This week Uruguay will officially begin legal sales of marijuana for those 18 and older, over three and a half years after the law legalizing the plant was initially approved by lawmakers.
The legalization of marijuana was first proposed by former-President José Mujica in 2012 as part of a comprehensive package of proposals aimed at improving public safety. Uruguay’s parliament gave final approval to the measure in December 2013, making Uruguay the first country in the world to fully legalize cannabis for retail distribution. This week – over 3.5 years later – legal sales will finally begin.
“This is a historic moment,” says Hannah Hetzer, Senior International Policy Manager at the Drug Policy Alliance. “In recent years, Latin American leaders have decried the staggering human, environmental and financial costs of the War on Drugs in their region. Uruguay is boldly demonstrating that concrete alternatives to failed prohibitionist policies are possible.”