The world of cannabis has a new talking point this week. If all goes to plan a Uruguay proposal to legalise Government-supplied marijuana will be passed into law. Although personal weed possession is not prosecuted in Uruguay the Government is planning to go a step further and grow weed itself and allow citizens to buy around an ounce (28 grams) per month. This way the Uruguay Government becomes the main financial beneficiary of legal supply. This is one step further than most countries would consider in the marijuana debate. Perhaps it will signal a new generation of stoner Government Employees in Uruguay and I imagine that there will be lots of volunteers to step up to the task of producing Government-grade ganja. It would be a dream career.
The announcement will not go down well with the United Nations anti-narcotics people, nor will it be well received by the US Federal authorities. But the influence of both of these organisations is of less and less importance to the drug-weary and prohibition-fatigued Latin American drug producing states who have all paid a very heavy toll in the last 20 years to maintain a ‘hard line’ on marijuana.
The fact that Uruguay has had the political courage to step out of line may make it easier for neighbouring nations to implement radical options of their own. Earlier in the year at the April ‘Summit of The Americas’ a number of Latin American leaders voiced their concerns that there was no longer any purpose in maintaining illegality of cannabis (and other drugs) and that a new approach was needed. After years of listening to failed prohibition policies from outsiders, the Latin Americans are coming up with sensible solutions of their own, who can blame them?
The unwinnable war on drugs has served only to make millionaires out of the drug cartels and has cost hundreds of thousands of lives. Many Latin American politicians are looking for a face-saving way to stop the carnage which is ruining economies and has scarred a generation. The only people to benefit are the drug gangs. Legalising weed is an easy way out of the problem and more and more opinion polls show that politicians should not worry about public reaction to legalising weed. Most people recognise cannabis is far less harmful than alcohol and tobacco anyway. And nowadays there is the powerful medical marijuana lobby which is demonstrating an endless list of medical marijuana benefits.
The decision by the Uruguayan Government to be the main grower/supplier is quite a strange one, or at least it seems that way. Most Governments would probably think about either decriminalising weed, or at perhaps even making it fully legal. But few would want to be the main national supplier of weed. Perhaps this shows the political frustration from seeing other people make money from weed, or perhaps the Government feel that they can genuinely take cannabis breeding to new levels of performance and potency.
We don’t know whether Uruguay has gone one step too far or whether it is the genius work of a political stoner ego-maniac who is dreaming of running a ‘Ministry of Marijuana’ with an official office looking out over fields of weed. Imagine being chief official smoke tester, appointed by the Government, or ‘Director of Hash Production’. Uruguay could start generating some very attractive new stoner jobs.
It will be interesting to look back at the Uruguay situation in a few years and see what the result is. We are sure a lot of Uruguayan marijuana lovers will have mixed feelings. On one side must be nice to have a Government that takes weed so seriously. However some Uruguayan canna-lovers may worry that Government grade ganja will be of poor quality. Time will tell, and Dutch Passion will send them some seeds when they get started so that they have some new genetics to complement the local varieties. If Uruguay is to grow weed for their own citizens it makes sense to have a number of proven good quality varieties. After all, if a job is worth doing, it is worth doing well.
Some readers will remember when Portugal decided to end criminal penalties for personal drug use 10+ years ago and various ‘expert’ groups said it would end in disaster. In the end it became a model of tolerance with numerous benefits. Euro-neighbours now look on enviously as Portugal has manoeuvred drugs from being a major criminal problem to a minor (compared to alcohol/tobacco) health issue. Here at Dutch Passion we hope that Uruguay’s neighbours also look at the Uruguayan model of tolerance and start to adopt similar approaches. Many other Latin American countries are already looking at, or making, more liberal marijuana laws. Argentina is introducing new laws, and the situation in Chile is also very relaxed. There is real progress happening around the world, but there has also been several decades of stupid political thinking that preceded the new approach. Latin American political leaders are showing that they have the courage to do the right thing, they need congratulating for it. We hope other political leaders are watching.
Looking back at the last few decades of cannabis prohibition shows what happens when logic is replaced by prejudice. First the world governments tried lying to people about weed being a gateway to hard drugs. When that didn’t work they tried zero tolerance, ‘mandatory minimum sentences’ and hard punishments. Then they tried educating people, and then they tried throwing lots more money at maintaining prohibition. Finally they decide that weed wasn’t really a problem after all and is actually a pretty good medicine. Uruguay’s government even became the national herb supplier. It’s a funny old world.
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Dutch JoeJune 29th 2012