Uruguay's Pro-Pot President Admits He's "Never Tried It"
The progressive president has fought for a bill to legalize pot, but not for his own self-interest.
Uruguayan president José Mújica supports marijuana legalization, even though he confessed this week that he's never tried it. "I have never tried it in my life and I don't know what it is," he told a local radio station on Monday, adding that he's aware "a lot of young people have tried it." Many Uruguayan lawmakers support "trying" legalization of pot in an effort to curb drug-related crime in the country. "There's no real alternative," said Senator Sebastian Sabini, earlier this year. "In Uruguay it's clear that illegal drug consumption has increased in the last 50 years with prohibition, even as we improved the quality of repressive aspects." Marijuana legalization has been on the Uruguayan government's agenda since the bill was first introduced in 2012. But it was the citizens—not lawmakers—who have stalled its passage. Polls from earlier this year showed that most Uruguayans opposed a bill which would allow people over 18 to purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana per month from state-sanctioned distributors. The law would also establish a National Institute of Cannabis, which would invest revenue from marijuana sales into crime prevention and addiction treatment. Last December, the government had the votes needed to pass the bill, but President Mújica postponed the vote until advocates could drum up more support from citizens. "Don't vote on a law because you have majority in parliament," he told lawmakers at the time. "Support has to come from the streets." Since then, the vote has been delayed and legislators on both sides have tried to sway public opinion. A vote is now set for the end of this month.