Uruguay to Become First Country to Legalize Cannabis

Uruguay becomes the first country to legalize cannabis in 2013 | Cannabis Now Magazine

Update: The bill was signed into law by President Jose Mujica on Dec. 24.

Today, barring some unforeseen upset, Uruguay makes history. The tiny South American country’s marijuana legalization bill which eked through its House of Representatives is expected to pass easily through its Senate, now that the final reconciliations have been conducted between the two chambers. President José Mujica, who first proposed the policy, will probably sign it into law by the end of the week. By the end of April, the government in Montevideo will be selling dollar grams.

Such a move is unprecedented in its scope. Since the advent of the 1961 UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, no country has ever taken such a bold step in defiance of its required cannabis ban, and Uruguay isn’t even pretending to respect the treaty anymore. Rebuffing an invitation to discuss the bill with the United Nations’ drug control panel, the Uruguayans are charging forward; and ultimately, the reasons they give for legalization may prove more powerful than legalization itself.

The vote comes on the 65th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that is no coincidence. At the biannual Drug Policy Reform Conference held last October in Denver, Colorado, the Uruguayan delegation provoked a standing ovation with their simple yet powerful observation: that there was no way that their government could honor its obligations under the UN Single Convention while also upholding its obligations under the Declaration of Human Rights. In other words, they finally realized that they had to choose between human rights and pot prohibition – and they chose human rights.

The idea is not mere rhetoric. Latin America has borne the worst collateral damage of the global War on Drugs, witnessing human rights violations of every conceivable scope. Even in the United States, the supposed “land of the free,” the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference has found systemic human rights abuses disproportionately affecting Americans of color; because of its drug policies, the US now locks up more of its own citizens than any other country on Earth. Having thus created a new Jim Crow, the US has exported the same policy to every corner of the planet it can influence. Mujica and his allies in Parliament have taken a big risk with their votes.

So light one up for Uruguay today; it’s a day which will go down in history. When the sky doesn’t fall, when crime doesn’t soar, and most of all once humans are once again treated with dignity – the last Prohibitionist lies will be exposed under the South American summer sun. And everyone will remember brave Uruguay as the country to bring the wall of prohibition down.

Tell us in the comments below, how do you think this will affect cannabis prohibition around the world?

Jeremy Daw is a contributor of Cannabis Now Magazine and the author of Weed the People: From Founding Fiber to Forbidden Fruit. After studying English Literature at the University of Texas, philosophy at NYU, and law at Harvard, he embarked on a career of writing about his favorite plant. As an expert in the law, history, and politics surrounding cannabis sativa L., Jeremy provides exceptional insight and analysis for cannabisnow.com.

5 Comments

  1. Justin

    December 12, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Congrats to Uruguay!! Stand tall and be the role model the world really needs. Marijuana saves lives!! Now maybe the eyes of the world can be opened.

  2. Ang

    December 12, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I hope I’m alive when we finally end the prohibition of Marijuana, here in the US

  3. Kid de Winter

    December 10, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Uruguay is setting a good example with their legalization of cannabis, it will turn out to be THE solution. Cannabis prohibition – as well as all other drug prohibition for that matter – around the world must and will come to an end. The war on drugs is on its last legs, everybody knows that. However, politicians never take any initiative themselves, they’ll only change their opinion/legislation/etc when they’re forced to do so, always lagging behind they are. Good bye to the old ‘Drugs are bad so they should be illegal’, there have only ever been moral arguments for that one. It used to be the old selling point, easy for people to understand. But nowadays, most people know better. Politics, schmolitics.

  4. Taehun(Ted) Honv

    December 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

    This is a gient human rarional’s victory. The Uruguyan opens a door that lead and save our future. They may not realized what this can bring to human being, it will a landmark event affecting every simgle soul on our planet. A SMALL STEP FOR URUGUYAN BUT A GIENT STEP FOR MAN!

  5. Ricardo

    December 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Well I would say it opens
    up doors for us because now the USA can have a look on how it affects the economy and the crime rate. Witch will make us have a better chance for it to be legalized for us in the united states . Maybe not now but it brings the opportunity closer to us and that’s what matters.

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