Source: Reuters // Reuters
* Ruling party presents bill to legalize marijuana sales
* Government to control the market if law passes
By Malena Castaldi
MONTEVIDEO, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Uruguayans will be able to grow marijuana at home or in clubs, but the state will be in charge of the trade from cultivation to sale under a government-led legalization bill presented in Congress on Wednesday.
The use of cannabis and other drugs is already legal in Uruguay, one of Latin America’s safest countries and a trailblazer on liberal lawmaking, but the sale and cultivation of drugs is not.
President Jose Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla fighter, says the proposed law will help undermine smuggling gangs and fight petty crime in a region hit by drugs-related violence. Critics say it risks luring more Uruguayans to harder drugs.
“The idea is to grant licenses for production, distribution, storage and for retail. We haven’t said whether that will be done by the private or public sector, the government will decide that,” said Sebastian Sabini, a ruling party lawmaker who heads a congressional committee on drugs and addiction.
The bill, which the government hopes will become law early next year, says the state will be responsible for managing and regulating the marijuana trade from cultivation to distribution.
Mujica’s allies control both houses of Congress so the bill is expected to pass despite resistance from opposition legislators. It would give Uruguay some of the world’s most permissive legislation on drugs.