You’ve heard by now that Uruguay is the first country in the world to legalize the production and sale of marijuana.
This small country of 3 million people is leading the way with progressive social policies in Latin America. In the past year, it has legalized abortion, gay marriage and marijuana.
But don’t be fooled, Uruguay is not a cannabis republic. The government-run program, which should be in place later this year, will have limits and rules for marijuana sale and consumption.
The new law doesn’t position Uruguay as a destination for pot tourism, either. Uruguayans will only be allowed to buy marijuana from pharmacies or cannabis clubs. Tourists can’t score pot legally.
Unlike Washington and Colorado in the United States, the legalization of pot was not put in place by a voter initiative. Legalization was driven by Uruguayan President José Mujica as a way to combat drug trafficking and to serve as a model for drug policy around the world.
While Uruguay’s legalization isn’t geared toward weed tourism, there is a huge potential to create a new industry for both recreational and medicinal uses of cannabis. But it will be highly regulated by the Uruguayan government.
Restrictions aside, this is an unprecedented experiment and a potential game changer in the war on drugs, which has taken hundreds of thousands of lives in Latin America.