Uruguay president defends ‘cutting edge’ pot legalization vote

MONTEVIDEO,  (Reuters) – Uruguay’s leftist President Jose Mujica said his country would not become a haven for pot smokers the day after its lower chamber of Congress narrowly voted to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana. The bill, which needs to pass the senate to become law, goes beyond the no penalization policy in the Netherlands and creates a government body to regulate legal sales and public smoking clubs and to monitor marijuana consumption for Uruguayans. To avoid making the country a drug tourism destination, only Uruguayans would be allowed to use marijuana. The use of marijuana is already legal in the South American nation, but the sale and cultivation is not.

“No one should think implementing this law would create disorder or encourage consumption,” said Mujica, a former guerrilla fighter and strong supporter of the measure.

Controlling the marijuana trade under strict guidelines would instead help undermine drug-smuggling gangs and fight petty crime, he told a local radio program on Thursday.

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