Uruguay looking to sell marijuana to combat cocaine.
'The unusual idea, announced Wednesday by Uruguayan officials
, would be one of the boldest steps yet among Latin American leaders to alter a war on drugs driven solely by prohibition, which increasingly is resisted in the Americas as a failed strategy.' 'Under the plan backed by President Jose Mujica’s leftist administration, only the government would be allowed to sell marijuana and only to adults who register on a government database, letting officials keep track of their purchases over time. Profits would reportedly go toward rehabilitating drug addicts.'
'“It’s a fight on both fronts: against consumption and drug trafficking. We think the prohibition of some drugs is creating more problems to society than the drug itself,” Defense Minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro told reporters late Wednesday.
Fernandez said the bill would soon be sent to Congress, which is dominated by Mujica’s party, but that an exact date had not been set. If approved, Uruguay’s national government would be the first in the world to directly sell marijuana to its citizens. Some local governments do so.'
'Overburdened by clogged prisons, some Latin American countries have relaxed penalties for drug possession and personal use and distanced themselves from the tough stance pushed by the United States four decades ago when the Richard Nixon administration declared the war on drugs.
“There’s a real human drama where people get swept up in draconian drug laws intended to put major drug traffickers behind bars, but because the way they are implemented in Latin America, they end up putting many marijuana consumers behind bars,” said Coletta Youngers, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America think tank.'
'Uruguay has put forward its plan as Latin American leaders express growing frustration with the traditional war on drugs, arguing it has failed to kill off the drug trade or ease violence. Earlier this year, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina suggested decriminalizing drugs. The president of Colombia and other leaders raised the idea at an April summit in Cartagena, spurring a new study of alternative strategies; Brazil and Argentina are already weighing drug decriminalization laws.
Unswayed, President Obama has brushed off the idea of legalizing drugs, saying it isn’t the answer. The United States also has resisted carving out exceptions in the drug war, opposing a Bolivian attempt to exempt the traditional practice of chewing coca leaves from a U.N. convention on narcotics. The Uruguayan idea is expected to face the same fears of creating a slippery slope.'