    We were told his by whom?

    +++

    I've already identified the source. You really aren't paying attention are you.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 973.

    970. CURTAINS 2012
    We were told his by whom? That was also argument was it not? You're just going to throw it away now I've shown you the science around lethality doesn't support you? Happily this topic will be locked by morning & your usual ignorance & denigration will be preserved near the top. Or the dear readers could sort by rating & see who the general public agree with out of the two of us

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 972.

    Have you actually tried both? rather than trusting others opinions.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 971.

    People who use and support the use of this drug are self deluded. They want others to believe their dope dwams and convince others it's a good thing.
    How very sad.
    Most guys use it as a masturbation aid to get off on fantasy, mostly used by sex addicts to blank out reality.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 970.

    968.ResCyn
    1 Minute ago
    966. CURTAINS
    Assuming for a moment you get through 3kg in an evening, you'd be heavily stoned & then wake up fine. You try the equivalent amount of alcohol & tell me if you fancy a fry up first thing.


    +++

    We've been told that 10g of alcohol is more harmful as 1kg of cannabis, so don't waste time equating the masses.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 969.

    @967. Wideboy
    1 MINUTE AGO
    I don't need drugs to make me feel great
    I am great!

    --

    That's great and all, but it does raise some questions such as; would you deny a person a wheel chair because, well, you can walk, so what do their needs matter? Would you deny someone water because you have a bottle of water? Would you deny a starving person food because you aren't feeling hungry?

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 968.

    966. CURTAINS
    Aside from the fact it succinctly shows your complete ignorance of the subject matter, which in turn essentially invalidates your opinion. Assuming for a moment you get through 3kg in an evening, you'd be heavily stoned & then wake up fine. You try the equivalent amount of alcohol & tell me if you fancy a fry up first thing.

    http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/mj_overdose.htm

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 967.

    I don't need drugs to make me feel great


    I am great!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 966.

    962.ResCyn
    3 Minutes ago
    955. CURTAINS 2012
    Ugh, supposed to have called it quits but couldn't not contest this one. You realise 3kg is about £20,000 worth of cannabis at current street value don't you?

    +++

    The cost is immaterial, my point about the falsely claimed 100:1 ratio in the harmful natures of alcohol and cannabis still stands.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 965.

    @962. ResCyn
    4 MINUTES AGO
    955. CURTAINS 2012
    You realise 3kg is about £20,000 worth of cannabis at current street value


    There's some price disparity going on here, as I'd put 3kg at closer to £30,000 at the prices I am aware of. Depending on exactly what strain and the quality of the product you could up that to £60,000 if supplies in the locality are short and you are the only one selling

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 964.

    I wonder how many cigarette smokers and beer drinkers are against this and why.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 963.

    Who ever says cannabis is less harmful than smoking is wrong and has not seen the evidence.

    Cannabis has a much higher oil content,it also significantly reduces testosterone levels in men. Generally speaking it makes you lazy and bad short term memory. Sorry what was I saying?

    Possibly you can't chain smoke joints so the consumption is less.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 962.

    955. CURTAINS 2012
    Ugh, supposed to have called it quits but couldn't not contest this one. You realise 3kg is about £20,000 worth of cannabis at current street value don't you? Of course you don't because you've shown you have no idea what you're pontificating about many times throughout the discussion. As always, I shall look forward to your reasoned, balanced comments across future HYSs...

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 961.

    :) least with weed if you make a good choice of dealer you're not buying drugs that have been through the hands of the CIA and it's associates.
    The global trade in heroin, cocaine, and many other harder have both been in part operated by the CIA and it's associates and probably still are today. Buy locally grown weed, grown by people you know and trust. Don't be a slave to drugs gangs(governments)

 

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