After almost 12 hours of deliberation and debates, Uruguay’s Congress passed a ground breaking bill legalizing marijuana, making it the first country on the planet to allow growing, selling, and smoking the drug.
The trailblazing vote passed by a narrow majority of 16 votes in favour and 13 against. Even though the Congress’ lower house approved the bill already in late July 2013, it was never going to pass without serious discussions.
Uruguayan residents who are registered on a database and aged 18 or above will be allowed to purchase up to 1.4oz (40g) each month from licensed pharmacies as of April 2014 when the law comes into effect.
This will give the government roughly four months to set up a control board in charge of regulating standards, prices, and the amount of weed consumed. Everyone from grower to seller, and consumer will have to be registered with the authorities. Approved license-holders will be permitted to grow six plants per year in their own home.
“Today is a historic day. Many countries of Latin America, and many governments, will take this law as an example,” Sen. Constanza Moreira, a member of the governing Broad Front coalition, said after the bill passed.
Smoking marijuana is already legal in Uruguay, but production and sale were not. Those in opposition of the bill cited health issues as their strongest argument. Meanwhile, a smiling crowd, looking slightly peckish, gathered outside Congress to wave green balloons and flags with the infamous plant’s leaf.
President Jose Mujica originally proposed the new legislation after years of fighting a failing war against drugs, and said the bill could help tackle organized crime and drug cartels. The 78-year-old is now expected to sign it into law.
Former Health Minister Alfredo Solari, a Colorado Party senator said his greatest concern was that the new rules would make it easier for children to acquire marijuana. “The effects of this policy on public health will be terrible,” he added.
“This project envisages a social engineering experiment and respects none of the ethic safeguards or experimentation on human beings, and they are important in the case of a substance like marijuana, which causes damage to human beings,” Solari said.
There have been no reports of replacing the words ‘Sir’ and ‘Mister’ for words like ‘Dude’ or ‘Man,’ which are often linked to the vocabulary associated with pot smokers.