[QODLink]
Americas
Uruguay plans to legalise marijuana sale
Bill framed to legalise production and sale of drug, whose consumption is already legal in the South American country.
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2012 11:59
Uruguay also wants marijuana sales be legalised worldwide to discourage use of "hard drugs" [File photo: Reuters]

Uruguay is set to introduce legislation allowing the state to sell and distribute marijuana, a first in Latin America.

The measure was one of 15 measures to fight crime presented by President Jose Mujica's administration.

The goal was for "strict state control over the distribution and production" of cannabis, said Defence Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro.

The government will also urge that marijuana sales be legalised worldwide, Huidobro said, adding the measure could discourage the use of so-called hard drugs.

Marijuana consumption is already legal in Uruguay.

"We want to fight against two different things: one is drug consumption and the other is drug trafficking. We think the ban on certain drugs is creating more problems in society than the drug itself," the minister told a news conference.

"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 bill would legalise and set rules for the production and sale of marijuana but would not allow people to grow the plant for their own personal use.

The proposals also include increased prison time for cases of police corruption, and tougher sentences for criminal youths.

The government did not however give details on how the new system would work.

In Uruguay about $75m changes hands each year in the illegal marijuana trade, according to official estimates.

As of last year, 20 per cent of people between 15 and 65 years old reported they had smoked marijuana at least once and about 5 per cent of respondents were habitual users.

A government survey puts the percentage of the population that consumed marijuana over the last year at 8.3 per cent, compared to one per cent who consumed cocaine in the same time.

The proposal to legalise the marijuana market is one of 15 crime-fighting measures that include tougher penalties for police corruption, crack-cocaine trafficking and juvenile offenders.

335

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
Part of the joint accord aimed at ending the political impasse establishes an independent National Election Commission.
Rights groups say the US prosecution of terrorism cases targets Muslims and are fraught with abuses.
Local painters forgo experimentation to cater to growing number of foreign buyers.
join our mailing list