Uruguay becomes first country to legalize sale and production of marijuana
Uruguay has become the first nation in the world to make it legal to grow, sell and consume marijuana. The country’s parliament has passed the government-sponsored bill which allows registered Uruguayans over 18 to buy up to 40g (1,4oz) of the drug a month.
Though possession of the drug is not a crime in the country, but with this legislation coming into effect in April 2014, the price of marijuana will be set at 1 dollar per gram, aiming to undercut the current price of $1.40 in the illegal market. A specialized body would be set up by the government to regulate the sale and production of the drug and it will administer a database of adult citizens registered to consume marijuana. The law would permit registered Uruguayans over the age of 18 to buy up to 40 grams of marijuana from pharmacies every month and cultivate a maximum of 6 plants on their property a year. The legislation will also permit for the creation of so-called cannabis clubs, composed of up to 45 members who will be able to grow a maximum of 99 plants a year.
Why Uruguay is legalizing marijuana trade?
The government of Uruguay intends to curb the market of illegal marijuana this new legislation as its previous attempts and policies have failed. The law is an experiment programme under which the government will sell the drug at a price lower than that in the illegal markets to defeat them and push them out of this business. It will also be able to tax the revenue generated from it. The whole programme will be regulated and administered by the government.
The project has drawn national and international criticism. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has warned that the law would be in complete contravention to the provisions of the international drug treaties to which Uruguay is signatory. As per health experts, this move would encourage the drug market and would cause social damage as marijuana is highly addictive and is 15 times more carcinogenic than tobacco. It produces psychological disorders like depression, anxiety and – for heavy consumers – schizophrenia.
What is International Narcotics Control Board (INCB)?
The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) is an independent body of experts established by the United Nations to monitor countries’ compliance with international drug treaties.