Uruguay Set to Legalize Pot

Bill puts government in charge of marijuana sales
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2013 12:01 AM CDT
Uruguay Set to Legalize Pot
A marijuana grower shows plants he is cultivating with some friends in Montevideo, Uruguay.    (AP Photo/Matilde Campodonico, File)

Uruguay: the Colorado of South America? The country is set to become the first to fully legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana after the lower house of parliament narrowly passed a sweeping legalization bill, the BBC reports. The bill, backed by President Jose Mujica's government, puts the sale of marijuana in government hands and allows users to grow six plants per household. It is expected to pass the country's Senate easily this fall.

Mujica says the measure will take profits away from traffickers and free up police resources to target dealers selling harder drugs. "This is a very innovative bill, with the state deciding to regulate the entire chain of production, distribution, and access to the substance," says the chief of the country's Cannabis Studies Association, who believes it will set an example for other countries in the region. But toking tourists are out of luck: Under the bill, marijuana will be sold through pharmacies only to Uruguayans who have registered on a federal database, the New York Times notes. (Read more Uruguay stories.)

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