This year, a green revolution is stirring in South Americas’s 2nd smallest nation…
Uruguay: A modern Utopia?
Despite taking up a fairly modest amount of space on the map and having a relatively small population (just over 3.3million, as of 2011), the country of Uruguay has some stats which would shame many larger, wealthier nations around the world:
- In 1997, Uruguay was the first country in the Americas to provide complete digital telephone coverage from border to border.
- In 2009, Uruguay became the first country in the Americas to provide a laptop computer for each and every one of its primary school pupils as part of the ‘One Laptop per Child’
- Today, Uruguay contributes more on a per-capita basis to the UN peacekeeping forces than any other nation on earth.
Statistics like these paint a picture of a liberal, progressive, peace-loving and forward-looking nation that looks set to grow from strength to strength as the 21st Century progresses.
More recently, a controversial bill has allowed Uruguay to go down in the history books as the first country in the world to allow cannabis to be cultivated, sold and consumed legally: But will this prove to be a crowning achievement, or a failed experiment?
An englighted approach to cannabis
Uruguay is a country on the cusp of a revolution: But far from being a violent movement,
this uprising looks set to be a pretty mellow affair…
By re-thinking its laws when it comes to regulating the cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis, officials in Uruguay hope to clamp down on illegal drug trafficking and narcotic-related violence.
The first steps towards a state-controlled marijuana market are already in effect:
- Following the approval of the new bill, a special board will be set up in order to regulate the quality, quantity and pricing structure of the newly legalised herb.
- Cannabis seeds breeders, growers and traders will have to apply for special licences in order to legally cultivate and sell marijuana.
- Uruguayans over the age of 18 will be allowed to purchase a controlled-quantity of cannabis (up to 40g per month) frm licenced outlets, once they register their details on a national database.
This innovative approach is already inspiring lawmakers across Latin America, who are looking for bold new ways to re-think their policies, with the aim of lowering drug-related crime and violence.
$1 per gram for legalised cannabis – is this the price of freedom?
Uruguay’s motto: ‘Freedom or Death’ might give you some clues as to this nation’s mind-set when it comes to protecting its citizens’ liberty: But, given the bargain-basement prices being suggested for legal weed, has this country gone too far with its drugs laws?
- By keeping the prices of state-controlled legal cannabis fixed at extremely reasonable rates, the Uruguayan government plans to cut illegal drug traffickers out of the picture together, meaning that higher-quality, afer produce can be readily purchased by its citizens.
- Licensed cannabis purchasers are limited to a monthly cap, with registered citizens being allowed to grow uup to six plants in their homes annually: It is hoped that this will encourage responsible use.
- It has been argued that controlled, safe use of legalised cannabis is less of a threat to public safety than the spectre of drug cartels and the low-grade produce and violence which these criminals deal in equal measures.
Whichever way you slice it, there is no doubt that Uruguay will be under the spotlight in coming months: Whether it will prove to be a cautionary tale or a runaway success is anyone’s guess, but for now, many are hopeful that by changing a few laws, a safer, more tolerant world could be forged for everyone: In this respect, it seems, Uruguay could be setting an example for other countries to follow.
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