Uruguayan Government May Sell Marijuana in Proposed Legalization System

Members of the Uruguayan government said last Wednesday they plan to introduce a bill that would allow the government to sell marijuana. Only the government would be allowed to sell it, and only to registered users.

Barrio Sur, Montevideo, Uruguay (wikimedia.org)
According to the Associated Press, government officials told reporters in Montevideo that the move is aimed at weakening crime in the country by taking profits away from drug dealers and keeping marijuana users from going to dealers who peddle other, harder drugs.

"We're shifting toward a stricter state control of the distribution and production of this drug," said Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro. "It's a fight on both fronts: against consumption and drug trafficking. We think the prohibition of some drugs is creating more problems to society than the drug itself."

Possession of marijuana has never been a criminal offense in Uruguay, but its illicit sale has benefited criminals.

Some Uruguayan media reports said that money from marijuana sales would go to drug rehabilitation, while others said people who purchased too much marijuana would have to undergo treatment. But the government spokesman did not address those issues.

Some Uruguayans have expressed skepticism about buying their weed from the government.

"People who consume are not going to buy it from the state," said Natalia Pereira, 28, adding that she smokes marijuana occasionally. "They're going to be mistrust buying it from a place where you have to register and they can typecast you."

"The main argument for this is to keep addicts from dealing and reaching (crack-like) substances" such as base paste, said Juan Carlos Redin a psychologist who works with drug addicts in Montevideo. "Some studies conclude that a large number of base paste consumers first looked for milder drugs like marijuana and ended with freebase," he told the AP.

But other drug rehabilitation experts booed the idea. Guillermo Castro, head of psychiatry at the Hospital Britanico in Montevideo told the AP marijuana is a gateway to stronger drugs.

"In the long-run, marijuana is still poison," Castro said.  "If it's going to be openly legalized, something that is now in the hands of politics, it's important that they explain to people what it is and what it produces," he said. "I think it would much more effective to educate people about drugs instead of legalizing them."

If Uruguay were to move forward with government pot sales, it would be in line with the reformist trend percolating across Latin America. Tired of years of violence and prisons stuffed with drug offenders, governments in the region have moved away from "drug war" policies and are embracing a more tolerant approach.

In fact, it was then Uruguayan President Jorge Batlle who became the first sitting head of state to advocate drug legalization back in 2000. Batlle was a member of the long-ruling Colorado Party, but the current government, headed by President Jose Mujica, is the left-leaning Broad Front.

Montevideo
Uruguay
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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here's an interesting comment from the President of Uruguay

"I do not have the moral authority to stop the children from cultivating [marijuana] if I have smoked tobacco all of my life. Am I going to be an old conservative?"

It should be needless to say that people who use killer alcohol have the same zero level of moral authority to stop others from using cannabis.

Go for it, Uruguay, don't let the alcohol and tobacco supremacist bigots intimidate you.

This is likely the start of a

This is likely the start of a much bigger move.  I find it interesting that Latin America just recently met with the US and expressed an interest in legalization and ending the US style drug war.  I think it was the president of Brazil or something, a big country. that said that they would like to do it.  But can't be first.  Uruguay is sort of the Switzerland of South America, the perfect place to kick off the experiment.

As good as it sounds at first to legalize, this particular Uruguayan plan is destined to fail.  And the main reason being just as the article points out with the comment from the young person, "People who consume are not going to buy it from the state."  This model will not get rid of the black market, it will increase it.  The only way that this "government only" plan will work if the product is high quality, diverse and very, very CHEAP.  The government would have to send the price of marijuana down to the equivalent of $15-$25 dollars an ounce to drive out the already established, and open, black market.  In this plan the government would still be in a drug war over government vs black market marijuana.

And government cutting people off, and sending them to rehab, if they are buying too much marijuana?  What if people want to cook with it for medical reasons?  They would be buying a lot more marijuana than the occasional smoker who takes a few puffs off a joint passed among friends.  This plan treats marijuana as a nasty thing, but now going to be compassionate to drug users by selling them packs of cigarettes; instead of treating marijuana as a new commodity like a vegetable or a fruit that is as dangerous as perhaps alcohol or tobacco that is sold everywhere, but with regulations.

Uruguayan Proposal Designed as a Crime Fighting Measure

Uruguay’s Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro says he wants to use the proposal to reduce the consumption of addictive coca derivatives:

We want to fight two different things: one is the consumption of drugs and the other is the trafficking of drugs,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

“We believe that the prohibition of certain drugs is creating more problems in society than the drug itself. Murders have risen as a result of the settling of accounts [between rival drug dealers] and this is a clear symptom of the appearance of certain phenomena that did not exist previously in Uruguay.”

Like most commodities, the retail price of weed in Uruguay will reflect the cost of making it available.  Raw materials costs usually account for only 1/5 to 1/7 the cost of an item, the rest of the retail price going for packaging and distribution with a margin left over for profit.  Tourists and residents will pay the extra money required to shop for marijuana in a clean, well-structured environment, with the assurance that the product will be consistent in quality like any other regulated, store-bought item. 

People have always paid more for easy access to a product from sellers that can be trusted to stand behind the product.  This behavior will assure a successful, legal market for weed Uruguay, similar to what’s found in Amsterdam coffee-shops.  Convenience stores in the U.S. are based on this marketing principle, where the convenience of access is factored into a higher price for goods.

Giordano

From what I've read, tourists

From what I've read, tourists won't be able to purchase from the government dispensaries.  Uruguay is afraid of drug tourism.  The feeling I get from this whole Uruguayan marijuana legalization thing is that this is one step above a 'free needle exchange' for their local populations to keep them off hard drugs.  If the government sells their marijuana too cheap, this will attract poor people to sell it for a profit.  In the end, the Uruguayan government might end up supplying the cartels and neighboring countries.  

Apprehension in the Beginning

The Uruguayan government would make it much easier for themselves if they followed the classic Dutch model.  Otherwise they’re going to defeat the stated purpose of marijuana legalization, which is to reduce black market activity. 

The Dutch reasoning is that by making weed available to all they break the chain that would otherwise exist between those who dispense marijuana exclusively and those in the black market who dispense everything else.  The Uruguayans understand this approach, even if the U.S. government and a lot of other governments do not, or will not.

The Uruguayans will be predictably cautious, but I think marijuana use will evolve within an herb-positive South American culture to finally emerge as a normal part of everyday life, like coca chewing and the bakery on the corner.  Time will tell.

Giordano

Good for Uruguay!

  Good for Uruguay!

Drug Legalization

Hooray for yet another Central and South American country that, tired of the Fascist U. S. policies towards drugs has decided that they no longer wish to pay the price for the Yanqui insanity towards drugs.

What I find interesting is that both Venezuela, a so called 'terrorist ' country and Mexico, America's neighbor and prime victim of U. S. drug policy have had in place, for over 2 years, a policy of not arresting and imprisoning addicts and low level dealers. In fact, the Venezuelan Supreme Court has ruled that arresting and imprisoning addicts for using drugs is a violation of theit basic human rights under the Venezuelan Constitution.

Here in America, the war on illegal drugs has been a linchpin in the ruling class' continuing successful efforts to distract the American People from what is really occurring in their own country. Namely that by demonizing drugs, among so many other issues, the wealthy have been unencumbered in their efforts to destroy the rest of us under the guise of law and order.

I cannot be the only person who sees the endgame being played here in the u.s. more laws, more jails, more prisoners, less tolerance, less differing viewpoints on potential solutions and finally the demise and destruction of ANYONE who would stand up and say; It is time to make a major change in everything from drug laws to wealth accumulation to the end of the world as it is run today.

Namely, AT THE EXPENSE OF THE 99.5% OF THE PLANET THAT HAVE NO SAY IN HOW THING ARE RUN, the ruling class, 0.5% of the world's population sucks the lifeblood of all of the rest of us.

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