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Uruguay Seeks to Sell Pot to Its Citizens

The government wishes to start selling recreational-use marijuana to registered adults.

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Shopkeepers could soon be handling pot for
Uruguay's government instead. Photo via

By McCarton Ackerman

06/21/12

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The biggest supplier of marijuana in Uruguay could soon be the country's own government. A proposed bill would let the government sell marijuana to adult citizens who are registered on a database, making the South American country the world's first pot-dealing nation. It's an attempt to take profits out of the hands of organized crime and prevent users from graduating to harder drugs, thereby reducing social costs. "We're shifting toward a stricter state control of the distribution and production of this drug," says Minister of Defense 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." In addition, money on the taxes from government-sold marijuana would go towards rehabilitating addicts. But some medical experts in the country oppose the idea, claiming that marijuana is both dangerous and a gateway to harder drugs. "In the long-run, marijuana is still poison," argues Guillermo Castro, head of psychiatry at the Hospital Britanico in Montevideo. "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. I think it would much more effective to educate people about drugs instead of legalizing them." Possession of marijuana for personal use has never been a criminal offense in Uruguay.

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