Uruguay government says it plans to sell marijuana to registered users
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Uruguay has announced that it plans to send a bill to Congress to legalize marijuana sales as a crime-fighting measure.
The government would have a monopoly over the distribution and sales of the drug, which could be sold only to adults registered as users.
Minister of Defense Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro told reporters at a press conference in Montevideo the measure aims to weaken crime in the country by removing profits from drug dealers and diverting users from harder drugs.
Uruguayan newspapers had reported that money from taxes on marijuana cigarettes sold by the government will go toward rehabilitating drug addicts. The government did not provide details.
There are no laws against marijuana use in Uruguay. Possession of the drug for personal use has never been criminalized.
Is Uruguay About To Become The First Country To Legalize Cannabis?
by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director
Ironically, around 4:20pm (eastern) today, the phones lit up at NORML with numerous newswire services and major media outlets contacting the organization about a bill in Uruguay that appears to be on greased tracks to pass in the legislature and signed into law by President Jose Mujica as the government itself is proffering the reform legislation.
If Uruguay moves forward, the country will become the first since the signing of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in 1961 that has moved forward with a tax-n-regulate policy for non-medical access to cannabis products. The country previously decriminalized cannabis possession in the 1970s.
Two other immediate positive consequences are likely for Uruguay with legalized cannabis:
1) Tourism! Like worldwide tourism!! I’m already looking in Uruguay for good fly fishing areas on Google Maps and buffing up on my Espanol…move over Amsterdam and Jamaica.
2.) Scientific and medical research regarding the remarkable therapeutic qualities of cannabis, along with unfettered research and commercialization of industrial hemp, can find a home in a country where the country’s leaders have the foresight to embrace the myriad of cannabis commerce, rather than waste valuable taxpayers’ dollars on trying to enforce feckless and unenforceable Cannabis Prohibition laws in otherwise freedom-loving, free market-oriented countries.
President ‘Choom Gang‘ Obama, the next time the long festering public policy matter of Cannabis Prohibition is raised in your presence, rather than uncomfortably laugh it off as an unserious policy unworthy of both your attention and want to reform, consider contacting Uruguay President Jose Mujica.
Uruguay government aims to legalise marijuana
Uruguay has unveiled a plan to allow state-controlled sales of marijuana to fight a rise in drug-related crime.
Under the bill, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana to adults registered on a database.
Defence Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro said this was part of a plan to remove profits from drug dealers and divert users from harder drugs.
He said that the recent increase in murder rates was a clear symptom of a rise in drug trafficking crimes.
“We believe that the prohibition of certain drugs is creating more problems for society than the drugs themselves… with disastrous consequences,” Mr Fernandez Huidobro said, presenting the bill.
“Homicides related to settling scores have increased, and that’s a clear sign that certain phenomena are appearing in Uruguay that didn’t exist before,” he said.
The authorities blame the rise in crime in Uruguay on hard drugs, specifically crack cocaine.
The new bill envisages that some shops would be allowed to sell marijuana cigarettes at a price fixed by the authorities.
The government also wants to create a user database to supervise consumption.
BBC regional correspondent Vladimir Hernandez says the move is seen as groundbreaking in South America.
Several Central American leaders – including the presidents of Guatemala and Costa Rica – have spoken of the need to consider decriminalising some drugs in an attempt to undermine cartels.
In Uruguay alone, the illegal marijuana market is estimated to be worth about $75m (£48m) a year.
But the new bill has already proved controversial, and the debate in Congress could take several months, our correspondent says.
David Nutt: alcohol consumption would fall 25% if cannabis cafes were allowed
Former chairman of drugs advisory committee tells MPs Dutch-style ‘coffee shops’ would make people drink less
A former government adviser on drugs has told MPs that alcohol consumption would fall by as much as 25% if Dutch-style cannabis “coffee shops” were introduced in Britain.
Prof David Nutt also told the Commons home affairs committee that he stood by his claim that horse-riding was more dangerous than taking ecstasy, despite the fact that the comparison triggered his sacking as chairman of the advisory committee on the misuse of drugs (ACMD).
Nutt told MPs the cost of policing cannabis use was only £500m a year, mainly for issuing possession warning notices, compared with the £6bn a year bill for policing the use of alcohol, including dealing with people who were drunk and disorderly.
His call for the decriminalisation of the use of all drugs was backed by a second former government drug adviser, Prof Lesley King, who told MPs that most people who took ecstasy did so without harming themselves or inflicting wider harms on society.
The two former government drug advisers were giving evidence to the Commons home affairs select committee’s inquiry into drugs policy.
Nutt defended his controversial horse-riding comparison, saying the costs to the NHS of injuries of riders who had fallen from their horses were little realised. Nor was it appreciated that riders who lost control of their horses on the roads were the cause of more than 100 serious accidents every year.
“Horse-riding is considerably more dangerous than taking ecstasy,” said Nutt. “It is a popular activity, dangerous but addictive. I am told that many riders find it difficult to give up.”
Nutt was using the example to illustrate his argument that the classification of different illegal drugs was often completely unrelated to the relative harm that their use caused society. He said politics rather than science had dominated drug policy in Britain over the 40 years since the Misuse of Drugs Act was passed in 1971. Only one drug – cannabis – had ever been downgraded and that was quickly reversed against the advice of the ACMD.
Nutt said the decision by the home secretary to classify magic mushrooms as a class A drug alongside heroin and crack cocaine was “the final nail in the rationality of the 1971 Drugs Act”.
Nutt has argued that the harmful impact of removing criminal sanctions on cannabis use would be relatively modest unless it was as actively marketed as alcohol, since almost half of young people already used the drug. He said he had argued in a Lancet paper that alcohol was the most harmful drug in Britain largely because of its frightening contribution to domestic violence, child abuse and road traffic accidents.
“A regulated market for illicit drugs would be the best way and we could reduce alcohol consumption by as much as 25% if we had the Dutch model of cannabis cafes,” said Nutt, adding that he believed the police would rather deal with people who were stoned than drunk.
“The drugs trade is the second biggest international trade in the world, after oil, and it is completely unregulated … It is impossible to win the war on drugs.”
Nutt’s remarks were immediately criticised by Tory MPs on the committee who said the idea that horse-riding and taking ecstasy were “morally equivalent” was irresponsible. Mario Dunn, Alan Johnson’s special adviser who was involved in the decision to sack Nutt, also observed that his remarks proved that “no responsible government would have David Nutt as a drugs adviser”.
Prof Les Iversen, who replaced Nutt as chairman of the advisory committee, also distanced himself from the sacked scientist. However, he did tell MPs that the committee wanted to see far fewer young people facing criminal penalties for cannabis possession and their diversion away from the criminal justice system.