Legalization in Uruguay

A good article today in the New York Times: South America Sees Drug Path to Legalization by Damien Cave.

Uruguay has taken the experimentation to another level. United Nations officials say no other country has seriously considered creating a completely legal state-managed monopoly for marijuana or any other substance prohibited by the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Doing so would make Uruguay the world’s first marijuana republic — leapfrogging the Netherlands, which has officially ignored marijuana sales and use since 1976, and Portugal, which abolished all criminal penalties for drug use in 2001. Here, in contrast, a state-run industry would be born, created by government bureaucrats convinced that opposition to marijuana is simply outdated.

“In 1961, television was just black and white,” said Julio Calzada, secretary general of Uruguay’s National Committee on Drugs. “Now we have the Internet.”

Of course, the devil is in the details, as there is opposition from all sorts of groups including marijuana users regarding how the new policy might be implemented. So, it could take a while yet.

Still, this is such a positive effort. In particular, those who claim to care about the facts and science of drug policy, and go out of their way to repeatedly say that we can’t know what the results of legalization would be (since it doesn’t exist anywhere in the world), should be encouraging this effort by Uruguay with all their might.

After all, we might learn something.

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15 Responses to Legalization in Uruguay

  1. claygooding says:

    It is necessary to place one foot in front of the other to start any trip and this is a trip we have needed since 1961!

  2. kaptinemo says:

    As usual, the best is saved for last:

    ” But Gabriel said that big dealers would inevitably adapt. The question is: for good or ill? Maybe they would start selling cocaine cheaper, he said, causing more problems. Or maybe they would be pushed out of the drug business entirely. For now, at least, they mostly seem to be afraid of change: he said a kilogram of marijuana (2.2 pounds) now costs about $470 in Uruguay, up from around $375 before the legalization proposal was announced.

    “They are trying to make as much money as they can,” Gabriel said. “They think legalization is imminent.”.

    Yepper…as are the forces behind the crackdown here. They smell it in the wind, and know that there’s only a few years, two, maybe 3 at best, before the game changes completely.

    The social (translation: demographic) tipping point has already been reached; just like the old reformer’s joke, ignorant, anti-cannabis-bigoted ol’ Grandpa is dying off as the kids are finally coming into their own, politically.

    The prohibs are doing their very best to keep that lynch pin from falling over any further, and their efforts will get downright insane before it’s all over, but it’s a ‘forlorn hope’. They’ll be crushed by it if they don’t get out of its’ path as it falls.

    Which, given all the lives they took so much pleasure in ruining, will be just fine with me….

    • Duncan20903 says:


      I find the thought that all you have to do is to make hardcore drugs available and people will take up addiction a stunning piece of stupidity. Demand for addictive drugs is hardly elastic. Are there really people who believe that the black market vendors could increase profits by lowering the price of cocaine? So why haven’t they done so? How hard is it to throw an extra couple of kilos of coke on the shipment? The 1980s are long gone, and with them the thought that cocaine is a manageable party drug.

    • Speaking of the prohibs doing their very best to keep that lynch pin from falling over any further: Gils friends are starting to scream – you know, the ones who think drug abuse is a brain disorder? I think ASAM is looking to save their easy treatment money (treating marijuana patients sent by courts)
      Sounds like the basis of all the Drug Czar’s recent lines. I think its the Governments last line of defense against the truth. It should be. The addiction guys get plenty of Federal $$$. These ASAM guys claim to know the science of drug policy. They helped write it, I am sure.

    • Clearly looking like the Iast stand. The wagons are forming a circle. They are calling for reinforcements.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Just remember what Yogi Berra said, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” We’ve got the momentum now but they have an extensive portfolio of dirty tricks up their sleeves.

        You may discount my warnings because I lived through the late ’70s/early ’80s, the last time we had the momentum. Then along came Nancy and “just say no” and here we sit. We’re actually much closer to the goal today than we were then. Decriminalization of petty possession was only polling in the low to mid 30s support among the public.

        No lines of cocaine for Mr. Kerlikowske, please!

        • kaptinemo says:

          I agree. Sadly, my generation thought we had the momentum, and we figured we could kick back and let rationality win the day. And instead got blindsided with the control-freak parents movement energies being ‘captured’ by DuPont and his opportunistic bureaucracy.

          Combine that with the traditional First Lady’s need to seem like they’re ‘doing something’, ol’ Nancy, she of the shiny Dexedrine Eyes (“Paging Dr. Feelgood! Dr. Feelgood!”) figured she was safe in taking on illegal drugs, and got Alzsheimer’s-addled Ronnie to sign off on it, and away went the 35 year long rolling Juggernaut that has been the modern DrugWar. Partly because we didn’t press the advantage when we had it. And in doing so we were forced to endure 3 decades of hell.

          This time, no stopping. This time, no ‘bridge of silver’, no quarters asked or given. This time, no hoping against hope. This time, as they used to say when I was little, ‘give until it hurts’. This time, slay the Beast.

          The circumstances couldn’t be better for us. A moribund economy, wars everywhere, the Treasury emptied, the social effects of the crippled economy has normally indifferent people in an activist mood. They need the money wasted on the DrugWar. Keep reminding them of that fact. Don’t let up, or this Beast will come back, even stronger and deadlier than before. For, it did, in my generation’s case.

  3. ezrydn says:

    First, we have to listen to all the lies and propaganda about how it’s NOT working. You know it’s coming.

  4. Duncan20903 says:

    Ethan Nadelman chimes in on HuffPo.

  5. Tony Aroma says:

    How could we possibly learn something from this? It’s a very different country in terms of size, politics, beliefs, etc. There is nothing we can learn from a more liberal marijuana policy in Uruguay. Just like there is nothing we can learn from Portugal, or The Netherlands, or Spain, or Israel. So what if they’ve found drug policies that are more effective and less damaging than ours. Their lessons in no way apply to us.

    Seriously, don’t you ever listen to the Drug Czar?

  6. Pingback: Gil Kerlikowske, Drug Czar: Marijuana Legalization ‘Isn’t Going To Solve Our … – Huffington Post |

  7. Pingback: Gil Kerlikowske, Drug Czar: Marijuana Legalization ‘Isn’t Going To Solve Our … – Huffington Post | Medical Marijuana News

  8. CJ says:

    like the dudes over at legalizeheroinorg say i guess this is a good thing because just like anything else, pot is the gateway to bigger and better things, eh so it is said about the so called gateway drug theory, so i guess its the same for heroin and opiates. the gateway to legalization. god willing.

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