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Uruguay’s answer to drug problem: Nationalise the marijuana industry

Observers will watch the South American state closely, as it looks to take a novel approach to regulating drug usage.

Image: Marco Ugarte/AP

THE SOUTH AMERICAN country of Uruguay has announced what is thought to be a world first: the plan to nationalise the country’s marijuana industry.

The government in Montevideo has announced plans to take over the growth, production, distribution and sale of the drug in an attempt to smother the underground drug trade, while at the same time regulating consumption.

As the Wall Street Journal explains, the proposals would require people over the age of 18 to register on a national database before being allowed to buy a joint.

There would also be limits on the amount of the drug that any individual purchaser could buy.

All funds generated from the sale of the drugs would be diverted into drug rehabilitation programmes to try and further tackle the excessive use of the drugs.

Uruguayan president José Mujica confirmed the plans in an interview to paper El Observador, saying the proposals would not simply allow someone “to go to a shop and buy the amount of marijuana that he likes”.

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“The state will control quality, quantity and price,” the Daily Telegraph quoted Mujica as saying, ”and if somebody buys 20 marijuana cigarettes, he will have to smoke them. He won’t be able to sell them.”

Mujica’s left-wing Broad Front group commands a majority in both houses of the Uruguayan parliament, and if the plans are approved, Uruguay would be the first country in the world to sell marijuana directly to its citizens.

Read: Ecstasy use falls by half but we’re still boozing

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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