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Uruguay’s Radical Take on the War on Drugs

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When it comes to drug law reformation, Uruguay is among the most progressive nations in the world.  Some would argue that their policies are dangerous and radical, but the fact remains that they are not opposed to changing something that isn’t working.  Uruguay is consistently at the forefront of social changes, even though it is often overshadowed by its larger and more industrious neighbors such as Brazil and Argentina.  In the US the War On Drugs is failing and addiction intervention is common place.  Prescription drugs such as oxycontin, percocet and xanax are widely abused in the U.S and lawmakers have stood by their failing policies.  Uruguay is trying something very different to take on the War On Drugs. They are in the process of passing a law that would cause the country to monopolize all of the production and distribution of marijuana and sell cannabis directly from the government to the citizens.

Reasons it Could Work

For several reasons, this may be a very smart move for Uruguay and could cause other countries to follow suit with their own policies.  For one, it gives the government control over the production and distribution of the substance, ensuring a much safer product than what is found on the streets.  Secondly, it will provide legitimate jobs for the citizens of Uruguay and increase the economic growth of the country.  Thirdly, they hope that it will cut down on the amount of violent crime associated with the current drug trade that is predominantly run by local cartels.  The controlled legalization of the drug would also keep non violent petty offenders out of jail and help lower the tax expense of the country.

Reasons it Could Fail

The monopolization of the marijuana farming and distribution by the government might also backfire on the country.  Many skeptics of the system believe that the citizens will take advantage of their freedom to buy marijuana from the government.  They believe that people who don’t normally use marijuana will buy their allotted share of the drug, just to turn around and sell it to someone who does use it to make a quick profit.  A monthly limit of 40 grams per person is what the country’s government plans to impose.  Some believe that that amount will not satisfy many of Uruguay’s cannabis users, which will cause them to commit crimes to get more of the substance.

Uruguay’s criminality rate has risen over ten percent in the last few years, which has sparked law makers in the country to pursue radical changes in their drug policies.  Their goal is to limit the amount of violent crime in the country and keep non violent citizens out of jail over a few grams of marijuana.  In the US, the country struggles to keep prescription drugs like percocet, vicodin, and oxycontin off the streets as well as marijuana.  Perhaps the best plan for addiction intervention is to wait and see if Uruguays policy works for them and then try something similar here.


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