The third smallest country in South America has become the first to legalize marijuana, not only on the continent but in the world.
The Uruguayan House passed the bill, 50-46, on July 31. The Senate ratified it, 16-13, on Dec. 10. "Someone has to be the first," says Pres. Jose Mujica, who proposed the legislation and will sign it into law.
The bill allows home cultivation (six plants). Those who don't grow their own will be able to buy marijuana at pharmacies (40 grams per month). Only Uruguayans will be able to purchase pot.
The countty's drug chief Julio Calzado predicts prices will be as low as $1 per gram. "The illegal market is very risky and of poor quality," he notes. "(We're) going to offer a safe place to buy quality product."
Ethan Nadelmann can hardly contain his excitement. "Sometimes small countries do great things," the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance explains. "Uruguay's bold move does more than follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington. It provides a model for legally regulating marijuana that other countries, and U.S. states, will want to consider - and a precedent that will embolden others to follow in their footsteps."