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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Uruguay is first country to legalize marijuana

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By Ashley Curtin

NationofChange / News Report

Published: Friday 9 May 2014

On Tuesday, Uruguay became the first country to publicly legalize marijuana. While President José Mujica’s coalition passed the marijuana bill last year, the new regulation enacts the most “ambitious cannabis legalization” in all the world.

Uruguay's new government-controlled regulation allows legal residents of Uruguay 18 years of age or older, who register with the government, to legally purchase marijuana from licensed pharmacies, grow it on their own and, or join marijuana clubs.

Registered users can legally purchase up to 40 grams of marijuana a month set at a cost of about $1 per gram. Annually, a person can grow up to 1.06 pounds of marijuana for commercial use, while marijuana clubs, consisting of 15 to 45 members, can legally grow as many as 99 plants. The Mujica administration’s goal is to “allow legal growers to corner a market estimated at between 18 and 22 tons of marijuana a year with a value of about $40 million,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

"We want to strike a blow against narco traffickers, taking market from them," the left-wing Uruguayan president said in an interview with reporters. "We're not recommending that smoking marijuana is good like some poets say. No addiction is good. The only addiction I recommend to young people is love."

The government-run Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis will manage all facets of the Uruguay marijuana trade with special focus on the importation of seeds. The Institute will issue licenses to private companies to “grow, transport and process marijuana for sale in pharmacies,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

And among the many companies wanting to participate, Monsanto is looking to divulge into Uruguay’s marijuana market.

The giant U.S.-based biotech company “plans to launch production of genetically modified marijuana.” Under the control of Monsanto shareholder George Soros, Drug Policy Alliance y Open Society Foundation—an organization created for this sole purpose—will create its own brand of marijuana, La Red 21, and will soon be “responsible for market development of transgenic seeds of marijuana, particularly in Uruguay,” according to Progressive Radio Network.

While marijuana is on pace to become the next “major GMO crop,” Monsanto is focused on producing and patenting GMO-manipulated medical marijuana that can be implemented as a medicine by teaming up with pharmacists to create "transgenic strains that are able to produce more active compounds."

But before this can all happen, the Uruguay government still needs to build a working relationship with pharmacies and "convince them to stock the weed," according to The Wall Street Journal.

As Mujica took a radically different approach to “undercut criminal gangs” from that of many other countires, skeptics that oppose the measure, which including pharmacy owners and politicians, believe “it will lead to greater pot consumption and, eventually, harder drug [use].”

With 21 states in America permitting the use of medical marijuana and the evolving public opinion on the drug, Americans are watching Uruguay’s experiment with even greater interest.

ABOUT Ashley Curtin
Ashley Curtin is an exclusive reporter for NationofChange writing on trending topics such as politics, the economy, human rights and the environment from around the world. Before this, she was a features reporter at Daily Breeze, a local newspaper in Southern California, writing a variety of stories with focus in the field of science and medicine, arts and entertainment. Ashley is a transplant from Boston now calling Los Angeles her home.

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