Uruguay's Middle-Ground Approach to Cannabis Legalization

Published in: International Journal of Drug Policy, Volume 42, pages 118-120 (April 2017). doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2017.02.007

by Magdalena Cerdá, Beau Kilmer

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Cannabis legalization is a serious topic of discussion in the Western Hemisphere. Since 2012, voters in eight U.S. states have passed laws to legalize large-scale cannabis production and allow profit-maximizing companies to grow and sell it for nonmedical purposes. Voters in Washington DC also approved legalization, but supply is limited to home production and gifting—retail sales are not allowed. In 2013, Uruguay's President José Mujica ratified a legalization bill that is noteworthy for at least three reasons. Most importantly, it made Uruguay the first country in the world to remove the prohibition on cannabis supply for nonmedical purposes. Second, Uruguay's middle-ground approach to cannabis supply falls in between the two options commonly discussed in the United States: prohibition versus the standard commercial model. Third, the law was approved by politicians, not the voters.

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