What Uruguay’s Legalization means for Latin America

iStock_000009135835_ExtraSmall.jpgSurpassing all other countries in the world on modernization of marijuana laws, legislators in Uruguay passed a bill in December of 2013 to legalize and regulate marijuana nation-wide. Uruguay’s president voiced strong support for the bill, noting a legalized market would reduce illicit drug trade, and signed the bill into law. Uruguayans over the age of 18 may legally grow six marijuana plants, form smoking clubs of 15-45 members with a production limit of 99 plants a year, and buy up to 40 grams or 1.4 ounces each month from government-regulated retail shops. See Uruguay’s New Marijuana Laws here.

Other Latin American countries are not far behind in the movement to reform drug laws away from ineffective criminalization and toward sensible regulations. In Ecuador, lawmakers have debated a bill that would lessen the penalties associated with marijuana. The head of Argentina’s counter-narcotics agency, Juan Carlos Molina, supports debating whether Argentina should follow its neighbor Uruguay’s example.

In Mexico, Mexico City’s council recommended laws to construct a system of marijuana growing co-operatives. The council purposed the laws to permit people growing marijuana and facilitate government monitoring of marijuana production and consumption.
Chile already permits adults to consume any drug as long as the use is done in private and not in groups. The president-elect of Chile has voiced support for the reconsideration Chile’s treatment of marijuana.

Voices favoring new approaches on drug illegality seem to be present on both sides of the Latin American political spectrum. Conservative leaders, such as the presidents of Colombia and Guatemala, as well as liberal leaders like the presidents of Uruguay and Argentina are supporters of rethinking drug policies.

Some of the strongest support in Latin America for the modernization of marijuana polices comes from young people. For example, 81% of the youth in Buenos Aires, 79% of the youth in Santiago, 81% of the youth in Argentine, 79% of the youth in Chile, and 73% of the youth in Mexico favor marijuana legalization.

Other Latin American countries, which have not supported marijuana modernization, seem to desperately need some kind of reform to combat their problems with illicit drug production and distribution. For instance, Paraguay and Brazil, two countries that have resisted marijuana legalization, have suffered tremendously from the region’s drug trade. Illegal marijuana production in Paraguay is responsible for more illegal marijuana production than any other country in the region. About 80% of such illegally produced marijuana from Paraguay flows into Brazil. Latin America’s war on drugs has immensely harmed the fabric of Latin American society as a whole. A thriving illicit drug market has created alarmingly high amounts incarceration. For example, 70% of all women in Latin American prisons are incarcerated for drug offenses alone.
Uruguay’s ambitious advancement of marijuana modernization gives greater legitimacy to on-going Latin American efforts to reform marijuana laws while also sparking new movements reassessing drug policy.

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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301.  www.ggglawfirm.com

Drug Related Charges may include: Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Dangerous Drug, Manufacturing a Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Delivery or Intent to Deliver Marijuana/Dangerous Drug/Controlled Substance, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and many other drug related charges.