President Jose Mujica has been busy defending his bill to regulate the marijuana market in Uruguay. First he asked the world to help him end marijuana prohibition, and now he is asking his country’s own politicians to understand the bill. As the bill approaches its final vote, which will be held in the full Uruguayan Senate, conservative opposition is calling for a referendum if the bill passes. Gerardo Amarilla, a member of the National Party and a conservative Member of Parliament has voiced his concern in interviews with media, stating that public opinion shows the bill is the wrong solution to the country’s drug problem. President Mujica has responded by explaining that the bill does not condone drug use, but seeks to monitor the market and protect Uruguayans.
We are not legalising cannabis,
We are regulating a market that already exists. We didn't invent this market, it already exists, today, here. We are trying to regulate and intervene in this market because trafficking is worse than drugs.
President Mujica’s Deputy Secretary, Diego Canepa, has made similar remarks explaining the policy.
We are convinced that to achieve our objectives, which is to fight addictions, the regulated marijuana market will give us help and logic that we are bringing to several issues. Does it mean that by creating a regulated market for marijuana, we are liberalising something? On the contrary, international experience suggests that a regulated market that is made visible has greater controls than prohibition. [MPP emphasis added]
The proposed bill is expected to pass the vote easily in the full Senate. Although some conservative leaders have called for a referendum after the bill’s passage, the chances of a successful referendum are small.