Uruguay’s eccentric President, José Mujica, recently stated that even though marijuana is still underground in the nation of just over three million people, "you can smell it everywhere."
Recent legislation aims to normalize and legalize the substance. On the last day of July, Uruguay’s lower house, known as the "Chamber of Deputies," approved legislation to legalize marijuana. According to President Mujica, the aim is to battle drug trafficking.
The bill is expected to pass Uruguay’s "Chamber of Senators," and will undoubtedly receive the signature of Mujica, making Uruguay the first country in the world to entirely legalize marijuana.
In a handful of countries in the world, drug possession and consumption is legal. One of the more famous examples of this is Holland, where tourists often pass through the country for the opportunity to consume cannabis from a coffee shop. Portugal legalized all personal drug possession in 2001.
Uruguay’s bill would be different, as it would legalize the entire supply chain for marijuana, from production, to sales, to consumption. Individuals would be allowed to grow a certain number of plants, and companies would be allowed to cultivate even larger amounts, with the stipulation that they be sold to the government for distribution through pharmacies.
While the bill only legalizes marijuana for citizens, it may result in an increase in tourism, which only accounts for 6% of Gross National Product (GNP) in Uruguay, due to the anticipated ubiquitous availability post decriminalization.