The case of Uruguay is an odd one. If you haven’t heard the news, it is expected that Uruguay will be legalizing marijuana very soon. Its “House of Representatives” have voted in favor of legalizing marijuana by a ratio of 50 in favor and 46 against. This would legalize possession, allow you to grow, sell and buy marijuana. The measure is on its way to the Senate but some believe that’s merely a formality.
The Presidents Motives
Uruguay’s President Mujica is calling the whole thing “an experiment” and doesn’t predict its success despite the fact he heavily encourages legalization of marijuana. In fact, he will be outlining his arguments in September, when he will be speaking to the United Nations on why he considers this to be a good idea.
In the meantime, lets try and dissect Uruguay’s motives for this recent decision. Uruguay is the smallest country in Latin America and it virtually makes very little sense to legalize marijuana over there. The crime rates are extremely low and recent polls show that about 65% of its people are against marijuana legalization. The country itself has about 120,000 weed enthusiasts. For comparison, California consumes about 500 tons of weed a year while Uruguay smokes a mere 22 tones.
President Mujica’s main argument for now is that he believes legalizing marijuana will somehow be beneficial for public safety. A more obvious reason would be that Mujica wants to be thought of as a pioneering leader of Uruguay. As an example to that testament, Mujica approved of the most liberal abortion law to date and legalized same-sex marriage. Marijuana is obviously next.
How Will This Work?
Naturally, thousands of questions are popping up all over the place. How will it be regulated? Why promote liberalization of drugs when Latin America seems to be the culprit of the ongoing war on drugs with the U.S.? Will it really lower crime rates, divert people from heavier drugs and sort of balance the country? Or will the regulations turn out to be a disaster that will turn the whole country into a marijuana production facility. If that happens, Brazil and Argentina are most likely to suffer the consequences, as that is where marijuana will probably be legally imported to when marijuana production reaches its peak.
In our opinion, the worst thing a country can do when legalizing marijuana is to rush things. Time management is key here, as well as constantly researching public opinion, educating the public, protecting children and presenting the benefits and hazards in a clear and efficient manner. Those things take time and pulling off a stunt like this for the sake of having it in your resume is not a good path to follow because the probability of it backfiring is very high. Its okay to encourage legalization of marijuana, but not at all cost.