International Cannabis Business Conference

On Uruguay and Marijuana Law Reform

Uruguay

Uruguay stands on the brink of becoming the very first country on the planet to officially cultivate and sell marijuana.

Having borne the brunt of extreme anti-drug related warfare and corruption for decades, Uruguay has declared peace in the War on Some Drugs. The new law, passed by the Senate on Dec. 10, allows citizens to grow up to six marijuana plants, form cultivation collectives and purchase government-produced pot (40 grams a month) from pharmancies, the Uruguayan government hopes to make it an effective and lasting peace. In July, Uruguay’s House approved the legislation. It's expected to be signed into law by Pres. Jose Mujica.

The focus of this move is to end the murderous stranglehold criminal drug cartels (and corrupt law enforcement and official government intelligence organizations) currently hold on the black market drug trade, a situation engendered entirely through the implementation and continuance of prohibition. Even with the decriminalization of personal use in Uruguay already in place, it’s the cartels who mainly control the trade. There is the further aim of cutting marijuana purchasers off from unscrupulous dealers who often attempt to sell narcotics in lieu of pot. The Uruguayan government is by far more concerned about the use and abuse of coca paste than marijuana use, not to mention horrific drug trade violence. Citing figures that for every 10 deaths from overdose there are a hundred murders and deaths of civilians by both drug traffickers and prohibitionist police alike waging the War on Some Drugs, Pres. Mujica said, “The worst thing of all is that it never ends! How many keep falling? And drugs are still out there. Why? Because the profits are enormous!”

Serious reform of drug laws and policies is no longer a mere pipe dream of hippies and stoners, as Uruguay’s action - together with the legalization of marijuana for adults by Colorado and Washington States in 2012, the 20 U.S. states that have legalized medical marijuana use, and numerous countries’ moves to reform drug laws, such as Portugal’s successful 11-year policy of total decriminalization of all drugs - clearly show. While the fight to end prohibition continues, this is but one more step in the steady advance towards that once unimaginable goal.

Despite the ongoing manufactured and commercially influenced anti-drug hysteria inherent in the U.S.-lead War on Some Drugs, citizenry around the world, along with many of their representative governments, are truly beginning to shake off the lethargy of decades past to take the bull by the horns and say, enough is enough! Still, while those on the reform side of this issue clearly see the extremely obvious social and financial benefits from legalizing or decriminalizing, and regulating currently illicit, and thereby highly profitable, drug trades both locally and globally, the War on Some Drugs marchers on nonetheless.

There are those for whom waging this war is an astonishingly lucrative business, not to mention the perfect mechanism for insuring implementation and normalization of structures for social control and dominance. Even though 52% of U.S. citizens now think marijuana should be legalized, there are those in the government and big business who still lobby endlessly against even the smallest steps towards any sort of reform.

Drug war reform, certainly regarding marijuana, suddenly seems a real possibility, and not just by crusty High Times readers and followers of Phish and the Grateful Dead. The trickle of common sense is becoming a torrent, as more and more peoples’ lives are directly affected by increasingly expensive and intentionally ineffective anti-drug policies. Be vigilant, as the prohibitionists really are waging war and will try to keep it going for as long as possible. Yet also take heart in the reforms that have already been successfully accomplished, such as in one tiny but brave South American country.

Preston Peet

Preston Peet

Editor of "Under the Influence, the Disinformation Guide to Drugs," former editor of DrugWar.com, and writer of numerous articles around the globe.