Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Uruguayan Legislators Debate Marijuana Legalization

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On Thursday, demonstrators at the Supreme Court in Montevideo protested the criminalization of marijuana possession. Under the slogan, “No más presos por plantar” (No more prisoners for plants) supporters of the Movement for the Liberation of Cannabis protested the arrest of an Uruguayan artisan and of Alicia Castilla, the Argentine author of  Cultura cannabis. Both were arrested for being in possession of marijuana in their residencies.

A memorandum addressed to the Supreme Court by the movement’s supporters argued that the ambiguity of Law 14.294, which punishes narco-traffic and prohibits the cultivation of cannabis but exempts those that hold a “reasonable amount exclusively for personal consumption” is the term in question as to who decides the amount and the reason for possession. 

In late 2010 Congressman Luis Alberto Aparicio Alejando Lacalle Pou submitted a bill to Parliament to decriminalize the cultivation and harvesting of marijuana for personal consumption. “My generation lived and lives with drugs, unlike our parents or grandparents, so it isn’t a taboo subject,” Pou told AFP.  He added that “Uruguay’s narcotics law is completely contradictory.”

Sebastián Sabini, deputy of the ruling party Frente Amplio, shares Luis Alberto’s view, but believes a limit of 25 grams of marijuana and eight plants in the home should be set, in order to “provide legal certainty for citizens on how far it is considered possession for personal use and in what point becomes trafficking. “

In 2007 a report composed by the National Drug Board found that marijuana is the most consumed drug in Uruguay. The survey of about 200,000 people found that 12.2 percent had experimented with the drug.

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