Editorial: Uruguay to test legal marijuana sales – Today’s News
Editorial: Uruguay to test legal marijuana sales
An editorial / Dale McFeatters
Scripps Howard News Service
Uruguay is said to be one of South America’s most pleasant lands and, under proposed new government legislation, it may become one of its mellowest.
The leftist government of President Jose Mujica is proposing a government monopoly to sell marijuana. The government would sell only to adults and only to those who register on a government database that would keep track of their use.
There are no laws against marijuana possession now in Uruguay so those who wanted to smoke more without making the government suspicious could easily buy weed on the private market.
Advocates advance several arguments in favor of legal sales by the government. The government would buy directly from farmers, eliminating the cut the black market takes out of their profits; the government’s profits would go to drug rehabilitation programs and, undoubtedly, to the national treasury; and, it is hoped, readily available marijuana would lessen the attraction of harder drugs.
Further, they argue, legal sales would deny profits to illegal drug traffickers. The country has become alarmed by a recent spate of drug-related violence, minuscule compared to other South American nations but alarming in this generally peaceful and law-abiding land.
Uruguay has a population of 3.38 million, 98-percent literacy, a life expectancy of 76 years, and a per-capita income of $ 15,700. The State Department says it has a strong legal system, open financial markets and welcomes foreign investors. Unfortunately, it also has a high rate of emigration of young people; perhaps hassle-free marijuana will persuade them to stay.
Uruguay must realize, as the first nation to completely legalize the sale of marijuana, even as a government monopoly, it will be closely watched by advocates in favor of legalization and those in favor of criminalization.
If legal and open sales of marijuana attract crowds and tourists and expand the tax base, we may see in the United States something like what happened earlier: Puritanical, blue-nosed, no-sales-on-Sundays states that found themselves cash short suddenly found unexpected virtues in lotteries, slots and casino gambling.
The tip-off will be when the first planeload of governors, members of Congress and state dignitaries flies down to Montevideo on a “fact-finding” mission.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://www.scrippsnews.com)
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