The Uruguayan House of Representatives voted yesterday to approve a bill that would tax and regulate marijuana for adults. The measure will now move to the Senate where, if it passes as expected, will make Uruguay the first country in the world to create a fully legal and regulated marijuana market.
All 50 members of the ruling Broad Front coalition approved the measure yesterday after more than 13 hours of passionate debate. Lawmakers in the Senate have stated that they have achieved a comfortable majority in favor of the bill.
“Uruguay appears poised, in the weeks ahead, to become the first nation in modern times to create a legal, regulated framework for marijuana,” said John Walsh, a drug policy expert at the Washington Office on Latin America. “In doing so, Uruguay will be bravely taking a leading role in establishing and testing a compelling alternative to the prohibitionist paradigm.”
Legalizing marijuana has been a popular anti-drug trafficking strategy for some of Uruguay’s most prominent political figures. President José Mújica has been a staunch, long-time advocate for replacing marijuana prohibition with taxation and regulation.
If the bill passes, Uruguayans over the age of 18 would be allowed to buy a limited amount of marijuana per month from state-sanctioned distributors.
Predictably, the International Narcotics Control Board, which oversees United Nations drug policy, is not amused.