Legalization in Uruguay

A good article today in the New York Times: South America Sees Drug Path to Legalization by Damien Cave.

Uruguay has taken the experimentation to another level. United Nations officials say no other country has seriously considered creating a completely legal state-managed monopoly for marijuana or any other substance prohibited by the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.

Doing so would make Uruguay the world’s first marijuana republic — leapfrogging the Netherlands, which has officially ignored marijuana sales and use since 1976, and Portugal, which abolished all criminal penalties for drug use in 2001. Here, in contrast, a state-run industry would be born, created by government bureaucrats convinced that opposition to marijuana is simply outdated.

“In 1961, television was just black and white,” said Julio Calzada, secretary general of Uruguay’s National Committee on Drugs. “Now we have the Internet.”

Of course, the devil is in the details, as there is opposition from all sorts of groups including marijuana users regarding how the new policy might be implemented. So, it could take a while yet.

Still, this is such a positive effort. In particular, those who claim to care about the facts and science of drug policy, and go out of their way to repeatedly say that we can’t know what the results of legalization would be (since it doesn’t exist anywhere in the world), should be encouraging this effort by Uruguay with all their might.

After all, we might learn something.

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